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Self-Help Legal Research Guide: Definitions & Terminology

This guide is designed to help non-lawyers navigate the Missouri legal system & offers tips on how to conduct legal research, explains Alternative Dispute Resolution, and offers resources on how to find an attorney.

Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

Books in our collection that can help with terminology and definitions.

Online Sources for Terminology & Definitions

Secondary Sources

Periodicals (Secondary Source)

Periodicals are considered “secondary sources” (meaning they are not the “law”), used for legal research. They are comprised of law and law-related materials written by law faculty (articles) and law students (notes and comments).  Law Reviews and Journals may be academic (when published by law schools) or professional (when published by Bar Associations or other organizations).

Periodicals are helpful for understanding a particular topic of the law and can also provide persuasive arguments regarding legal interpretations.  They are located on the Second Floor of the Law Library, and are organized alphabetically by title.  They do not have call numbers.

Treatises (Secondary Source)

Treatises (a fancy word for “extensively researched books that typically discuss one topic of law”) are also considered secondary sources. Many of these, as well as other study aids, are located in the Reserve Room and the Third Floor of the Law Library.

You can find treatises by subject, title or author using the Law Library's catalog.  You can also find a guide on recommended treatises for areas of law at: (Insert Cindy S.'s treatise url here).

American Law Reports (Secondary Source)

Last but not least, ALRs provide summaries for specific legal issues, and include references to case law, statutes, periodical articles, and other helpful resources. They are located on the First Floor of the Law Library in the set of low shelves nearest the computer lab.