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Secondary Sources

Secondary sources criticize, describe, discuss, and summarize the law found in primary law sources. (Primary law includes constitutions, laws, judicial opinions, and regulations.)

Types of Periodicals

Law reviews (law journals)

  • Generally edited by law students and published by law schools.several law review issues
  • Include articles by law professors, judges, and other authors.
  • Include articles (called "notes" or "comments") written by students.
  • General (e.g., Washington Law Review) or specialized (e.g., Washington International Law Journal).
  • May be published by a professional association (e.g., Business Lawyer, published by the ABA) or a private publisher (e.g., Journal of Empirical Legal Studies).
  • Articles are often 25-75 pages long and heavily footnoted.
  • Articles are focused on particular issue, but generally provide background.
  • Articles usually take a position (e.g., suggesting a law reform or criticizing a decision).

Bar journals Issues of ABA Journal and Northwest Lawyer

  • Published by national, state, or local bar associations.
  • Articles by journalists or lawyers.
  • Articles are often short (1-3 pages) and illustrated.

Legal newspapers

  • Daily, weekly, or monthly.
  • National (e.g., National Law Journal) or local (e.g., New York Law Journal).
  • News on litigation, legislation, law practice, etc.

Standard news sources

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Broadcast
  • Often cover litigation, legislation, etc.

Legal newsletters

  • Daily, weekly, or monthly.
  • Focused on practice areas (e.g., tax, environmental law, asbestos litigation).
  • Available on Bloomberg Law (Bloomberg BNA newsletters), LexisNexis (selected publishers), Westlaw (selected publishers.

Journals from other fields

  • Legal scholars aren't the only ones who study legal topics. If your research project touches on history, political science, economics, business, public health, or any other subject, consider looking at works from those fields.
  • Great starting point: UW Libraries Research Guides.

Finding Periodical Articles

Full-text searching

  • Lexis and Westlaw law reviews and journals files. Bloomberg Law also has law reviews, but coverage starts much later.
  • Nexis Uni (for nonlaw students and others who do not have individual passwords to Lexis or Westlaw)
  • HeinOnline. Has PDFs of hundreds of journals, going back to the first volume. Great for retrieving articles to which you have a citation.
  • Google Scholar. Includes much more than law. See this tip for linking Google Scholar to UW Libraries' licensed databases.

Index plus some full text

Where Are They?

Print copies of most journals are in the Compact Stacks on L2, in alphabetical order by journal title.photo of Compact Stacks