American Law Reports (ALR)

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American Law Reports(ALR)

American Law Reports (A.L.R.) are a series of reporters begun in 1919 which contain articles, usually referred to as “Annotations “(in fact, they’re detailed law review articles) on over 27,000 different Legal topics , written by practicing lawyers. Each article discusses the issue in detail and provides extensive citations to relevant judicial opinions (cases).

The strength of A.L.R. is its systematic presentation of the “state of the law”across the jurisdictions on a particular issue. The A.L.R. format is characterized by some researchers as a secondary source and by others as a case-finding tool. In fact, it has elements of both resources and can be extremely useful in both providing a context for a legal issue and providing citations to primary authorities.

It does not focus on legal analysis or discussion of policy issues. It is not considered a scholarly publication and would not be cited in a piece of legal writing.

What is an ALR annotation?

Each ALR annotation addresses a single legal issue. The author discusses the most important cases and state or federal statutes governing that issue, and also points you to places where the issue is discussed in other research and practice sources, such as American Jurisprudence, Corpus Juris Secundum , L.Ed’s Federal Procedure, Am Jur Proof of Facts, Am Jur Pleading and Practice Forms, and the L.Ed and ALR Digests. In addition, Annotations will usually include a list of law review articles on the topic, and may even give the reader West Digest key numbers and sample Westlaw and Lexis search queries, to help the reader find more cases. Finally, the annotation will include a list of other, related annotations, which may help the reader find one that is even more relevant to your issue.

The state and federal series of A.L.R. are available online through Westlaw (ALR database). Because print indexing is quite good, it may be easier to locate helpful annotations in print than online. Additionally, the online format of A.L.R. can be difficult to browse and this difficulty extends to the version printed from Westlaw.

Predecessor Publications

The American Law Reports series was preceded by publications from the Bancroft-Whitney Company and the Lawyers’ Co-operative Publishing Company, both of which were acquired by the Thomson Corporation. The predecessor sets were:

  • American decisions, containing all the cases of general value and authority decided in the courts of the several states, from the earliest issue of the state reports [1760] to the year 1869 (Bancroft, 1878-1888);
  • American Reports (Bancroft-Whitney, 1869-1887);
  • American State Reports (Bancroft-Whitney, 1888-1911),
  • American and English Annotated Cases (Bancroft-Whitney, 1906-1918);
  • American Annotated Cases (Bancroft-Whitney, 1912-1962; also published as v. 22-40 of American and English Annotated Cases);
  • Lawyers’ Reports Annotated (Lawyers Co-op, 1888-1906); and
  • Lawyers’ Reports Annotated: New Series (Lawyers Co-operative, 1906-1918).

Conclusion

Notes

See Also

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Author: international

References and Further Reading

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