Bridge the Gap 2003

Secondary Sources Handout

Stephanie Wilson

  1. Types of Secondary Sources

    1. Legal Encyclopedias

    2. American Law Reports

    3. Restatements of the Law

  2. Finding Secondary Sources

    1. Washington

    2. General Sources

    3. Finding Legal Periodicals

  3. Finding Secondary Sources on Westlaw and Lexis

  4. Articles About the Authoritative Weight of Secondary Sources


I. Types of Secondary Sources:

A) Legal Encyclopedias

Using an encyclopedia is an easy way to get an overview of an area of law from a multi-jurisdictional perspective. Structured like a typical encyclopedia, legal encyclopedias are organized alphabetically by broad topic with a detailed subject index for access.

The two major legal encyclopedias, Corpus Juris Secundum and American Jurisprudence, 2d, are national in scope and both cover federal and state issues. Each title also includes pocket part supplements and subject indexes.

American Jurisprudence 2d

Corpus Juris Secundum

B) American Law Reports

Using A.L.R. annotations can save research time. The series editor begins by selecting a key case in a growing area of law and then writes an annotation. The resulting essay comments on the points of law raised in that case by exploring related decisions from all over the country. The footnotes, law review, and treatise references offer a good launching point for research. Don’t forget to look at the corollary references if the annotation you are examining is not exactly on point. You can manually search for information by using the ALR Index located at the end of the set.

American Law Reports

C) Restatements of the Law

The Restatements have garnered a reputation as authoritative statements of the common law cited by practitioners, scholars, and judges alike as persuasive authority. They usually take the form of a black letter rule followed by notes, comments and illustrations designed to show how the rules have been applied. Although the Restatements cover a narrow range of subjects, they can provide a good research approach for the topics they include regardless of jurisdiction. To locate the titles in paper use the same terms (i.e., restatement and a title word) in a keyword search on MARIAN (the UW Law Library system) or THEO at Seattle University Law Library.

The current Restatement topics are: Agency, Conflict of Laws, Contracts, Foreign Relations Law of the United States, Judgments, Law Governing Lawyers, Property (Landlord & Tenant, Donative Transfers, Wills and Other Donative Transfers, Mortgages, Servitudes), Restitution, Security, Suretyship and Guaranty, Torts (Apportionment of Liability, Liability for Physical Harm, Products Liability), Trusts (Prudent Investor Rule) and Unfair Competition.

Westlaw access: Use the Database Wizard to generate a list of all Westlaw locations of restatements, then check boxes of restatements relevant to your topic.

Lexis access: To see a list of restatements on Lexis, follow this tab list; Legal- Secondary Legal- Restatements.

II. Finding Secondary Sources:

A. Washington:

1. Hazelton, Penny et al., Washington Legal Researcher's Deskbook, 3rd. Ed., 2002 .
    Seattle University Law Library Location: Open Reserve KFW75.W373

Chapter four contains a list of Washington specific practice material organized by broad topic. Use this chapter to identify what books address a particular area of law.

2. West’s Washington Law Finder, 2003 Edition.
Seattle University Law Library Location: Reference Desk KFW62.W47

B. General Sources:

1. Doyle, Francis R. Searching the Law, 2d. Edition.
Seattle University Law Library Location: Reference KF240.B265 1998

2. Doyle, Francis R. Searching the Law: The States, 4th Edition.
Seattle University Law Library Location: Reference KF240.D69 2003

3. Svengalis, Kendall, Legal Information Buyer's Guide and Reference Manual, 2003 Edition,
    Seattle University Law Library Location: Reference Desk KF1.S84

Chapter 27 identifies important legal treatises and other subject specialty materials. These are organized by area of law, and describe the treatise, its coverage, and its strengths and weaknesses. A quick resource for identifying the major treatises in an area of law.

4. Chanin, Specialized Legal Research, 2002
    Seattle University Law Library Location: Reference Desk KF240 C43

General bibliography of sources for specialized areas of law.

C. Finding Legal Periodicals:

Law reviews and journals reflect the latest thinking on topical issues. Close to a thousand titles are published in the United States. To find articles on particular topics use either Current Law Index or Index to Legal Periodicals. Both titles offer indexes by author, title, subject, case, and statute. They are also available on Lexis, Westlaw, and through the electronic database list on THEO.

