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Basic Legal Research Guide: Secondary Sources

Guide to Select Secondary Sources for Legal Research

 I) Legal Periodical Indexes - used to find citations to articles in legal periodicals such as law reviews, bar journals, and legal newspapers

(a) Index to Legal Periodicals and Books - online database of bibliographic citations to law reviews, legal periodicals, treatises and more.

(b) Online Legal Research – can search by keywords in Lexis Nexis and Westlaw

II) Legal Periodicals include law reviews, bar journals, and legal newspapers and generally contain articles that analyze and explain a legal issue or topic. The Library subscribes to several print legal periodicals and has access to most legal periodicals through Lexis Nexis and Westlaw.

III) Looseleaf Services - law books in three-ring or postbinder format. The content is updated frequently. Looseleaf services are published for numerous areas of law, especially areas of state or federal law which are subject to extensive regulation. Content typically includes text of court opinions; text of relevant legislation and statutes with commentary; administrative documents; scholarly exposition; and practice aids. To use Looseleaf Services effectively, be sure to consult the “How to Use” documentation that is commonly found in every one of these publications

(a) Wage and Hour Cases (BNA) – 2d Floor HD4974.W3
(b) Labor Arbitration Reports (BNA) – 2d Floor HD5487.U5 L3
(c) United States Law Week (BNA) – 2d Floor and 4th Floor KF105. U5

IV) American Law Reports (ALR) – provide researchers with indepth articles on a very narrow point of law, often one addressed in a landmark or pivotal court decision. Typical ALR entries start with the text of an entire court opinion, followed by a discussion of the legal trend or rule that the case represents, including commentary on related decisions for all jurisdictions. Following this commentary is a table listing citations to these cases organized by state as well as relevant statutes, law reviews, and other ALR articles. To find an ALR article, use one of the Indexes accompanying the sets to search for your keyword or topic. The Library owns several of the ALR series, located on the 2d floor at KF132.6

V) Restatements of the Law – compiled restatements of areas of common law (an area of law that is not codified statutorily, e.g. contracts, agency, torts) with exposition of case law on the stated rules. Restatements are authored by judges, lawyers, and legal scholars who are experts on the topic at hand. The Library owns several Restatements, which can be found by searching the Catalog for titles beginning with “Restatement.”

VI) Treatises - scholarly analyses (typically in a single book format) of a particular area of law written in book format. Treatises are specific in nature and treat a subject in more depth than a legal encyclopedia entry by offering extensive analysis and interpretation of cases or doctrines pertinent to the area of law. Treatises can be located in the Catalog by using the following keyword query: treatise + law

Legal Encyclopedias

Legal Encyclopedias cover a broad range of legal issues and are written in narrative, rather than analytical, form. Legal encyclopedias are arranged alphabetically by subject, with footnote references to both federal and state case law, statutes, regulations and other primary sources

Legal Dictionaries

Legal Dictionaries provide definitions of legal terms as well as appropriate acronyms or abbreviations related to the terms.