We Louisianians are generally proud to be, well, different in many ways. We eat mudbugs after boiling them in an array of spices. We put plastic babies in our cakes before eat them. We play jazz music at funerals. We have a festival for everything from meat pies to frogs. Of the 50 states that make up the Union, Louisiana is the only one that cleaves to a civilian rather than common law tradition. But this doesn’t mean assisting a patron with a Louisiana civilian law question has to be daunting, and with the little lagniappe I’m about to give you, you too will be able to navigate the waterways of Louisiana civilian law.
First off, West’s Louisiana Statutes Annotated (“LSA”) is the official compilation of legislative law in Louisiana. The LSA contains all the laws passed by the legislature that are currently in force. The LSA’s are made up of six distinct parts: The Revised Statutes, The Civil Code, The Code of Civil Procedure, The Code of Criminal Procedure, The Evidence Code, and The Children’s Code. These are all available on law school Westlaw subscriptions.
Finding Aids and Introductions to Louisiana Legal Research
Louisiana Legal Research by Mary Garvey Algero, Carolina Press (2009). This handy little volume features chapters on the principles of legal research and conducting research in Louisiana primary materials.
Louisiana Primary Legal Resources CALI lesson by Brian Huddleston. This lesson gives a thorough overview of Louisiana Primary Legal Resources.
Louisiana Secondary Resources CALI lesson by your beloved RIPS blog author, Kevin Baggett. This lesson gives a thorough overview of Louisiana Secondary Resources.
An invaluable resource
to understanding Louisiana Civil Law is the West Louisiana Civil Law Treatise Set. The treatise set is a large multi-volume set written by experienced Louisiana attorneys, judges, and law professors. It is also available on Westlaw under the database acroynm LACIV.
While the Louisiana Civil Law Treatise set is important for understanding the Louisiana Civil Code, the most appreciated tool of Louisiana practitioners is the West Louisiana Practice Series. The Louisiana Practice Series gives Louisiana practitioners how-to information for handling complex and routine legal problems by providing useful forms and strategy tips. It is also available on Westlaw under the database acroynm LAPRAC.
Another important civil law treatise series is the Civil Law Translations set. This series was translated by the Louisiana State Law Institute and includes commentary by Aubry and Rau on obligations, property, prescription, and successions. Most importantly, this series includes the Marcel Planiol and George Ripert Treatise on Civil Law, or commonly called “The Planiols”. These sources are fantastic for anyone doing historical research on Louisiana code articles that were based on the French law.
West handbooks on Louisiana law are another useful source and are large volumes of works treating a general legal area. Any statute, code article, civil procedure article, or children’s code article that pertain to that broad legal area are reprinted in their full form. Some useful handbooks on Louisiana law include: Handbook on Louisiana Evidence Law, Handbook on Louisiana Family Law, Louisiana’s Children’s Code Handbook, Louisiana Handbook of Statutory Criminal Law and Procedure, Louisiana Sentencing Guidelines Manual.
With this little bit of knowledge, the next time (or the first time) a patron asks you about a Louisiana civil law question, you will have that little something extra in your librarian tool belt to help them out.