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Secondary Sources:
ALRs, Encyclopedias, Law Reviews, Restatements, & Treatises

Secondary sources will help you save time as you begin research on a topic by providing analysis, explanation, and leads to key primary sources.

Introduction

Secondary sources are a great place to begin your research. Although the primary sources of law--case law, statutes, and regulations--establish the law on a given topic, it is often difficult to quickly locate answers in them. Secondary sources often explain legal principles more thoroughly than a single case or statute, so using them can help you save time. Secondary sources also help you avoid unnecessary research, since you're tapping into work that someone else has already done on an issue.

Secondary sources include:

  • Legal encyclopedias
  • Treatises
  • American Law Reports (ALR)
  • Law review articles
  • Restatements

Secondary sources are particularly useful for:

  • Learning the basics of a particular area of law
  • Understanding key terms of art in an area
  • Identifying essential cases and statutes

This guide provides a basic overview of each source, including their strengths and why you might use them, as well as tips on finding, using, and citing them.

This guide is based on material written by Deanna Barmakian.

Subject Guide

Meg Kribble
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Creative Commons License

This guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

You may reproduce any part of it for noncommercial purposes as long as credit is included and it is shared in the same manner.