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Secondary Sources - A Brief Overview: Expedite Your Research!

A basic introduction
Last Updated: Mar 15, 2022 11:38 AM

Secondary Sources

Secondary Sources

Why should I use a secondary source?

  • To get background information on a legal topic
  • To get references to primary sources and other secondary sources
  • To expedite your research - take advantage of the knowledge and expertise of an expert in the field

ALR (American Law Reports)

ALR (American Law Reports)

Why should I use ALR?

To find cases from many different jurisdictions on a very narrow topic. It allows you to see trends in case law across jurisdictions.

Available in print:

Available Online:

Legal Encyclopedias

Encyclopedias

A great place to start your research, especially if you are researching a topic new to you. Footnotes will lead you to relevant cases and statutes.

Available in print:

Available online:

Treatises

Treatises

What is a treatise?

A one- or multiple-volume work on a particular legal area written by an expert. Excellent place to familiarize yourself with a subject and obtain references to primary sources. Two examples of treatises in print format in the Law Library:

How can I identify a treatise on a particular topic?

  • Use a guide, e.g.:
          Legal Information Buyer’s Guide & Reference Manual
          by Kendall F. Svengalis  KF 1 L427 (Law Library Reference Desk)
  • Search the UB Online Catalog and filter results for "Law Library"
  • Check the annotations in annotated codes (e.g., USCA, USCS, McKinney’s, CLS…)
  • Consult the  Legal Research Guides (LibGuides) from the UB Law Library
  • Consult Legal Research Guides from other Law School Libraries, e.g.Georgetown

Treatises online:

Restatements

Restatements

What are the Restatements?

Detailed summaries of the law of the United Stated published by the ALI (American Law Institute).
"Restatements are primarily addressed to courts and aim at clear formulations of common law and its statutory elements, and reflect the law as it presently stands or might appropriately be stated by a court." (from the American Law Institute (ALI) website)

Available in print:

Available online:

Pattern Jury Instructions

Pattern Jury Instructions

Why should I consult jury instructions?

These instructions are useful for background research because each instruction is followed by a comment which explains the legal rules and any cases the rules originate from. The language tends to concisely describe the laws and rules in "plain English."

Available in print:

Available online:

Law Review and Journal Articles

Periodical Indexes and Full-text Article Databases

Law review and journal articles can be located by searching 'periodical indexes" or by searching databases with the full text of articles.
Links to law and law-related indexes and full-text article databases available at UB are located here:

Legal Databases by Subject: Journals & Indexes

Online Catalogs

Library Online Catalogs

A useful tool for identifying books and other materials on topics of interest.

A UB Online Catalog  SEARCH will lead you to:
     • Books on the shelf in all the UB Libraries
     • Selected E-Books UB subscribes to
    • Titles of Journals (in paper or electronic format)
     • Websites (selective)
     • Titles of Microform collections

Other Library Catalogs to Explore:
(WHY? If you can identify it, we can get it for you! Use Delivery+ to place a request!)
     • Harvard Law Library (HOLLIS)
     • Library of Congress
     • New York Public Library
     • British Library

Search thousands of online catalogs at once (3 versions of WorldCat):
     • First Search WorldCat  TIP: Click on “Advanced Search”
     • WorldCat Discovery
     • WorldCat.org (Free version)[once you click on a search result, enter your zip code under “Find a copy in the Library”]