As you conduct your research, you may come across an unfamiliar term or phrase.
Black's Law Dictionary
Black's Law Dictionary is a useful tool for learning the meaning of unfamiliar legal terms. Definition entries in Black's often include alternate terms that help you conduct later research for primary resources, as well as cross-references to other dictionary entries that may be relevant. Black's Law Dictionary is available in print and on Westlaw.
For example, while researching an employment law issue, you read that South Carolina is an employment at-will state. You look that phrase up in Black's law Dictionary and learn that employment at will means that if an employee does not have a contract, that employee may be terminated by her employer without cause.
Legal dictionaries and glossaries are also available on the Internet for free. Examples include Nolo’s Free Dictionary of Terms and Legal Definitions and LAW.COM. See our page on Legal Research Terms for a glossary of legal research terms and links to other online legal dictionaries.
Certain legal dictionaries are available online via subscription to databases such as Westlaw and Lexis Advance. South Carolina colleges and universities and public libraries may provide access to popular legal dictionaries via subscription to public access versions of Westlaw or NexisUni.
The two legal encyclopedias most widely used by lawyers are American Jurisprudence (Am. Jur.) and Corpus Juris Secundum (C.J.S.). State-specific legal encyclopedias such as South Carolina Jurisprudence explain the law by topic as applied in that state. These legal encyclopedias are usually found in law libraries. They contain extensive footnotes to the law and secondary sources and are updated annually by pocket parts.
Legal encyclopedias written for non-lawyers, such as West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, Gale Encyclopedia of Everyday Law, and Nolo’s Encyclopedia of Everyday Law are available in public and academic libraries, as well as law libraries.
Certain legal encyclopedias are available online via subscription to databases such as Westlaw and Lexis Advance. South Carolina colleges and universities and public libraries may provide access to national and state legal encyclopedias via subscription to public access versions of Westlaw or NexisUni.