Secondary Legal Resources

Secondary Legal Resources

Introduction

Secondary legal resources refers to materials, which discuss while explaining, interpreting and analyzing how a given law should be. The elements extensively provide more incite to the primary legal material and add to already existing secondary legal materials (Smith, 2004). The secondary resources include the treatises, legal encyclopedias, restatements, legal newspapers, law reviews, annotated law reports, legal periodicals, loose-leaf services, legal directories etc.

Secondary resources address and educate about a certain law, to direct the concerned to a primary law and lastly they serve as a convincing authority (Hames & Ekern, 2015). The materials restates sorts and organizes the common law in a manner that incorporates the legal provisions text, commentaries from officials and notes (Schanck, Johnson, Maslow, Coad, McWilliams, & University of Michigan, 2007). The sources are written by a legitimate organization composed of professors, legal advisors and judges. Restatements comprises of chapters, titles and sections where each section begin by restatement of the law then illustration of the law hypothetically. Restatements impacts on the choices made by the court. Example of a restatement include; restatement of the law governing lawyers (American Law Institute, 2000). Link; http://lccn.loc.gov/00711065

Annotated law reports on the other hand provide essays, which analyze and examine specific law purpose. The materials usually concentrate narrowly on legal issues instead of general-purpose law (Schanck et al., 2007). The cases in the articles describe and analyze from all jurisdiction angle. Link to annotated law report is http://lccn.loc.gov/79009684.

Advantages of secondary sources

  • Clarification of a research question; secondary resources clarifies a given issue raised within the research.

The sources are easy to access; accessibility of secondary sources has greatly improved from the past where researchers had to visit libraries to get reports or wait for reports to be sent via mails. With the internet and online connections, accumulation of data has been conveniently enhanced thereby vital information can be easily retrieved.

  • Low cost of accessibility; secondary sources are less costly compared to the researchers conducting the research themselves. Most published materials are accessed at little or no cost.
  • They sometime answer research question; using secondary data help the researcher focus on given issue of interest and in the process realize the solution to the question at hand. This eliminates the need to carry out any primary research.

Limitations of secondary sources

  • Quality of the research may not be of high standard since they are self- governed. For this reason it is important to scrutinize the secondary resource closely to avoid getting biased information.
  • They are not specific to researcher’s needs; the researchers have to search the important information and present them in a manner that they require.
  • They may provide incomplete information. Some secondary resources do not conclude on the problem at hand.
  • The sources are not timely and therefore one has to be cautious not to use outdated information. An outdated research does not address the current issues
  • The sample data used to conduct the result may be small and thus provide inaccurate information.

The use secondary resources can be justified by the facts such as alphabetical arrangements in encyclopedias and broad topics to choose from written by multiple authors (Pauwels, Fariss & Buckley, 2009). The scenario gives a god overview about various topics of interest. Also, one can focus entirely on a single jurisdiction. Reports provide a comprehensive insight and analysis of a specific topic on a given legal issue at hand (Ward, 2014). Annotations provides detailed summary on various cases having analysis discussed in-depth. The materials also show how particular issues are dealt with from all over the country (Olson, 2015). Lastly, secondary resources provides model language to use and therefore can save drafting time and act as guidance in approaching a legal issue.

References

Hames, J. B., & Ekern, Y. (2015). Legal research, analysis, and writing (5th Ed.). Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Olson, K. C. (2015). Principles of legal research (2nd Ed.). St. Paul, MN: West.

Pauwels, C. K., Fariss, L. K., & Buckley, K. A. (2009). Legal research: Traditional sources, new technologies. Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation.

Smith, S.D. (2004) Law’s Quandary, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London.

Schanck, P. C., Johnson, B. S., Maslow, L. S., Coad, R., McWilliams, B. A., & University of Michigan. (2007). Secondary legal sources. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Law Library.

Ward, W. S. (2014). British periodicals & newspapers, 1789-1832: A bibliography of secondary sources. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.

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