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Guide to Free Online Legal Resources: Secondary Sources

This guide directs legal researchers to the best websites for locating legal information for free on the Web. It includes finding tools and legal search engines as well as primary sources from our three branches of government, both state and federal.

Specific Secondary Sources

Select a link below to be directed to that page for more information.

What Are Secondary Sources?

A row of legal books.Secondary sources help the researcher to identify and understand the law. Though generally not cited as legal authority, courts will sometimes use them to help explain legal terms or ideas. They include legal dictionaries and encyclopedias, journal articles, books, treatises, practice aids, self-help materials, and finding tools.

It is easier and generally more effective for a researcher to consult a secondary source to read about key statutes, regulations, and cases governing a particular area of law, e.g., family law, probate law, employment law, criminal law, before attempting to identify, locate and analyze those same resources using indexes for codes and regulations and digests for cases.