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Legal Research Basics: Secondary Sources: Restatements & Treatises

General characteristics of major secondary sources in legal research

Locating Treatises & Restatements

In print - treatises and restatements for a variety of subjects can be found in several locations through the Law Library, either in the Reference shelving beyond the Circulation Desk or in the stacks on the second and third floors.

Electronically - Although predominantly found in the print domain, Treatises and Restatements are beginning to find their way into electronic databases.  You can search for treatises and restatements in the secondary sources portions of Westlaw, Lexis Advance, and Bloomberg Law.


What is it?

A legal treatise is typically a multi-volume set of books that provides an in-depth analysis of a legal subject.  Treatises tend to be highly authoritative, as they are often written by influential legal scholars.  There are both subject-based and procedural legal treatises.

To locate a treatise on a specific subject, you may want to check out Georgetown's Treatise Finder, a subject-based finding aid for treatises.


  • Authoritative - written by experts
  • Exhaustive analysis
  • Subject- and procedure-based treatises available
  • Excellent resource for answering particular questions about a legal subject or legal procedure


What is it?

Created by the American Law Institute, the Restatements are essentially a set of rules promulgated by collecting laws as applied across the country.  Each Restatement is drafted by a renowned legal scholar and then goes through a series of reviews by a panel of experts, the ALI Council, the public, and all members of the ALI.  Like uniform laws, states can choose whether to adopt the Restatements.  They are often relied upon by courts, and are the most citable of the secondary sources in legal research.  A Restatement consists of the rule itself, a thorough commentary, illustrations, and more recently reporter's notes (history of the rule).  Restatements can be found electronically in HeinOnline's American Law Institute Library.


  • Highly citable and authoritative
  • Written by a renowned legal expert and heavily reviewed
  • Not the best place to start your research, but a good resource for finding the most respected rule in an area of law
  • Covers many areas of law, but not all