Secondary sources are excellent sources to consult when beginning to research a legal issue. Secondary sources provide valuable commentary and analysis on the law, can assist a researcher with developing search terms, and provide references to seminal and authoritative primary sources.
Some of the best types of secondary sources to consult at the beginning of a research project are:
Legal encyclopedias provide a very concise overview of a broad range of topics, and include references to primary and secondary legal sources. There are two legal encyclopedias that cover Georgia law: Georgia Jurisprudence and the Encyclopedia of Georgia Law. Of the two, only Georgia Jurisprudence is currently being updated.
Georgia Jurisprudence, published by Thomson West, covers a range of topics applicable to most common legal issues, such as torts, family law, property, and criminal law. When using Georgia Jurisprudence in print, researchers should make sure to check the pocket parts at the back of each volume for updates to information in the bound volume.
The Encyclopedia of Georgia Law, published by the Harrison Company, ceased publication in 2002. Nevertheless, this resource can still be quite useful, as it covered several topics not included in Georgia Jurisprudence.
In addition to these to Georgia specific legal encyclopedias, researchers may find the two national encyclopedias useful when initially researching a topic. Both American Jurisprudence 2d (Am. Jur. 2d) and Corpus Juris Secundum (C.J.S.) provide references to state and federal primary sources.
While a legal encyclopedia may provide a few paragraphs or pages of commentary on a legal issue, a treatise may include an entire chapter on that same issue. Generally, treatises provide both a broad outline and a detailed analysis of the issues encompassed by the area of law.
Identifying a treatise that covers your legal issue is the first step in utilizing these resources. There are several articles and books that contain bibliographies of Georgia treatises, organized by topic.
Due to copyright reasons, there are no free online sources of Georgia treatises.
Law reviews and journals published by law schools provide the most thorough analysis of a very specific legal issue. While the articles are academic in nature, they do provide researchers with a wealth of information on a legal issue. Many academic law review articles are heavy footnoted, which provide researchers with citations to seminal cases, fifty-state surveys, and references to other secondary sources. All of the Georgia law schools maintain one or more law journals.
Bar journals are published by state and local bar associations, and are generally shorter than their academic counterparts. Nevertheless, bar journals can be particularly useful for attorneys because their articles are practice oriented. The State Bar of Georgia publishes the Georgia Bar Journal six times a year.
Legal newspapers are a great source of current legal developments. In Georgia, the premier legal newspaper is the Daily Report (formerly the Fulton County Daily Report). Access new articles via the Daily Report website. Access older articles via Lexis.