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Secondary Sources

This guide will provide descriptions of many different kinds of secondary sources as well as tips on how to find and use them.


American Law Reports (ALR) exist somewhere between encyclopedias and periodicals. ALRs contain in-depth articles, called annotations, on narrow issues in the law. Like periodicals, ALRs are published in issues throughout the year. Like an encyclopedia, the annotations are written by commercial publishers rather than academic scholars, and contain descriptions of the law, rather than analysis.

ALR has a very good index, and the titles of annotations tend to be very descriptive, and the second section of each annotation refers readers to related annotations, all of which makes relevant annotations easy to find. Annotations are also updated periodically to reflect changes in the law, so the information is usually fairly current, although it is important to update the citations before using them.

ALR is not as comprehensive as the legal encyclopedias, and there may not be an annotation on the subject you are researching. If there is, however, you will generally be provided with excellent information to guide your research. This is an excellent place to start researching, especially if you know a little about the area of law, but not the specific question you're researching.


You can find ALRs on Westlaw by browsing to Secondary Sources, and selecting American Law Reports.

You can find ALR annotations on Lexis by searching in Secondary Materials and narrowing your results by Source to American Law Reports.

You can also type ALR into the search box on either platform, and select American Law Reports from the dropdown list.

In Print

The law library no longer carries an up to date print copy of ALR, so accessing it online is strongly recommended.

When using ALR in print, start with the index, which should lead you to the relevant annotations. Your annotation may have been updated, so check the pocket part at the end of the volume to see if there is any new information on your topic.

American Law Reports 6th
LAW STATE basement  KF 132 .A436 NOT UPDATED

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