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Finding Texas Law in the Tarlton Law Library

About Secondary Sources

These sources, which come in a variety of different forms, comment, summarize, and explain the law. Secondary sources are an excellent starting place for researchers who are unfamiliar with a particular subject or those who need to refresh their memories. Through secondary sources, a researcher can learn the vocabulary of an area of law and the context in which that law will be used. Starting a research problem without the necessary background and terminology is most often an exercise in wasted time and effort.

While secondary sources are a terrific way to obtain background information and additional sources, they are not the law. Only very rarely will you cite to a secondary source.

Major Secondary Sources

Practice Guides - Written with practitioners in mind, these sources provide procedural information as well as forms to guide the attorney.

Legal encyclopedia - Texas Jurisprudence, now in its third edition, provides very general background information on different areas of Texas law. It will also provide citations to additional sources in which to do research - cases, law reviews, practice materials.

  • Uses - Generally used to get a broad overview of a subject, serve as a way to get familiar with the terminology of an area of law.
  • Features -
    • General index
    • Separate title indexes
    • Updated by pocket parts and new volumes.
  • Location - KFT 1265 T4 1979

American Law Reports (A.L.R.) - Although the American Law Reports are national in scope, they can still be helpful for specific state research through the Table of Jurisdictions Represented. Originally published to compete with the West National Reporter System, A.L.R. publishes only “significant” cases. Each case is accompanied by an essay, or annotation, that explains issues raised by the case. In addition to discussing the law, annotations also provide summaries and lists of cases from other jurisdictions dealing with the same issue.

  • Uses - Generally used as a law finder; citations to cases, statutes, and other secondary sources.
  • Location - Stack 217

Additional Sources