Unlike the United States and other common law jurisdictions, France derives its legal system from the civil law tradition. Therefore, researching French law does not follow the same methodology as legal research in common law jurisdictions, like the United States.

A basic understanding of the French Constitution, the supreme law, and its provisions is a sound first step when starting research on French law.

In accordance with the civil law tradition, much greater emphasis in the French legal system is placed on codified law, the many codes, rather than on case law and precedent, as in common law jurisdictions.

However, bear in mind that there has been an expanding body of case law, so legal research must include a look at the court system of France.

As with research in common law countries, looking at the legislative process and the resulting legislation is also important, particularly for pending legislation or for constructing a legislative history.

Finally, a look at international agreements, or treaties, and their provisions is also necessary.