Friday, June 02, 2006

Why use a Secondary Source?

Now that many of our students are out doing research in law firms and other legal settings, they are learning the real value of secondary sources. Why should a legal researcher use a secondary source?

  • a secondary source may provide an overview of the law. This is important so that the researcher uses the right terms while searching and will know what's important while sifting through the cases.
  • a secondary source might provide the answer to your question. Do you need to know what the exceptions to the statute of frauds are? I bet your state encyclopedia has a nice summary of the rule along with its exceptions.
  • secondary sources provide links or references to important cases. Sure it's great if you find a recent trial level case that proves your point, but it's even better if you can find the state supreme court case that established the rule.