Secondary Sources are NOT Law
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While not primary legal authority, secondary sources are an excellent place to begin your legal research. Not only do they serve as a pathfinder to locate primary legal sources, they offer commentary, explanation, and analysis on the law which can aid in your understanding of sometimes complex legal concepts. There are several types of secondary legal sources including legal encyclopedias, legal periodicals (law reviews), legal dictionaries, treatises, and digests, each of which will be explained in more detail within this guide.
A legal encyclopedia is a comprehensive set of brief articles on legal topics arranged alphabetically by subject. While they do not cover any area of law comprehensively, they do provide a general introduction to areas of law which can be very helpful when you are unfamiliar with a topic. Legal encyclopedias provide case and statutory citations and give the general state of the law rather than analysis or criticism.
The two primary legal encyclopedias (American Jurisprudence (Am.Jur.) and Corpus Juris Secundum (C.J.S.)) are of general interest and of national scope. While very useful in in providing overview of legal concepts, they are not particularly helpful with jurisdictional research. Both encyclopedia sets contain over 100 volumes and are arranged alphabetically by topic. Both also include a general index which is shelved following the last volume of the each set.
Contains over 400 separate titles covering a wide range of legal topics
Provides additional focus on federal statutory material
Available at NGL only on Westlaw
Many states also have state encyclopedias which are used in much the same manner as the national encyclopedias.
Provides coverage on a broad range of topics pertinent to Texas law
Includes analytical treatment of all law established in Texas state and federal courts and by acts of the legislature
Also includes Words and Phrases index for ease in finding material
Available at NGL in reference: REF KFT1230 .T4 and on Westlaw
Although volumes are arranged alphabetically by subject, it is best to begin your search in the indexes located at the end of the sets. This is because while the volumes are arranged topically, some legal topics will be covered under a broader MAJOR headings rather than narrower topics. For example, the term "sentencing" appears under the topic "criminal law" in Am.Jur., not under "sentencing. in the alphabetical volumes Therefore, to find information on sentencing, you would need to locate the volume containing the topic "criminal law" then find "sentencing" within it.
When searching within the indexes, be sure to consider synonymous and related terms. Lawyer/attorney, doctor/physician, automobile/vehicle are examples of synonymous terms. But also be prepared to consider related terms such as pretrial release when researching bail issues, or post-conviction remedies for criminal appellate procedure.
Once you have located your topic within the index, you will see that the index gives you a topic (sometimes subtopic(s)) and a section number where you can find your article. Example: Damages/Compensatory Damages/Measure and Elements in Breach-of-Contract Cases §50 Causal relationship between breach and damages. Look on the spine to see which volume your entry is in. In this case volume 25 of C.J.S. contains Damages §§1 to 191, so §50 will be located there. In Am.Jur. in Westlaw, you will find a list of the broad topical heading. Upon choosing a topic, you will see an outline of subtopics and section numbers. This same outline is located at the beginning of each major topic in the bound volumes and can serve to place subtopics in context.
After you have chosen the appropriate volume, you will see each article contains a brief summarization of the law followed by footnotes citing primary sources supporting the summarization.
Given the fact that the law is in a constant state of evolution, it is extremely important that you do not rely exclusively on citations you find in the bound version of legal encyclopedias. When using bound volumes, begin by checking the accompanying pocket part for updates. A pocket part is pamphlet inserted into the back pocket of the book. If your section number is not listed, there have been no updates made since the original publication of the volume. Occasionally pocket parts are too voluminous to fit within the bound volume. When this is the case, updates are printed in paperback supplements which are shelved immediately to the right to the bound volume. Online versions of the encyclopedias are continually updated eliminating the need to consult additional materials.
Since the information you find in a legal encyclopedia is not law, you typically will not be citing to those in support of a legal argument. However, in those cases where citation to a legal encyclopedia is necessary, The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, 20th ed., provides the following format:
17 Am.Jur.2d Contracts § 74 (1964).
88 C.J.S. Trial § 192 (1955).
In the first example, 17 refers to the volume number, Am.Jur.2d is American Jurisprudence, second series, Contracts is the major heading, § 74 (section 74) is the subsection, and (1964) is the publication year for the bound volume.
American Law Reports (A.L.R.) contain articles (annotations) that summarize the law while providing comprehensive treatment of legal issues. They also illustrate differences in how law is applied across jurisdictions. Annotations are similar to articles found in legal encyclopedias. However, whereas legal encyclopedias briefly cover a wide range of legal topics, A.L.R.s deal with considerably fewer and narrower topics in a much more thorough, detailed, and comprehensive manner.
A.L.R.s provide the user with an overview of legal topics and also serve as a finding tool for primary legal sources as well as law review articles. Annotations often cover developing areas of the law or areas in which there is disagreement between jurisdictions. "ALR" by Adam Engelhart is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
For What are A.L.Rs Most Useful?
