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LRAC Legal Research Class Site

Locating Secondary Sources

There are a variety of sources you can use to locate potentially USEFUL secondary sources:

  • Westlaw, Lexis, etc.
  • Your boss/coworkers/people familiar with the area of law
  • Library catalogs (for books)
  • Google and Google Scholar
  • Research guides on the Internet

Considerations in Selecting Secondary Sources

You want to make sure you have a useful secondary source before you use it.

Ask yourself the following questions!

  • Is the source recently published (or updated with supplements)?
  • Is the source by a reputable author or publisher (use Google to find out)?
  • Does the source have information specific to my jurisdiction?
  • Does the source have information that is very specific to my topic?

Updating Secondary Sources

The law changes frequently so you want to use the most current secondary source you can find. Make it a habit to check the date of a source and determine whether it has been recently updated before you use it.  

Updating Print Sources

Single volumes

  • Often updated by a pocket part supplement in the back of a book 
  • Not all legal monographs (books) are updated - sometimes you just have to wait for a new edition

Multi-volume set

  • Multi-volume sets are usually updated
  • Supplements can be monthly, quarterly, or annually
  • Might have pocket parts in each volume or a free standing supplement that is shelved at the end of the set (or both)
  • You might have to check multiple supplements

Updating Online Sources

  • On Westlaw and Lexis+, click the little i next to the source name to find updating information