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Secondary Material

Page history last edited by Cecilia Tellis 12 years, 2 months ago

1.  Introduction

A secondary legal resource, as the term implies, is not the law itself and is often used as a sort of “backup” to a primary source. These types of resources summarize, compile, explain, comment on, interpret, or in some other way address the law. They can be used to:

  • Obtain background information on a new or unfamiliar topic; help you to define the issues; define keywords

Consult: legal encyclopedias, treatises, periodicals

  • Locate primary authority on a question being researched. This is often an easier route to finding the law; secondary sources are more “approachable” and less intimidating than going through indexes to statutes or regulations

Consult: digests of cases, citators, annotated codes/acts

  • Be relied on by the court when reaching a decision if there is no primary source governing a legal question or it is unclear how the primary source applies to the question at hand.

Consult: treatises, law reviews, Restatements of the Law


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