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Law 627: Legal Research: Legal Encyclopedias

Legal Encyclopedias

Corpus Juris Secunmdum and American Jurisprudence 2d


The broadest coverage of the widest variety of legal topics are found in Legal Encyclopedias. 

When you don’t know which type of Secondary Source to use,


There are two National Legal Encyclopedias:

Corpus Juris Secundum (CJS) (Westlaw Edge or print)

   CJS is considered more scholarly and historical 

American Jurisprudence 2d (AmJur) (Lexis+, Westlaw Edge, or print)

   AmJur is considered more practitioner-oriented 

Many states also have Legal Encyclopedias. Illinois has two:

Illinois Law & Practice (Westlaw Edge or print)

Illinois Jurisprudence (Lexis + or print)


Legal Encyclopedias sometimes use "hidebound" (old) terms, so it's always a good idea to begin in the INDEX.  

      Example:  when you look up Sale of Real Property, you will be directed to a topic called Vendor & Purchaser.


American Jurisprudence - General Index

Sale of Real Property, Vendor & Purchaser This Index

Vendor & Purchaser


acceptance, above

offers, below








This Index = find the index volume that covers the letter V and look there for Vendor & Purchaser

above = stay in this listing, but look for a sub-topic above (supra)

below = stay in this listing, but look for a sub-topic below (infra)


Legal Encyclopedias are updated with annual Pocket Parts.  

   Be sure to check the same Topic and Section Number in the pocket part insert in the back of the volume.