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IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law

Secondary Sources: Home

Secondary Sources provide a great starting point in your research process.

What's in this guide?

What are secondary sources?

Secondary Sources are legal sources written about the law, as opposed to "The Law" itself, which can be found in primary sources such as statutes, cases and regulations. Secondary Sources typically do three things:

  • Explain the law -- What is the current state of the law?
  • Analyze the law -- Why is the law what it is, and how did it develop to this point?
  • Provide legal arguments -- Should a particular law be extended to cover new areas or reduced to cover less ground?

Secondary sources are a great place to begin research in an area of law with which you are unfamiliar. They can also help you develop a legal argument by pointing you toward primary sources such as cases or statutes. 

Looking for journal articles?

See our Finding Articles guide for tips on searching scholarly and professional journals, another important type of secondary source. Journal articles often provide more focused treatment of narrower topics, and can cover new developments more quickly than other secondary sources can. The extensive footnotes in journal articles can also provide great leads for further research.

Can't find the title you need at the Downtown Campus?

If you're looking for a title that isn't available at the IIT Chicago-Kent Law Library, we have three convenient ways for Downtown Campus students, faculty, and staff to borrow books or request photocopies from other libraries.

Clare Gaynor Willis

Clare Willis