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Secondary Sources

This guide will help explain why you should generally start your legal research with secondary resources, which to use for your research task, and how to use them effectively.

What are Restatements?

  • Restatements are an attempt to organize and codify the common law of the United States.
    • They are promulgated by the American Law Institute, which is an organization that consists of attorneys, judges and law professors.
  • There are thirteen Restatements covering broad areas of law, such as: Contracts, Property, and Torts.
  • They are not primary law but they can carry weight as persuasive authority.

When to use Restatements?

  • Restatements are used in a wide variety of ways.
    • They are sometimes used in court as persuasive authority, especially when that jurisdiction is making a preliminary ruling about a certain issue in the law.
    • They are used in preparing other secondary sources as predictions of how the law is evolving.
      • They are often used in preparing legal periodicals, treatises, and hornbooks.

How to use Restatements?

  • The format of the various Restatements vary slightly, most volumes have a Table of Contents at the front of the volume, followed by the text, which wille be in chapter, title and section order.
  • A very detailed index usually appears at the end of the volume or set of volumes. Each section will state the specific findings of the section, followed by comments from the drafters.

Examples of Restatements

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