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Legal Research

About Legal Secondary Sources

In legal research secondary sources refer to legal writings that do not emanate from the courts or legislation. They are the work of one or more authors who analyze the law.

Searching for secondary sources is typically the first step in legal research. They assist the researcher in first, explaining and understanding the law and second, locating the law. Often referred to as commentaries, these resources often include footnotes and citations that can direct you to relevant legislation and case law.

Secondary sources can be in print and electronic formats.

Examples of secondary sources include:

  • Textbooks
  • Treatises
  • Casebooks
  • Loose-leaf resources
  • Legal encyclopedias
  • Dictionaries
  • Books of words and phrases
  • Acronym and abbreviation guides
  • Journals and periodicals
  • Legal blogs and newspapers