Primary vs. Secondary Sources

In legal research, there are essentially 2 types of sources:  Primary and Secondary.

Primary sources are law generated by a governmental body, e.g. statutes (generated by legislature) or cases (generated by judiciary).

Secondary sources are other resources which may be written by lawyers or judges or other legal professionals which comment on the law, categorize the law or otherwise interpret the primary sources.

Secondary sources are always persuasive authority.

Primary sources can be either mandatory (binding) or persuasive depending on several factors including the jurisdiction of the sources and  the jurisdiction of the the pending case, the facts of sources and the facts of the pending case, the hierarchy of authority, and the currency of the source.

The researcher is always looking for primary sources which are mandatory.  The researcher, however, may use secondary sources to locate the primary sources.


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