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Legal materials can fall into two different categories: (1) Primary and (2) Secondary. Secondary sources are about the law. They explain, analyze, interpret, discuss, and cite to primary sources. Examples of secondary sources include:
- Legal Dictionaries
- Legal Encyclopedias
- American Law Reports
- Legal periodicals
Secondary sources can only be persuasive, they can never be mandatory or binding on a court of law. The persuasive value of a secondary source depends on its author. Using secondary sources can save legal researchers time and money.
Practice Tools are a subset of secondary sources. Examples of practice tools are:
- Form books
- Desk books
- Jury verdict and settlement reporters
Research Process Flowchart
Where do secondary sources fall in the research process? Well, if you’re following a basic research strategy, after you analyze your facts, you'll want to consult secondary sources to learn more about your issues and to get references to primary sources.