1. Index to Legal Periodicals
Seattle University Law Library Location: Reference, Range 2B
    Lexis: Legal-Secondary Legal-Annotations and Indexes Westlaw: ILP (from 1981 forward)

2. Current Law Index (also known online as Legal Resource Index)
    Seattle University Law Library Location: Reference, Range 2B
    Lexis: Legal-Secondary Legal- Annotations and Indexes.
    Westlaw: LRI (from 1980 forward)

3. Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals: Coverage includes articles published in all countries except the United States, Great Britain, and the English Commonwealth. Subjects include public and private international law, comparative law, and municipal law.
    Seattle University Law Library Location: Reference, Range 2B
    Online access: Seattle University students may access this index through THEO’s list of electronic databases.
    Westlaw access may be provided by your employer.

III. Finding Secondary Sources on Westlaw and Lexis:

Both services provide several ways to access material. Here is a quick summary.

1. If you know the name of the source:

If you have a specific secondary source to search, try using one of these:

Westlaw: Find-a-Database-Wizard

This is on the left column of the "welcome" screen. Type the name of the source (for example, "Washington Practice"); you don't need to use connectors. The box will lead to templates - check these off as appropriate, and keep going. The end result will show where Washington Practice is housed on Westlaw. You can then access the database.

Lexis: "Find a Source"

This tab is under "Look for a Source" on the opening screen. Type the name of the source in the box; the result will show you everywhere your source is housed on Lexis.

2. To see a list of databases :

This is handy if you have an idea of what you are looking for; for example, if you want materials for a specific jurisdiction.

Westlaw: Directory:

This is located along the top of the screen; you can also access it on the left where it says, "view Westlaw directory." The Directory gives you an expandable tree of sources, and is useful if you already know something specific about what you are looking for. (For example, if you know you want to find secondary materials pertaining specifically to Washington, you can easily see a list of those using the Directory. Select Washington, and the list opens up to include cases, statutes, forms and treatises. Open "forms and treatises" to see Washington specific forms and treatises.)

Lexis: Look for a Source:

This tab is on the opening screen. Here you will see folders of material divided up by type; legal, news, public records, etcetera. You can see jurisdictionally specific secondary sources by opening up "States Legal." You can also explore secondary sources by hitting the "Secondary Legal" folder. This will lead to further choices, including law reviews, area of law treatises, and bar journals, which you can then search.

3. To see sources by subject area:

These points of entry are helpful if you are just getting started. They may not give you all secondary sources in an area, but they will break topics into smaller pieces, suggest sources, and give you a way to examine the specific topic within those suggested sources.

Westlaw: KeySearch

Access this via the "KeySearch" tab on the top. This option will show folders of main legal topics. Click a folder and you will see further sub-divisions within the topic. Eventually, you will be led to a screen that allows you to search that topic in either primary or selected secondary sources.

Lexis: Search Advisor and Practice Area Pages:

Search Advisor:

Access this from the "Search Advisor" tab at the top of the page. This option on Lexis presents materials arranged by legal topic. Click on a folder to see further divisions within that topic. Eventually, this option will show you excerpts of secondary sources on your topic, and allow topic specific case law searching.

Practice Area Pages:

Access this via the small button at the top of the screen. While not available on every topic, the Practice Area Pages provide one-stop shopping for areas of law. Select an area and the topic will open to include topic specific searchable areas for news, primary authority, and secondary sources. The "New Litigation Associates" section (under Litigation) also provides help for specific tasks, such as motion drafting, discovery, and trial preparation.

IV. Articles about the Authoritative Weight of Secondary Sources:

A). McClintock, Michael, The Declining use of Legal Scholarship by the Courts: An Empirical Study, 51 Oklahoma Law Review 659 (1998)

B). Turkington, Richard, Legacy of the Warren and Brandeis Article: The Emerging Unencumbered Constitutional Right to Informational Privacy, 10 Northern Illinois Law Review 479 (1990)

C). Kaye, Judith, One Judge’s View of Academic Law Review Writing, 39 Journal of Legal Education, 313 (1989)