Legal dictionaries interpret legal vocabulary and you can cite them for definitions in memos and briefs. The main legal dictionary is called Black’s Law Dictionary. Black’s can be found on Westlaw and at KF156.B53 in reference section and on the 4th floor of the MacMillan Law Library. The definitions in Black’s also include references to other resources, including West Key Numbers, legal encyclopedias and treatises.
A shorter alternate dictionary to Black’s is called Ballentine’s Legal Dictionary. Ballentine’s can be used as a quick reference and is available both in the reference section of the MacMillan Law Library and on Lexis.
While not a dictionary per se, students should also be aware of the West publication called Words and Phrases which is available on Westlaw. Words and Phrases compiles definitions of terms from both court cases and statues. How words are defined by other jurisdictions can sometimes be important in contentious and detailed litigation.
Law reviews are legal journals produced and edited by law students at law schools throughout the U.S. You can find articles published in law journals on Lexis and Westlaw, but there are many other places to search for them as well, including:
- Official web site for the journal
- HeinOnline's Law Journal Library
- Current Index to Legal Periodicals (HeinOnline)
- Google Scholar
- American Bar Association online Journal / Law Review Search
Law School Study Aids
Law School Study Aids are primarily for law students and they are useful to learn a new legal subject area. There are Hornbooks, Nutshells, Casebooks and other various outlines. Many types of these are on reserve and available at the Service Desk of the MacMillan Law Library.
Legal Encyclopedias are introductory guides that provide background information on your topic as well as important terms and basic cases. There are multiple case citations in the footnotes from cases throughout the United States. The two main legal encyclopedias are Corpus Juris Secundum (C.J.S.) and American Jurisprudence (AmJur), currently in its second edition. They are both broad and general in nature. C.J.S. has many citations, but not much text. It includes West topics and Key Numbers and is available on Westlaw. AmJur2d is also a West publication, but it is available on both Westlaw and Lexis. AmJur2d has more text, selected cases, more statutes and procedural rules, tables of statutes, rules and regulations as well as citations to ALR articles.
Legal news provides current information on legal issues and a heads-up on the big cases. Legal news can alert you to pending court decisions before they are available elsewhere and give you information on trial courts that aren’t officially reported. These news articles are often practice oriented and discuss the legal issues surrounding pending cases. You can read them to follow verdicts, local court opinions, dockets and calendars. They are informative, but sometimes include just names and dates rather than cases and statutes. They are very helpful to practitioners, but are of limited scholarly use.
The Fulton Daily Report is the main legal newspaper in Georgia and is available in print in the MacMillan Law Library and also on Lexis. Two other important news journals are the National Law Journal and the American Lawyer, both produced by American Lawyer Media and available on Lexis. Findlaw and Jurist also have legal news articles and Bloomberg BNA is a wonderful current awareness tool for attorneys. It has news and analysis by practice area and also provides access to U.S. Law Week.
Congressional news and bill tracking can be achieved by reading Roll Call, an online newsletter covering Capitol Hill, the National Journal and CQ Weekly. Good sources to follow court news include U.S. Law Week and the SCOTUSblog.