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LRAW Research Spring 2023

Legal Encyclopedias

Legal encyclopedias

  • are useful tools for quickly getting necessary background to understand a legal topic
  • give citations to primary authorities (e.g., cases, statutes and regulations) and other sources related to that topic
  • do not provide opinion or commentary on the law, but report on the general state of the law
  • are arranged by topics and subdivided by sections on more specific issues within each topic

There are different types of legal encyclopedias:

  • National: American Jurisprudence 2d (Am. Jur.) and Corpus Juris Secundum (C.J.S.)
  • State-specific: South Carolina Jurisprudence
  • Topic specific: Encyclopedia of Education Law

American Jurisprudence (Am. Jur.) 2d - legal encyclopedia


Corpus Juris Secundum (CJS) legal encyclopedia.South Carolina Jurisprudence legal encyclopedia.


American Jurisprudence 2d (Am. Jur.) is available in print, on Westlaw, and on Lexis.

Corpus Juris Secundum (C.J.S.), the other national legal encyclopedia, is available in print and on Westlaw.

South Carolina Jurisprudence is our state-specific encyclopedia, available in print and on Westlaw. State encyclopedias are especially helpful because they include authorities on your legal issue from a particular jurisdiction.

Bound volumes of each legal encyclopedia are revised as needed. Annual cumulative pocket parts supplement each volume with new information on the state of the law and new research references until a new hardbound volume is published

Each legal encyclopedia includes separate volumes shelved toward the end, containing an index and tables. See Legal Encyclopedias in Print below for how to use the index.

Citing Legal Encyclopedias

Bluebook Rules B15.1 and 15.8 describe how to cite to legal encyclopedias.  Legal encyclopedia citations consist of five parts:

  1. The volume number of the encyclopedia where your topic is found;
  2. The name of the encyclopedia (Am. Jur. 2d or C.J.S. or S.C. Jur.);
  3. The main topic underlined or italicized (as opposed to the section heading where you found your information);
  4. The section number where your information was found; and
  5. The publication year of the print encyclopedia (Note that you must check the main volume and supplement. You will cite to the annual supplement only if there is new text for that section found in the supplement.  If there are only new case references, cite to the main volume only.)

For example, section 322 on Attractiveness to Children, General Requirements, found under the topic Premises Liability in volume 62 of the print American Jurisprudence 2d, would be cited as:

62 Am. Jur. 2d  Premises Liability § 322 (2022).

Also, Rule 15.9 allows you to cite to an electronic database using its updated date:

62 Am. Jur. 2d  Premises Liability § 322, Westlaw (database updated May 2022).

Using Legal Encyclopedias on Westlaw

Because West publishes the print versions of American Jurisprudence (Am. Jur), Corpus Juris Secundum (C.J.S.), and South Carolina Jurisprudence, you can use all three of these encyclopedias in Westlaw.

There are two ways to use legal encyclopedias on Westlaw: keyword search or index.

Keyword Search

If you do not want to use the index, from the homepage in Westlaw, type the name or abbreviation of the encyclopedia into the search bar, then click on the title in the dropdown.

screenshot - CJS typed in search bar - dropdown shows a list of Search Suggestions, then under Content Pages, Corpus Juris Secundum is highlighted

Now that the search bar at the top of the page shows the name of the encyclopedia on the left, you can use that search bar to keyword search the text of the entire encyclopedia.

searchbar says Corpus Juris Secundum, and "attractive nuisance doctrine" is typed in

You can search within results for particular terms. After you click “Continue” and click “Apply,” your additional search terms are highlighted in purple.

