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Secondary Sources: Legal Encyclopedias


Legal encyclopedias provide general and in-depth explanations on topics in federal and state law, and coverage varies significantly by resource. The articles in legal encyclopedias often provide researchers concise explanations with a focus on case law. However, they have limited references to statutes or other secondary sources.

American Jurisprudence Second (Am. Jur. 2d)

American JurisprudenceAMJUR New topic service

American Jurisprudence, often referred to as Am. Jur., is a multi-volume legal encyclopedia that contains topical overviews of procedural and substantive American federal and state law. Am. Jur. articles also provide citations to on-point cases, annotations, forms, proofs, and trial techniques for each legal topic, where applicable.

Am. Jur. and Am. Jur. 2d are available in print in the Law Library. Additionally, Am. Jur. 2d is available electronically on Westlaw and Lexis Advance, and current students should access these databases through the Law Library Databases page.

Corpus Juris Secundum (C.J.S.)

Corpus Juris Secundum, often referred to as C.J.S., is the continuation of Corpus Juris. The articles are often filled with more detail than necessary for a very basic understanding of the legal topic. Researchers who would like a more thorough background on a legal topic may prefer the level of depth provided in a C.J.S. article over Am Jur.

Current editions of C.J.S. are available on Westlaw, which current students should access through the Law Library Databases page. The Law Library no longer updates this resource in print.

Using Print Legal Encyclopedias

There are a variety of ways you can search for a legal topic in a print legal encyclopedia:

Descriptive Word Approach: look up key terms in the general index, then locate the appropriate volume for the topic and section

Topic Approach: legal topics are arranged alphabetically in the volumes. Locate the appropriate volume for the area of law, then review the "scope note" to confirm the relevant issue is included in the narrative. A review of the outline of the topic will direct the researcher to the appropriate section.

Table of Statutes Approach: identify a relevant statute, administrative regulation, or uniform law in the Table of Statutes, then locate the appropriate volume for the topic and section

Table of Cases Approach: C.J.S. provides an alphabetical Table of Cases, located in a softcover volume shelved after the main volumes of the set; Am. Jur. does not provide a Table of Cases

Things to Remember

  • Each major topic in the multi-volume sets will provide one broad and one detailed outline at the front of the section that informs the researcher of what is covered in the particular encyclopedia article. The two outlines will assist the researcher in placing the topic in context with other similar topics. 
  • The scope note informs the reader of the coverage for the particular article, which is helpful because it quickly indicates if the researcher will need to look for the legal topic in other "related issues" articles. 
  • To update the text of a legal encyclopedia, check the pocket parts found in the back of the applicable volume and/or in a soft-cover supplement.

Blue Book Citation

Bluebook B8.  Rule 15 and 15.8.

Example:17 Am. Jur. 2d Contracts § 74 (1964).

State Specific Legal Encyclopedia

While some states have state-specific legal encyclopedias, Oklahoma does not. As an example, Texas Jurisprudence ("Texas Jur") is a multi-volume set that analyzes Texas legislation and case law (state and federal). Texas Jur also contains a Words and Phrases Index.

800 N. Harvey Oklahoma City, OK 73102 405.208.5271