Legal Encyclopedias

The Brooklyn Law School Library has legal encylcopedias for incoming law students who are unfamiliar with an area of law (as well as returning students who need a refresher). Legal encyclopedias are useful to look for a summary of an area of law or cases on a particular topic. Legal excyclopedias include:

  • Corpus Juris Secundum – a national legal encyclopedia covering all state and federal legal topics where general rules of law are summarized and limitations/exceptions to the rules are explained
  • American Jurisprudence 2d – a modern comprehensive text statement of both state and federal law, including recent developments
  • American Law Reports – (1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th & Fed. Series) – a multi-series set that provides summaries of areas of law along with how that area of law is interpreted in state and federal courts
  • New York Jurisprudence – a state legal encyclopedia with background and explanations of NY legal topics and citations to primary law (Not every state has a legal encyclopedia.)

Corpus Juris Secundum (CJS), a multi-volume legal encyclopedia, comes in both print and electronic versions. The print version, located in the library’s National Reading Room on the second floor, has over 400 separate topics covering state and federal legal topics. General rules of law are summarized in “Black Letter” headings with explanations in the text. CJS is organized by Topic of Law.

Each topic has:

  • A summary or general table of contents, with a detailed table of contents
  • The first part of each section has a scope or overview of that section. The overview may contain cross references and other topics to review.
  • A black letter summary or overview of the rule of law (this will appear in bold lettering). The detailed overview explains the precedent and rationale for that law and provides citations to cases, statutes and definitions of the law.
  • There is also a research reference section that refers to other publications, such as, topic and key numbers, American Law Reports, American Jurisprudence (AMJUR) and other publications.

At the end of the hard bound topic books, CJS has several soft cover books that contain:

  • The general index for all subjects of the law (and a general index update)
  • A general table of laws and rules that show where federal statutes, rules, regulations and uniform laws (including the restatements) are cited in the CJS and help find CJS articles discussing the statutes, rules and regulations
  • A Table of Cases to use when you have a case name or citation and would like to find a CJS article that discusses this case and where to find references to other cases, statutes and regulations

It is helpful to start with the general index that will lead the specific topics and browse through the general and detailed index for that topic to find the black letter law that you want to review. Make sure to update by using the pocket parts. In addition to the print version in the library, CJS is available on Westlaw (Database identifier CJS). The library catalog record links to the Westlaw database.