Other Sources of Legal Commentary and Analysis

Westlaw and Lexis contain a larger variety of legal commentary besides treatises and law review articles. Both cover legal encyclopedias, such as American Jurisprudence and Corpus Juris Secundum, and well as the hybrid called the American Law Reports. The newest kid on the block of legal research, Bloomberg Law.com, a fee-based database which has impressed its users with its menu-driven approach, collaboration features, and docket search functions, may become the sole repository of BNA products, a highly sophisticated set of newsletter-type of publication. Among them, US Law Week is a must for anybody interested in learning about the most recently litigated topics.

There are other more successful free-of charge repositories of secondary sources, such as FindLawLexisNexis Communities PortalSSRN, and Bepress. In addition, various individual universities have their own academic commons.

• FindLaw ProfessionalsLegal News and Legal Commentaries
FindLaw Professionals” present themselves as a “group of well-respected authorities in their legal practice areas.” While promoting Westlaw as the legal research tool to use, this site also provides some legal summaries advertised to help any “individual legal consumer” learn more about the legal system. Since this book was first published, the database has improved both its search capabilities and its content. Now, you can search for both legal analysis, called a law firm article or a legal news article, and a legal commentary. The latter seems to be a blog-like commentary, whose usefulness is mostly given by its currency.

• SSRN (now part of Ebsco): A Recipient of Legal Secondary Sources 
The Social Science Research Network, SSRN, available at ssrn.com, is another way to locate texts on current and obscure issues of law. SSRN is composed of a number of specialized research networks in social sciences, including law. The SSRN eLibrary consists of a Full Text and an Abstract Database.

The Legal Scholarship Network is directed by law faculty members Bernard Black and Ronald Gilson and offers unique access to many academic papers.

• Bepress
The first digital commons repository, since 1999, BePress remains a pioneer in free access to academic papers.

  • Other academic commons

Today most academic institutions encourage their faculty to publish their work in a manner freely accessible. For example, the latest edition of Introduction to U.S. Law and Legal Research (Bacilio Mendez, II digital editor, 2011) is available from Columbia University’s Academic Commons.

Finally, remember that more and more members of the academe make their published law review articles available from their own web sites. Additionally, there are numerous web logs where you can find useful information on a current legal topic, so even simple searches may help you with a reliable research start as long as you can discern the repository of the information you receive. Usually, .gov and .edu are the most reliable and authoritative repositories of legal information.