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Secondary Sources in Legal Research: National Encyclopedias

Encyclopedias. Treatises, Periodicals, Restatement, American Law Reports and other secondary source material.

American Jurisprudence

  • Multivolume set
  • Published by West - Begun by another publisher
  • Topics in alphabetical order
  • Summary/Scope note at beginning of section
  • Some reference to statutes
  • Extensive footnotes to primary material
  • General index & New Developments volume
  • Heavily cross-referenced using West's Topic/Key Number indexing system

Corpus Juris Secundum

  • Original West Encyclopedia
  • Topic and sections in alphabetical order
  • Detailed table of contents
  • References to large number of cases; almost no statutes
  • Brief summary of legal principles in bold type at beginning of each article
  • Heavily cross-referenced using West's Topic/Key Number indexing system

Am Jur vs. CJS


  • Over reliance on case law, but more coverage on statutory law than C.J.S.
  • No comprehensive summary of state rules
  • Slow to recognize new areas of the law


  • Over reliance on case law
  • Sheer size of the set may make  it cumbersome
  • Slower to recognize new areas of law