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LRAW Research Spring 2025

Legal Encyclopedias

Legal encyclopedias

  • are useful tools for quickly getting necessary background to understand a legal topic
  • give citations to authoritative cases and statutes to help researchers start on solid ground
  • 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

Example: The National Park Service claims that the attractive nuisance doctrine cannot apply to allow recovery because it was the sledding hill, not the wire, that attracted the child onto the property. . . .


The encyclopedia entry below states that "the attractive nuisance doctrine is applicable" when a child is attracted by "an artificial condition on the land." This is a bit more detail than the dictionary gave us. The additional detail helps us understand the National Park Service's argument, if we think the hill is natural, and the wire is artificial.

§ 555. Attractiveness to children under attractive nuisance doctrine Topic Summary | References | Correlation Table West's Key Number Digest West's Key Number Digest, NegligenceKey Number Symbol​1172 to 1178 The attractive nuisance doctrine is applicable to determine the liability of the owner or possessor of land for physical harm or injury to a child when the dangerous instrumentality or condition involved is attractive to children. Generally, the attractive nuisance doctrine is applicable to determine the liability of the owner or possessor of land for physical harm or injury to a child caused by an artificial condition on the land, when the elements for recovery are met,1 Footnotes 1 § 549. Overview of elements of attractive nuisance doctrine on liability for child injury. 2 U.S.—McCracken v. Ford Motor Co., 588 F. Supp. 2d 635 (E.D. Pa. 2008).

This C.J.S. encyclopedia section on Westlaw also helps the researcher by providing:

  1. A topic and key numbers, to help guide a search for case law
  2. A link to the C.J.S. section that covers the elements of the attractive nuisance doctrine
  3. Links to case law in the footnotes. Some of these cases may be helpful starting points for research. Browsing the footnotes to look for cases from the relevant jurisdiction may also be a helpful approach.

National and State Encyclopedias

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.

A national encyclopedia does not always cite to case law from every state on every topic in its footnotes. If courts are split in their treatment of a topic, a national encyclopedia might not be detailed enough to provide clarity on each and every state's approach. An ALR annotation or a 50-state survey will be more thorough.

A state encyclopedia can be helpful because it always cites authorities relied on by that state's courts.

South Carolina Jurisprudence is our state-specific encyclopedia, available in print and on Westlaw.

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

To search for an encyclopedia by keyword:

From the homepage in Westlaw, type the name or abbreviation of the encyclopedia into the search bar, then click on the title under Content Pages.

cjs in search bar, Corpus Juris Secundum under Content Pages

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   magnifying glass to the right of search bar - Search Corpus Juris Secundum

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

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.

GET STARTED: Cases Statutes 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 Am. Jur., CJSSouth Carolina Jurisprudence, and more encyclopedias under Jurisprudence & Encyclopedias. 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. 


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, but not CJS or South Carolina Jurisprudence. 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.

LII > Wex > attractive nuisance doctrine Attractive nuisance is a dangerous condition on a landowner's property that may particularly attract children onto the land and pose a risk to their safety. In tort law, the attractive-nuisance doctrine imposes a duty on property owners to treat trespassing children the same as an invitee, and as a result, must exercise reasonable care to eliminate potential dangers or provide adequate warning. As the Supreme Court of Texas has stated, the rationale behind the doctrine is that a device of unusually attractive nature may be "especially alluring to children of tender years" thereby impliedly inviting children to come upon the premise, and by such invitation, the children should be considered invitees instead of trespassers. Furthermore, because the doctrine may impose a substantial burden on property owners, it is generally narrowly construed to not include common or ordinary objects like walls, fences, or gates.

Citing Legal Encyclopedias

Citing Encyclopedias under Bluebook Rules B15.1 and 15.8: 

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 (2014).

38 C.J.S. Gaming § 166 (2008).

23 S.C. Jur. Public Nuisance § 3 (1994).

Citing Legal Encyclopedias under Bluebook Rule 15.9 

Instead of the date of the encyclopedia in print, Rule 15.9 allows you to use the date that a database was last updated in your citation:

62 Am. Jur. 2d  Premises Liability § 322, Westlaw (database updated November 2023).

November 2022 Update

Other examples:

38 C.J.S. Gaming § 166, Westlaw (database updated September 2023).

23 S.C. Jur. Public Nuisance § 3, Westlaw (database updated May 2023).

Citation Tips:
The italicized topic cited is the main topic of the individual section you’re citing to, not the individual section title. For example, the main topic of a section would be Drugs and Controlled Substances (cite this topic), while the individual § 187’s title might be Defenses; Exemptions from Criminal Liability
Include a print encyclopedia’s copyright date, unless there is further commentary in the supplement. Then you would cite to the main volume AND the supplement.  If the materials found in the supplement are just research references, then cite to the main volume only.