Kent Olson

  • Senior Research Librarian

Kent Olson directs the library's reference and research services for faculty and students and teaches Advanced Legal Research. He earned his B.A. in art history from Wesleyan University and his M.L.S. from the University of California, Berkeley, and then worked as a librarian for Fordham University at Lincoln Center before attending the University of Minnesota School of Law and the Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California. He joined the Law Library in 1985.

Olson has written several texts on legal research, most recently Legal Research in a Nutshell and Principles of Legal Research, which won the American Association of Law Libraries' annual Joseph L. Andrews Bibliographical Award, recognizing "a significant contribution to legal bibliographical literature." His earlier book Legal Information: How to Find It, How to Use It also won the Andrews Award, and was selected as one of Library Journal’s Best Reference Sources in 1999.

Olson's work has also appeared in several journals, including Green Bag, Law Library Journal, Legal Reference Services Quarterly and Virginia Lawyer.


  • J.D.
    University of California at Berkeley School of Law
  • M.L.S.
    University of California at Berkeley
  • B.A.
    Wesleyan University



Legal Research in a Nutshell (with Morris L. Cohen) (West, 5th ed. 1992; 6th ed. 1996; 7th ed. 2000; 8th ed. 2003; 9th ed. 2007; 10th ed. 2010; 11th ed. 2013; 12 ed. 2016). 5th ed. published in Japanese as Nyumon Amerika Ho No Shirabeka (Nobuo Yamamoto, trans., Seibundo, 1994).

Principles of Legal Research (West, 2009; 2d ed. 2015).

Legal Information: How to Find It, How to Use It (Oryx Press, 1999).

Virginia Court of Appeals Unpublished Opinions (compiler) (University of Virginia Law Library, 4 vols., 1996).

How to Find the Law, 9th ed. (with Morris L. Cohen and Robert C. Berring) (West, 1989).

Finding the Law: An Abridged Edition of "How to Find the Law, 9th Ed." (with Morris L. Cohen and Robert C. Berring) (West, 1989).

Practical Approaches to Legal Research (with Robert C. Berring) (Haworth Press, 1988).

Articles and Book Chapters:

Birth of a Nutshell: Morris Cohen in the 1960s, 104 Law Libr. J. 53 (2012).
HeinOnline (PDF)

Morris L. Cohen, 1927-2010: A Remembrance and Celebration (with others), 104 Law Libr. J. 11 (2012).

The Law Givers: Heroes of Virginia Statutory History, Va. Law., Oct. 2011, at 50.

“A Piece of Work: Employment Law Research in Virginia," Va. Law., Dec. 2005, at 37.

“West’s New Annotated Code of Virginia: A Report of the VALL Ad Hoc Committee on Annotated Codes," Va. Law., Apr. 2002, at 44.

“Waiving a Red Flag: Teaching Counterintuitiveness in Citator Use,” 9 Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing 58 (2001).

“State Codes,” in Virginia Law Books: Essays and Bibliographies 1 (W. Hamilton Bryson, ed., American Philosophical Society, 2000).

“The Path of Virginia Codification," Va. Law., Feb. 2000, at 12.

“Law,” in Guide to Reference Books 1112 (Robert Balay, ed., American Library Association, 11th ed., 1996).

“Historical Articles in State Codes and Reports,” Legal Ref. Serv. Q., Fall 1983, at 87.

Book Reviews and Abstracts:

“Those Who Play With Cats,” 1 Green Bag 2d 217 (1998) (reviewing Blackie the Talking Cat & Other Favorite Judicial Opinions).

Review of Deborah S. Panella, Basics of Law Librarianship, 19 Gov’t Publications Rev. 301 (1992).

Review of 750 F.2d, Legal Ref. Services Q., Fall/Winter 1986, at 199.

“Articles in Brief,” 1 Nat’l Productivity Rev. 129, 247, 356, 463 (1981-82).

Current Courses

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