German Legal Research Guide

This in-depth guide will help researchers navigate the German legal materials.


Germany is a federal constitutional republic comprised of 16 constituent states, known as Länder in German. The German legal system falls within the civil law tradition, which traces its origins to Roman law. Germany played a leading role in the codification of civil law during the 19th century, and its legal codes have influenced the development of the law in many other jurisdictions.

The Georgetown Law Library maintains an extensive collection of German legal materials, including both primary law and secondary sources, in German and in English. These materials all have call numbers beginning with the letters KK and are located on the fourth floor of the Williams Library.

Key Online Resources for German Legal Research

Listed below are links to free and subscription-based electronic resources that provide full-text English translations of German laws or practical guidance and commentary on German law in English. Links to free German language resources also are provided.

Full-Text English Translations of German Laws

  • Gesetze im Internet (Laws on the Internet)
    This free database, maintained by the Federal Ministry of Justice and a commercial publisher, provides full-text English translations of selected German codes and statutes. They are listed alphabetically by the German abbreviation for the title of each translated code or statute. Use the Find function of your browser (Control-F on Windows, Command-F on Mac) to search the translated titles by keyword in English.
  • German Law Archive (Oxford University)
    This free resource offers English translations of selected federal statutes, as well as selected judgments issued by the Federal Constitutional Court, the Federal Court of Justice, the Federal Labor Court, and a few judgments issued by higher regional courts.
  • German Legal Materials (University of Texas at Austin: Institute for Transnational Law)
    Provides free access to English translations of selected German court decisions on constitutional law, administrative law, tort law, contract law, and the law of restitution. A limited selection of German statutes in English translation also is provided.

Practical Guidance & Commentary on German Law in English

  • Getting the Deal Through (GTDT)
    GDTD offers practitioner-written summaries of German laws governing dozens of practice areas (“work areas”). Each summary follows a question and answer format and includes references or citations to relevant primary laws. Begin by selecting Germany as the jurisdiction form the menu in the center of the page and then select the desired work area (practice area). 
  • Thomson Reuters Practical Law: Germany
    U.S. academic subscribers to Westlaw may access this online resource, which provides practitioner-oriented guidance on German law for selected practice areas. Content includes practice notes and checklists, standardized forms and documents, as well as a guide to Doing Business in Germany.
  • Global Legal Monitor - Germany (Law Library of Congress)
    This free resource provides analysis and commentary on significant developments in German law, including the enactment of important new legislation and the issuance of landmark judicial decisions. Links to primary sources (in German) are almost always provided. Use the filters on the left to narrow by date and by topic.

German Language Resources

  • Gesetze im Internet (Laws on the Internet)
    This free database, maintained by the Federal Ministry of Justice and a commercial publisher, provides access to all federal codes, statutes, and ordinances currently in force. English translations of selected codes and statutes are provided on this page; all other content is in German.
  • Bundesgesetzblatt (Federal Law Gazette)
    Germany's official federal law gazette consists of two parts. Part I (Teil I) publishes federal statutes and ordinances as enacted in chronological order, plus parliamentary notices and announcements. Part II (Teil II) publishes treaties and other international agreements, as well as agreements between the federal government and the Länder. The free online version is not searchable. Browse chronologically by date. Coverage is from 1949–present.

Research Assistance

If you need assistance with German legal research, visit the Research Help page of the Georgetown University Law Library's website, or contact the Law Library's International and Foreign Law Department by phone (202-662-4195) or by email ( Georgetown Law Center students may schedule a one-on-one research consultation with a librarian.

German Länder (States)

Image by Escondites via Wikimedia Commons (CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 German License).

Update History

  • Updated 10/22 (dei)
  • Revised 1/20 (chb)
  • Links updated 9/13 (mms)
  • Content and Links Revised 4/07 (aeb)