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Law 792-A: Advanced Legal Research: Illinois: Class 1: Illinois: Basic Secondary Sources

This is guide to support an advanced legal research course which focuses on Illinois legal research.

Illinois: Basic Secondary Sources

Most of you probably remember your Law 627 professor telling you, over and over, to start your legal research with secondary sources. The advice is no different when thinking about jurisdiction-specific research.

The good news is that states usually have secondary legal sources specific to them. In this class, we will discuss two types of secondary sources: (1) basic/traditional and (2) advanced/practitioner. The traditional secondary categories are encyclopedias, treatises, and periodicals. While the American Law Reports (ALR), for instance, is considered a traditional secondary source and does cover state law, there is no Illinois specific version of the ALR.

In addition to focusing on state specific law, many of these resources are further specialized by area of law. 

Look over this page and peruse some of the offerings for traditional resources in Illinois. Have you used any before? What did you like about the resource? What did you not like? Which ones look most helpful? Are there traditional Illinois secondary materials which are specific to your legal interests? Which ones? 

Traditional Secondary Sources

Welcome to Illinois street sign

Definition: Secondary Sources

From LAW627 LibGuide:

A form of INTERMEDIATION, (see Unit 7 of LAW627 LibGuide) Secondary Sources analyze, explain, summarize, or comment on the law. These materials do not have the force of law, but instead provide helpful information to legal researchers. These sources are persuasive.

Secondary Sources help legal researchers understand an area of law, and provide citations to relevant primary sources.

Illinois Encyclopedias

Encyclopedias provide broad coverage over a wide array of topics. If you are not sure where to start, a legal encyclopedia is a good place to start. There are two main encyclopedias in Illinois.

Encyclopedias of Illinois Law:

  • Illinois Law and Practice
  • Illinois Jurisprudence 

Illinois Treatises

Treatise, is just a fancy legal word for "book." It can be a monograph (single volume) or a multi-volume set. Traditional treatises cover a topic start to finish. State-specific versions do this within the scope of the law for a given jurisdiction. In terms of practice-oriented materials, we will also look to items which may be referred to (or organized as) treatises, but which also function as handbooks and practical-guidance sources

Select Treatises Covering Specialized Topics in Illinois Law:

  • Parness, Illinois Civil Procedure Available on Lexis Advance and in print (KFI 1730 .P37) 
  • Ruebner, Illinois Criminal Procedure : Available on Lexis Advance and in print (KFI 1775 .I44)
  • Davis, Illinois Practice of Family Law : Available on Westlaw Edge
  • Gitlin, Gitlin on Divorce : Available on Lexis Advance and in print (KFI 1300 .G57)
  • Polelle, Illinois Tort Law : Available on Lexis Advance and in print (KFI 1395 .P64) 
  • McElroy, Horner Probate Practice and Estates : Available on Westlaw Edge and in print (KFI 1344 .H67x)
  • Midwest Transaction Guide : Available on Lexis Advance (covers Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan)
  • Sautter, Employment in Illinois: A Guide to Employment Laws, Regulations, and Practices: Available on Lexis Advance and in print (KFI 1531 .S282)

Illinois Practitioner Journals

Bar Journals and other magazine style periodicals may also be of assistance. These periodicals are more practice oriented and often have content which provides more how-to guidance or articles describing recent litigation and legislation pertinent to the jurisdiction.

Illinois Scholarly Journals

Scholarly journals are those journals which publish academic articles. These articles tend to focus on a legal problem or issue which the author has researched and which the author has posed some solution. Academic articles are high in theory, but often offer little practical advice. They can, however, be a great source for understanding the full reach of a problem, as well as its background. 

Though scholarly publications are often published by regional entities, such as law schools, their focus is usually much more broad. An Illinois law journal may not publish a single article specific to state law. Academic articles which do focus on a single state jurisdiction, however, are more likely to be published in a journal originating from said state.