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Secondary Sources: Legal Reviews & Journals

Legal Periodicals

Legal periodicals include law journals, law reviews, bar journals, commercial journals, and newspapers. For researchers, the most valuable aspect of these secondary sources is the citations to primary source materials found in the footnotes. Some of these periodicals may contain scholarly and academically oriented articles and others may be explanatory articles or contain "how to" content for a specific audience of practitioners.

Law Review & Journal Article Databases

Why read law review articles?

Reading a law review article is an important first step in your research because law review articles contain numerous (and usually exhaustive) citations and footnotes on your topic. Sometimes the the footnotes are more valuable to you as research tools than the text! The law review article highlights the debate on a topic. The author gives a viewpoint and lays out an argument.

Who writes law review articles?

Law review articles may be written by law students and noted authors.   Seldom will you cite to a law review article unless there is no primary source on your issue.  You may cite to a law review if the author is a highly influential and respected writer on a particular point of law.

When reading articles from legal periodicals, please keep the following in mind:

  • Coverage: Is your topic detailed or is it broad and general?
  • Reputation (periodical): Is this well known periodical in this particular area of the law?  Who are the other editors and authors writing for it?
  • Authority: Is the author reputable in that area of the law? Look at the author's biography and credentials.  Look for other articles or book written by the author..
  • Accuracy: Are the arguments supported by the cited authority?
  • Persuasiveness:  How well written is this article?  Is it clear, convincing, and logical?

This is the "CRAAP" test.

Law Reviews are not what you probably think...

Law Reviews are not what you probably think. They are not a "review" of the law.  Encyclopedias, treatises. hornbooks are the sources to consult for an explanation of the law. A law review is an opinion piece, a personal or philosophical point of view of the law or an issue of law. In an explanatory source, an editor describes the law. In a law review article, the author(s) reacts to the law.

Locating journals in the Gabrecht Law Library

In the Garbrecht Law Library, most legal periodicals are found on the third floor of the Library in the periodical room. We subscribe to HeinOnline, an electronic database that includes most law reviews and journals.