Differences Between A.L.R.s and Digests
|American Law Reports, first series (1919-1948)||A.L.R.||State and Federal|
|American Law Reports, second series (1948-1965)||A.L.R.2d||State and Federal|
|American Law Reports, third series (1965-1980)||A.L.R.3d||State and Federal|
|American Law Reports, fourth series (1980-1992)||A.L.R.4d||State|
|American Law Reports, fifth series (1992-2005)||A.L.R.5d||State|
|American Law Reports, sixth series (2005-2016)||A.L.R.6d||State|
|American Law Reports, seventh series (2016- )||A.L.R.7d||State|
|American Law Reports Federal (1969-2005)||A.L.R.Fed.||Federal|
|American Law Reports Federal, second series (2005-2015 )||A.L.R.Fed.2d||Federal|
|American Law Reports Federal, third series (2015- ).||A.L.R.3d||Federal|
|American Law Reports International (2010 - )||A.L.R.Int'l||International|
WHERE TO FIND A.L.R.
Searching by Subject
Searching by Case Name
Since the information you find in an annotation is not law, you will typically not cite them in support of a legal argument. However, in those cases where citation is necessary, Rule 16 of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, 20th ed., provides the following format:
William B. Johnson, Annotation, Use of Plea Bargain or Grant of Immunity as Improper Vouching for Credibility of Witness in Federal Cases, 76 A.L.R. Fed. 409 (1986).
A digest is an index for case law. Digests identify and organize by topic points of law raised in reported cases. They are generally organized by jurisdiction or geographic area, although there are some that combine state and federal within one set. There are many types of digests typically organized by court or region as shown below.
|United States Supreme Court||Supreme Court Reporter||West's United States Supreme Court Digest|
|Federal Courts||West's Federal Reporter and West's Federal Supplement||
West's Federal Practice Digest
|State Courts||Most states have a state digest (exceptions: DE, NV, UT).||Texas: Texas Digest (see below)|
|Regional||Atlantic Reporter||Atlantic Digest|
|North Eastern Reporter||Refer to State Digests|
|South Eastern Reporter||South Eastern Digest|
|Southern Reporter||Refer to State Digests|
|South Western Reporter||Refer to State Digests|
|North Western Reporter||North Western Digest|
|Pacific Reporter||Pacific Digest|
|Both Federal and State Courts||
General Digest, Decennial Digest
Where to Find Digests
West's Texas Digest
Contains Texas state and federal court decisions from 1886 to present
Available at NGL in reference: REF KF105 .T42
West's General Digest
Contains state and federal court decisions from all U.S. jurisdictions
Available at NGL in reference: REF KF141 .W524:
Twelfth Series (2008-2010)
Thirteenth Series (2010-2013)
Fourteenth Series (2013-2016)
Fifteenth Series (2016- )
Contain state and federal court cases from all U.S. Jurisdictions
More than 400 subject classifications corresponding to general legal concepts
Decennial Digest contains summaries of cases decided during the period from 1897 to 1905 and for every ten year period until 1976, then every five years until 2001, then shorter periods thereafter.
NGL has the following Decennial Digests: Seventh (1956-1966), Eighth (1966-1976), Ninth Part 1 (1976-1981), Ninth Part 2 (1981-1986), Tenth Part 1 (1986-1991), Tenth Part 2 (1991-1996), Eleventh Part 1 (1996-2001), Eleventh, Part 2 (2001-2004), Eleventh Part 3 (2004-2007), and Twelfth Part 1 (2008-2010), Twelfth Part 2 (2010-2013), Twelfth Part 3 (2013- )
Select a digest
Choose the appropriate date range
Use the Descriptive Word Indexes
Pull the Appropriate Volumes from the Shelf
Use Retrieved Citations to locate the cases within bound reporters or on Westlaw.
Law reviews (also known as law journals) are scholarly journals which focus on legal issues. Law reviews are published by law schools, bar associations, or commercial publishers. The articles in law reviews consist of essays written by judges, law professors, and legal scholars as well as notes or comments pertaining to legal developments written by law students. Law reviews can contain both lengthy articles as well as brief essays.
While not primary legal authority, law reviews are an excellent secondary source because the published essays are heavily footnoted. These footnotes cite to primary and secondary authority which can be quite valuable when seeking relevant and persuasive primary authority.
