Skip to Main Content

Legal Research: A Guide to Secondary Resources


In the context of secondary legal resources, articles typically present a highly detailed examination of a particular topic, sometimes with historical context.

Legal periodicals are helpful in locating cases and statutes in a highly particular subject area. Periodicals are also an excellent method of locating current information. Emerging subjects that are new or too specialized to be covered in books can often be found in periodicals. Articles in periodicals describe, analyze, and comment on the current state of the law. There are numerous types of legal periodicals available, including law school journals and law reviews, bar association journals, legal newspapers, and legal newsletters.

To identify relevant articles, researchers typically use an electronic index or research database, such as the Index to Legal Periodicals & Books or HeinOnline.

Resources for Finding Articles in Legal Periodicals

Annotated law reports provide articles that analyze and discuss particular points of law. They focus on narrow legal issues rather than general points of law. The essays analyze and describe cases from every jurisdiction that have taken a position on the topic covered. Along with case citations, the articles provide references to statutes, digests, texts, treatises, law reviews, and legal encyclopedias. The American Law Reports (ALR) series by Thomson/West is the most comprehensive set of annotated law reports. The series currently comprises several series: ALR (now in its 7th series), ALR Federal (now in its 3rd series), and ALR International.  Locate articles of interest via the print Index volumes. Electronic access to this resource is available on Westlaw.

ALR in Print

The print materials listed below link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online resources are provided when available.

Electronic Database

The subscription resource here marked with a padlock is available to researchers on-site at the Library of Congress. If you are unable to visit the Library, you may be able to access these resources through your local public or academic library.