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General Legal Research: Legal Encyclopedias

Information on basic primary and secondary legal sources.

Legal Encyclopedias

What are Legal Encyclopedias?

A legal encyclopedia is a multivolume text with short articles on different legal topics.  In general, a legal encyclopedia is arranged similarly to a general encyclopedia you may have used before.  It is organized alphabetically by topic and entries include reference to other secondary sources and/or primary authority.



Why use a Legal Encyclopedia?

Legal Encyclopedias are a great starting place when you want an introduction and general overview on a specific legal topic.  In addition, legal encyclopedia entries provide citations to other useful secondary sources, as well as primary authority.

Types of Legal Encyclopedias

There are 3 main types of legal encylcopedias.

  1. National
  2. State-specific
    • Summary of Pennsylvania Jurisprudence 2d: in print in the LRC and online in WestlawNext
    • Pennsylvania Law Encyclopedia: in print in the LRC and online in Lexis Advance
  3. Subject-specific
    • E.g. Fletcher Cyclopedia of Corporations: in print in the LRC and online in WestlawNext