Secondary law is not the law itself, but it is someone's explanation of the law. Most secondary sources reference the primary source that is explained. This is helpful because finding appropriate secondary sources can point you to a primary source of law. Never rely on secondary sources as authority. ALWAYS read the primary law and cite it.
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Legal encyclopedias are multivolume works of information arranged alphabetically by subject or topic. Just like when you were a child and went to the encyclopedia for general information about animals, for example, you can look at a legal encyclopedia for general information about the law. The topics in a legal encyclopedia are broad. For example, you would find "negligence," "civil rights," and other general topics, but not "search and seizure in a stop and frisk," which is more specific. This last topic might, however, be a subtopic under civil rights. The two major encyclopedias (Am Jur 2d and C.J.S.) cover U.S. law. Others are state specific.
American Jurisprudence 2d is commonly known as Am. Jur. 2d. To see sample searches in Lexus Nexus for Am. Jur. 2d, follow the link associated with this topic.
Corpus Juris Secundum is commonly known as C.J.S.
American Law Reports (A.L.R.) covers U.S. law in states and American Law Reports Federal (A.L.R. Fed.) covers federal law. These provide citations to primary law from all states. The print versions of the A.L.R. contains leading cases and articales or annotations discussion the legal issues raised in those cases. The online versions through Westlaw and LEXIS contain only annotations.
A treatise is a publication covering a single legal topic, usually authored by a legal scholar or practicing attorney who specializes in that area of law. A treatise may be a single volume or multiple volume sets. Some are supplemented regularly. Others are never updated. To find a list of legal treatises, follow the link provided with this topic.
There are numerous periodicals and journals about the law. For example, many professional associations (like the American Bar Association) publish magazines. Selected articles from the magazines are published online at abajournal.com. Law reviews are periodicals. A law review is a publication from a law school. It contains articles writted by legal authorities on current legal issues. It may also include shorter articles by law students. Two indexes to legal periodicals are published. One is the Current Law Indexs and the other is Index to Legal Periodicals and Books. Information is found by the topic or under the author's name. For a list of legal periodicals, follow the link provided with this topic.
Form books are an invaluable tool for the paralegal. They contain sample forms to help in drafting legal office documents. Many form books provide explanations of the law related to the use of the form, including references to the controlling primary law. These are often multivolume sets and are published for practice in both state and federal courts.
Pleading and Practice Forms
Jury instructions are given by the judge to the jury at the end of a trial to help the jury apply the law to the evidence it has heard in the case. Jury instructions are not newly created for every trial. Instead, judges rely on pattern jury instructions. Pattern Jury Instructions are found in books. Each jury instruction provides a reference to the primary law that applies. Also, these statements of law are easy to understsand, as they are written for juries rather than for legal professionals.
A legal dictionary defines legal words and phrases. The most used legal dictionary is Black's Law Dictionary.
A legal thesaurus provides synonyms and antonyms for legal words.
Publixhed by West, this set is similar to a legal dictionary and contains numerous legal terms as they are defined in court opinions.
Looseleaf service is a type of secondary material that is published in binder format rather than as a book. This allows frequent updating of the law without the use of a pocket part. This type of service is typically used for areas of law regulated by administrative rules or regulations. For more information about looseleaf services, follow the link provided with this topic.
A Restatement is a multivolume work complied by The american Law Institute by well-known legal scholars. The Restatement is a "statement" of the principles of U.S. law as those principles exist today. The principles of law in a Restatement look similar to a statute or Code section. They often have comments and provide examples of law. This is not a primary source even though it is well-respected and often finds its way into the written opinions of judges. For more information about researching the Restatements of Law, follow the link attached to this topic.