Official State of Iowa Website

Journal Articles 

Journal articles appear on many topics and in many places. This page focuses on two types of publications focusing on the law: law reviews and bar journals. 

What are law reviews? Icon of a question mark

Law reviews publish scholarly articles on the law and are often edited by law students. Law journals take this same format. To keep it simple, we will refer to all these publications as “law reviews.”  

Law reviews: 

  • Are often connected with law schools, so the names of many of these publications include a law school name, like the Harvard Law Review and the Drake Law Review.  

  • Are often connected with state names, like the Iowa Law Review.  Just because a law review or law journal title includes a state name does not mean that it only covers legal topics relating to that state. For example, the Iowa Law Review publishes articles on Iowa law, but also on topics that do not focus specifically on Iowa law.   

Law review articles: 

  • Are generally written by law professors or law student writers (the student publications are usually called “notes” or “comments”) 

  • Are generally written for an audience of academics 

  • Are often many pages long 

  • May analyze or summarize the law and will often make suggestions for changes to the law

What are bar journals? 

Bar journals are published by state or local bar associations (professional organizations for lawyers) or by bar associations or groups that focus on a specific area of the law. 

Bar journal articles: 

  • Are generally written by practicing lawyers with other practicing lawyers in mind 

  • Are often short (under five pages long) 

  • Will focus on topics of interest to practicing lawyers, like recent changes to the law, important new cases, or new approaches to the practice of law  

Finding journal articles 

You can search for law journal articles online using a resource like Google Scholar. When using Google Scholar, make sure to take advantage of the search filters on the left side of the screen, which allow you to narrow by date.  Icon of a person typing on a keyboard

Specialized databases also exist for searching law journals. You may be able to access some of these databases at a law library, a public library, or an academic library.  

Law libraries will also have some law journal articles available in print. Law librarians can suggest good approaches for finding journal articles on your topic of interest both in print and online. Check out our Getting Help from Librarians page for places to visit or contact.  

Using journal articles 

Journal articles can be a useful resource to better understand how the law has been interpreted and applied to situations in the past or may be applied to situations in the future. This understanding can help you better determine which laws and types of law may apply to your situation and how those laws might affect your case. While journal articles can help you understand more about the law and lead you to laws on a particular topic, they are generally not cited in court filings. Remember, journal articles are secondary authority, which means they are not law.