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First-Year Student Research & Study Guide: Secondary Sources: Digests, Encyclopedias

A guide to help UC Hastings law students successfully manage their first year courses and legal research assignments.

Secondary Sources: Digests, Encyclopedias

Secondary sources are not themselves the law but discuss or analyze legal doctrine. Examples of secondary sources are treatises, hornbooks, restatements, and the academic journals (law reviews).  Even though secondary sources are not the law, they provide for important functions in legal research. Scholarly commentaries can propose changes in the law, clarify the sometimes bewildering array of statutes and court decisions, and provide current awareness about developing legal doctrines. Secondary sources can be found on Westlaw or LexisNexis.

Digests are another useful secondary source.  Legal digests such as West's California Digest 2d are a great way to find cases on a particular subject or to find cases that are similar to your case.  West's California Digest uses the West key number system as a tool to find useful case law both in print and online on Westlaw. How to Find A Case Using A Digest!

Most of the research tools needed for LW&R are available on the library's 4th Floor. See the library map for details.

Secondary Sources:

Name of Secondary Source
A.L.R., A.L.R. 2d, A.L.R. 3d, A.L.R. 4th, A.L.R. 5th, A.L.R. 6th
American Law Reports (First through Sixth)
A.L.R. Fed.
American Law Reports (Federal)
Am. Jur. 2d
American Jurisprudence (Second)
Corpus Juris Secudum
Cal. Jur. 3rd
California Jurisprudence
L. Rev. (e.g., Hastings L. J.)
Law Review (e.g. Hastings Law Journal)


Using the West Key Number System on Westlaw (video cast)   
"More Like This Headnote" on Lexis (video cast)
A Conversation with Prof. James Wagstaffe about Civil Procedure Research and Scondary Sources (iTunes podcast)