Secondary legal sources discuss, explain, critique, and analyze the law. Secondary resources include encyclopedias, digests, books, and law journals. They are a good place to begin legal research. Primary legal sources are established law. Primary legal resources include statutes (laws enacted by a legislature) and judicial decisions (cases).
An example of a legal citation to a case is Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka refers to the party names.
347 refers to the volume number of the court report.
U.S. refers to the abbreviated name of the court reporter title in which the case is published.
483 refers to the page number of the case.
Contains several United States and international legal sources. These include a legal dictionary and legal encyclopedia. For example, American Jurisprudence 2d is an encyclopedic text of both procedural and substantive American law, state, federal, criminal, civil and procedural. Consisting of over 430 topic headings (titles), Am Jur 2d articles collect, examine, and summarize the broad principles of American law and, at the same time, provide direct leads to supporting cases, related annotations, forms, proofs, and trial techniques (note: Nexis Uni is no longer updating this resource). Nexis Uni also contains federal and state cases; Canadian, European Union, Australian, Hong Kong and other nations’ cases; US federal and state statutes and regulations; US law reviews; and US landmark cases. In addition, The Wolters Kluwer Bouvier Law Dictionary Desk Edition contains over definitions to over 11,200 legal words and phrases.
Finding federal and state court cases in Nexis Uni
Finding law journal articles in Nexis Uni
Finding U.S. federal and state legislation in Nexis Uni
HeinOnline is a premier online database containing more than 150 million pages and 160,000 titles of legal history and government documents in a fully searchable, image-based format. HeinOnline bridges the gap in historical research by providing comprehensive coverage from inception of more than 2,400 law-related periodicals. In addition to its vast collection of law journals, HeinOnline contains the entire Congressional Record, Federal Register, and Code of Federal Regulations, complete coverage of the U.S. Reports back to 1754, and entire databases dedicated to treaties, constitutions, case law, world trials, classic treatises, international trade, foreign relations, U.S. Presidents, and much more.
Can be used for course content: Law review articles and much more; permanent links.
Finding Supreme Court Cases in Hein Online
Finding Law Journals in Hein Online
(Note: The library ceased subscribing to updates of these resources in 2021)
Legal Encyclopedias and Digests
Print Court Reporters
Introduction to Basic Legal Citation (online ed. 2020) by Peter W. Martin
Open source guide courtesy of the Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School. This guide is based on The Bluebook (21st edition), ALWD Guide to Legal Citation and The Supreme Court's Style Guide.