Legal Notes

The law is divided into Primary and Secondary Sources of the Law.

Primary Sources of Law: can be divided into two categories: (i) legislation (statutes, regulations, and orders-in-council) and (ii) case law (decisions of courts and administrative tribunals). Primary legal resources are the products of official bodies with the authority to make law. Thus, primary legal resources can affect the legal rights of citizens. In our law class we will use American Legal Net to research California cases and codes, and we will use Loislawschool.com to research federal case law and statutes.


Secondary Sources of Law: are background resources. Unlike primary resources, they do not have the power to affect legal rights, and are referred to instead for their instructive value and for the references they provide to relevant primary sources of law. Secondary legal resources include textbooks, legal journals, legal encyclopedias, and case law digests/summaries. Because of the broad overview of the law that they provide, secondary legal resources can be an excellent starting point for legal research.

Click here to learn how to use Americanlegalnet and Loislawschool.

Read information on Primary and Secondary Sources of Law

In the legal times of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, there were really only cases and codes, or primary law, and not much Secondary Sources of beckground/reference materials or sources of law. Today, of course, we have many more background legal resources.

To research law, you first phrase the legal question or issue to be researched, narrow the issue, and then go to Secondary Sources of Law to help you find the Primary Sources of Law. which will form your legal research memoranda.

Summary: Therefore know the difference between Primary vs. Secondary Sources of Law, and learn how to use Americanlegalnet.com and Loislawschool.com.


updated: 1/31/06 at 6:30 pm
Prof. J.