Search within results - "children" is typed. Continue button. Apply button.

search results 1. § 597. Generally ("attractive nuisance doctrine" highlighted yellow, and "child" highlighted purple). 2. § 578. Persons entitled to invoke doctrine; age and capacity. same highlighting


To search legal encyclopedias using an index in Westlaw, select Secondary Sources from the homepage.

screenshot: Content types - Cases - Trial Court Orders - Statutes & Court Rules - Secondary Sources

On the left, under Secondary Sources By Type, select Jurisprudence & Encyclopedias

Screenshot: Secondary Sources - By Type - American Law Reports - CLE & Seminar Materials - Jurisprudence & Encyclopedias

​Westlaw provides access to both national legal encyclopedias: American Jurisprudence 2d, or Am. Jur.; and Corpus Juris Secundum, or CJS. State-specific encyclopedias, including South Carolina Jurisprudence, are also here. Click on the title you wish to search.

Corpus Juris Secundum

To access the index, click the link under Tools & Resources on the right. 

screenshot - Tools & Resources - Corpus Juris Secondum Index

Then, select Index Contents

screenshot - INDEX CONTENTS

From there, you can use the search bar at the top of the page, or use control-F or command-F to browse for index terms. 

screenshot - search bar "Search Corpus Juris Secundum Index" and list of terms starting AB INITIO ABANDONMENT ABATEMENT

Select the index entry.


From the results list of index terms or subtopics, choose the link for the encyclopedia topic and section that appears most relevant.

To read the encyclopedia entry, you may need to scroll down. To view related sections within that topic, use the Table of Contents on the left.

§ 555 of CJS on Westlaw - Attractiveness to children under attractive nuisance doctrine

Using Legal Encyclopedias on Lexis

Lexis provides access to the national encyclopedia American Jurisprudence only. You can browse or search all or individual topics of American Jurisprudence in Lexis, but it does not include an index.

To access Am. Jur. in Lexis, select Secondary Materials from the Content tab of the Explore section of the homepage.


Click on American Jurisprudence 2d (AMJUR).


You can enter terms in the search box at the top, browse the Table of Contents, or use the Advanced Search link to access a template that will help you construct your search.

screenshot of Advanced Search above search bar

Using Advanced Search, if you type attractive nuisance doctrine in the Exactly this phrase box and choose Add, the terms “attractive nuisance doctrine” are automatically inserted with quotation marks in the search box above.

From the results page, select the link to the encyclopedia section that appears most relevant.

1st result - 62 Am Jur 2d Premises Liability § 295

To view related sections within the Premises Liability topic, use the Table of Contents at the left, or select a broader topic or narrower subtopic from the links above the encyclopedia entry.


Free Online Legal Encyclopedias

Free online legal encyclopedias tend to be less comprehensive than the print and electronic database versions, but can help you learn about a legal topic when those options are  not available.

For example, Cornell's Legal Information Institute publishes Wex, a joint dictionary-encyclopedia that you can search or browse alphabetically.

Entry in Cornell's Wex dictionary-encyclopedia for Attractive Nuisance Doctrine. Follow link provided to go to page online.

Legal Encyclopedias in Print

All print legal encyclopedias include indexes to research entries by subject.

For example, to find a relevant encyclopedia entry in Am Jur 2d on the attractive nuisance doctrine, select the A volume of the Am. Jur. 2d General Index. The topic Attractive Nuisances has many subtopics.  Browsing them to find one relevant to children, you find the entry for "Attractiveness to children,"  which directs you to the topic Premises, sections 319 to 326

       Listing in the Index to Am. Jur. 2d under Attractive Nuisances for Attractiveness to children, Premises section 319 to 326.


Premises Liability section 322 in Am. Jur. 2d. Use link provided to retrieve in Westlaw Edge.



The volumes of Am. Jur. 2d are organized alphabetically. You choose volume number 62 marked Postal Service to Premises Liability §§ 1-465. You find Premises Liability section 322 titled "Foreseeability of attractiveness to children for purposes of the application of attractive nuisance rules."

The Research References for this section include the West topic Negligence, key numbers 1172 and 1175, which can help you find cases on the topic.

Note also the cases provided in the footnote for section 322.