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What are Secondary Sources?
Primary Sources are the statements of law themselves (cases, statutes, regulations, etc.). They are usually issued by a governmental entity or appointee (court, legislature, government agency, etc.). They can be be binding or persuasive.
Secondary Sources are things written about “the law” by legal experts in a special area (judges, scholars, lawyers, etc.). They discuss, explain and analyzethe law. They are always only persuasive.
Types of Secondary Sources
American Law Reports (A.L.R.)
Topical Services ("Looseleafs")
Blogs, News, and Everything Else
Why do I use Secondary Sources?
Easier to read than the text of cases and statutes;
Discuss, explain and analyze cases, statutes and legal issues;
Provide extensive citations to other primary/secondary sources;
Contain information about the history and current development of a legal issue.
Caveat:Always check how current the secondary source is!
When do I use Secondary Sources?
Use them to jumpstart your research: gain a quick understanding of the structure and substance of law;
Use them to do in-depth research about a narrow area of law;
Use them to increase your awareness of the emerging issues/new areas of law;
User them to finetune your searches in databases: learn the basic terminology and doctrines of an area of law.