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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Law and Legal Studies

Encyclopedias and dictionaries

Legal encyclopedias are secondary (and sometimes tertiary) sources that explain legal terms and concepts, legislation, and notable court cases. They are a useful starting point for research because they summarize the topic and often provide references to the most important statutes and cases. Legal encyclopedias can be general, or focused on a particular area of law.

Legal dictionaries briefly explain legal terms and concepts. and are useful when you are not clear on the meaning of a legal term, particularly due to the law's extensive use of Latin terminology. Legal dictionaries can be general, or focused on a particular area of law. Some legal dictionaries provide references to a term's use in legislation and court law, to show what the legislature and judiciary intended it to mean.

Legal encyclopedias

Legal encyclopedias can provide you with a summary of the law on your topic. 

UMass subscription databases

Books and e-books

Legal dictionaries

UMass subscription databases

Web links