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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.

Intro to Legal Encyclopedias

Legal encyclopedias contain brief, broad summaries of legal topics, providing introductions to legal topics and explaining relevant terms of art.They also provide citations to relevant primary law and sometimes give citations to relevant major law review articles.

There are two main legal encyclopedias in the United States that are national in scope. They are useful, but not well-suited for jurisdiction specific research.

State legal encyclopedias provide background and explanations of state legal topics. Not every state has a legal encyclopedia. Depth of coverage and quality vary. State encyclopedia articles are updated irregularly.

Electronic versions of the encyclopedias are updated directly. If using a print encyclopedia, always remember to check the pocket parts for any updates.

National Legal Encyclopedias

State Legal Encyclopedias

Legal encyclopedias are listed alphabetically by state. Electronic versions are included only if they are comprehensive in scope.

For a few states, Westlaw offers a practice series that contains selective coverage of state law, usually covering a few major topics and information useful to litigators. To find them, browse the Westlaw directory by U.S. State Materials > Other U.S. States > State name >  Forms, Treatises, CLEs, and Other Practice Materials, then browse the page for "practice series."

How to Cite Legal Encyclopedias

See Bluebook B8.15 and Rule 15.8.

Quick example:

17 AM. JUR. 2d Contracts § 74 (1964).