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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 the American Law Reports?

  • What are the American Law Reports?
    • The ALR are collections of comprehensive summaries, called annotations, on specific legal topics.
      • The term annotations is a little misleading as they can be very lengthy documents.
    • The author of an annotation discusses the seminal cases on the issue and also provides both citations to relevant case law and other helpful secondary sources.
    • The ALR consists of nine series.
      • Six adress federal and state issues.
      • Two are specific to federal issues.
      • One is for subjects pertaining to international law.
    • They exist in print and online searchable format on both Westlaw and LexisNexis.

When to use the American Law Reports?

  • When should you use them?
    • The ALR are most effictively used as the starting point for your research, whether preparing for a case or a research assignment.
    • From a practitioner's point of view they help organize case law in a way that will help one clarify and compose their legal position.
      • They also organize by jurisdiction.
    • If you are looking for a thorough legal memorandum on a specific topic that includes plenty of relevant citations then the ALR should be your first step. However, not all issues are covered in the ALR and make sure to use a current version as some annotations have been updated significantly.


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More Extensive Treatment of the American Legal Reports

CALI Audio Tour of the American Legal Reports:

Creighton Law ALR Tutorial Youtube video:

ALR Location at GSU Law Library

Disclaimer: The views and opinions of the authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the State of Georgia, and shall not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes. Georgia State University College of Law and the authors of the works contained on this website do not assume or accept any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, currentness, or comprehensiveness of the content on this website. The content on this website does not in any manner constitute the issuance of legal advice or counsel. The information on this website is intended to provide resources that may aid the research of the topics presented, and are in no way a comprehensive list of sources one should consult on the topics presented. Please note that case law, statutory law, and administrative law may be modified and/or overturned. Additionally, because the laws vary between jurisdictions, the laws referred to herein may or may not be applicable to the law within the reader’s jurisdiction.