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Basic Legal Research Guide: Secondary Sources

This Guide (formerly known as the First Year Legal Research Guide) tracks the Fall Basic Legal Research Course at Loyola University Chicago's School of Law

Study Aids

There are a number of series of study aids that are extremely popular with U.S. law students.

The books in West's Nutshell Series provide succinct summaries of the law in a wide range of subjects. Legal Research in a Nutshell, for example, is a guide to the legal research process in general and to the specific sources used to research the law. A free companion website provides links to the online sources referenced in the Nutshell. This resource is part of the Law Library's "Academic Success" collection and is shelved on the 3rd floor. All of the books in the Nutshell Series are also available electronically through West's "Academic Study Aids Subscription," which is accessible for LUC law students and faculty. By creating a free West Academic account (LUC law community only), it is possible to highlight text and take notes online.

The Law Library also subscribes to the LexisNexis Digital Library, a study aids platform that includes access to the Understanding series, the Mastering series, and the Questions & Answers series. A current Loyola Law School ID and password is necessary to access the Digital Library and also allows you to customize your experience by saving favorite titles and highlighting and annotating content.

Another series popular with U.S. law students is Wolters Kluwer's "Examples & Explanations" (a/k/a E & Es). Each book summarizes a specific area of law and provides useful hypotheticals. The Law Library owns all of the books in the series, and the most recent editions are on reserve behind the Circulation Desk. Loyola law students can also access the books in the Examples & Explanations series online via the Law Library's subscription to the Aspen Learning Library (a valid Loyola Law School ID and password are required for off-campus access).

Below is a link to a complete list of the titles included in the "Examples & Explanations" series.

Examples & Explanations Series

About Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are publications that describe, comment on, or analyze the law (as opposed to primary sources, which contain the actual texts of the law). Many different types of publications are included in this category: legal dictionaries, legal encyclopedias, American Law Reports, law reviews, Restatements, and treatises. Secondary sources can be valuable at the beginning of a research project because they can provide a researcher with an overview of an unfamiliar subject area, introduce key terminology, and provide citations to important primary source materials.

Keep in mind that secondary sources are not the law and thus cannot be binding precedent (i.e., courts do not have to follow them). Occasionally, however, certain types of secondary sources can be used as persuasive authority.

Subject Guide

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Patricia Scott
Director, Law Library & Clinical Professor of Law

Philip H. Corboy Law Center

25 E. Pearson St.

Chicago, IL 60611

(312) 915-8515