Law Reviews Available in Print
The library has several law reviews in print. Click on links for holdings information.
|Texas Law Reviews|
|American Journal of Criminal Law (UT Austin School of Law)||K1 .M44|
|Baylor Law Review||K2 .A2|
|Houston Law Review||KFT1269 .H6|
|SMU Law Review||KFT1269 .S6|
|South Texas Law Review||KFT1269 .S68|
|Southwestern Law Journal||KFT1269 .S6|
|St. Mary's Law Journal||K23 .A35|
|Texas Bar Journal||KFT1269 .T47|
|Texas Law Review||KFT1269 .T48|
|Thurgood Marshall Law Review||KFT1269 .T488|
|Other Law Reviews|
|ABA Journal||KF200 .A4|
|Administrative Law Review||K1 .D65|
|Air Force Law Review||K25 .N43|
|American Business Law Journal||K1 .M4|
|American Criminal Law Review||K1 .M43|
|Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law||K9 .N393|
|Brandeis Law Journal||K10 .O86|
|Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review||KF5501 .A13E5|
|California Law Review||KFC69 .C34|
|Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems||KFN5069 .C651|
|Columbia Law Review||KFN5069 .C65|
|Harvard Law Review||KFM2469 .H37|
|Journal of Criminal Law||KF9202 .J68|
|Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology||KF9202 .J681|
|Journal of Law and Economics||KF175 .J68|
|Michigan Law Review||KFM4269 .M5|
|Minnesota Law Review||KFM5469 .M5|
|Northwestern University Law Review||KFI1269 .N6|
|Industrial Relations Law Journal||K9 .N393|
|Psychology, Public Policy and Law: An Official Law Review of the University pf Arizona College of Law and the University of Miami School of Law||K16 .S93|
|Real Estate Law Journal||K18 .E14|
|Southern Law Journal||K23 .O788|
|University of Chicago Law Review||K175 .U54|
|University of Louisville Law Review||K10 .O86|
|University of Pennsylvania Law Review||KF175 .U541|
|Tax Law Review||K24 .A87|
|Vanderbilt Law Review||KFT69 .V3|
|Villanova Law Review||KF175 .V5|
|Virginia Law Review||KFV2469 .V57|
|Yale Law Journal||KF175 .Y3|
Law Reviews Available Online
There are several options for finding full text law review articles online:
(see link below)
|Law reviews are located under the Secondary Sources tab from the main page. Click law Reviews & Journals. from there national, federal, international, and law reviews by state or topic can be searched.|
|Google Custom Search||Free full-text online law review/law journal search engine.|
(see link below)
|HeinOnline provides access to more than 2,400 law and law-related periodicals. Under Browse Databases by Name, select Law Journal Law Library for an alphabetical list of all law journals available. HeinOnline also offers a Law Journal Quick Reference Guide for assistance in searching.|
(see link below)
|Provides access to scholarly law journals in areas such as criminal justice, international law, federal law, organized crime, medical law, labor and human resource law, ethics, the environment, and more. International scope covers United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.|
|HG.org||Alphabetical and hyperlinked list of law journals. Includes subject areas links under Law Articles limiter in left column.|
|Legal Scholarship Network||Forthcoming law reviews and working papers from law schools. Current publication emphasis.|
|Loyola Law eCommons||Loyola LAW eCOMMONS is an open-access, sustainable, and secure resource created to preserve and provide access to research, scholarship, and creative works created by the School of Law community for the benefit of Loyola students, faculty, staff, and the larger academic community.|
|University Law Review Project||Allows full-text searching or browsing of journals by topic.|
Legal dictionaries provide definitions of legal terms and phrases (including Latin). In addition to providing citation, some legal dictionaries provide citations to cases, A.L.R. annotations and legal encyclopedias.
"The Concise Law Dictionary, English-Urdu and Urdu-English" by umjanedoan is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Black's Law Dictionary
While there are a number of legal dictionaries available, the most well-known and commonly utilized is Black's Law Dictionary. Black's references the West's Digests in addition to providing definitions which can be very helpful when beginning your research. It also contains legal abbreviations and a "legal maxims" section which gives explanations of traditional Latin legal principles. Black's Law Dictionary is available in print at NGL at REF KF156 .B53 2014 and on Westlaw.
Words and Phrases
Words and Phrases is a multi-volume set containing state and federal judicial definitions of words and phrases. Each definition pertains to statutory language, court rules, or administrative regulations and contain a citation from the court which provided the definition. Words and Phrases is available at NGL at REF KF156 .W6
How to use Legal Dictionaries:
Legal dictionaries function essentially like traditional dictionaries. Provided you have the correct spelling of the word you are trying to define, the process is as easy as using a standard dictionary. Please note however, that like all secondary sources, definitions found in legal definitions are not authoritative or official statements of law.
Citing Legal Dictionaries:
Rather than cite to a legal dictionary, it is always best to cite to the primary authority providing a definition. However, when necessary Rule 15 of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, 20th ed. provides the following dictionary citation example:
Black's Law Dictionary 712 (9th ed. 2009).
This citation indicates that noted definition begins on page 712 of the volume.
There are also other types reference sources that can help you when beginning your research. These include dictionaries of legal usage and legal thesauri. Below are a list of examples from NGL's collection as well as a description of each.