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MLIC Floor Guide to Materials: ALRs

This guide describes basic use of specific sets of books in the MLIC, and is best used in conjunction with a mobile phone and the QR Codes you will find near the sets. If you are accessing this guide via the MLIC's app, just select a floor and book set.

American Law Reports (A.L.R.s)

American Law Reports (A.L.R.) are a set of books in 7 series (A.L.R. 1st through 6th, plus A.L.R. Federal), which contain in-depth articles (called "annotations") on specific legal issues.  A.L.R.s are a secondary source - they point you to primary law on your topic, hopefully in your jurisdiction. The articles are written to be more practice oriented than scholarly, and were usually fairly "cutting edge" when first published.  A.L.R.s are a good place to begin your research if you are starting from scratch.

Finding a Relevant A.L.R.

To find a relevant annotation look to the end of this set for a series of books titled "A.L.R. Index".  This index will guide you to annotations in A.L.R. series 3rd through 6th, plus the Federal A.L.R.s. Use terms which describe your issue (who/what/how) to find citations to specific annotations.

( A.L.R. 2nd and 1st are older and use a different finding method, please see a reference librarian for help using these older materials.)

The citation format the index uses will be in the form

Title [volume] A.L.R.[third through 6th or federal] page number

or for example:

Landlord's liability for injury or death due to defects in areas of building (other than stairways) used in common by tenants, 65 A.L.R.3rd 14

..would mean, "Volume 65 of the A.L.R.3rd, page 14"

Using an A.L.R.

Most A.L.R.s are laid out in a standard format to help the user quickly find information:

  • Outline - like a table of contents for this annotation.
  • Table of Jurisdiction - list of states whose cases have been discussed in this annotation, and which section of the annotation in which you will find them.
  • Library References - other research materials in the library (mainly West Publishing resources) which might have relevant information.
  • Related Matters - Citations to annotations on similar topics. These can be very useful. A valid research strategy can be to find an annotation which is close to your topic, then use Related Matters to find one exactly on your topic.
  • Annotation itself
  • Pocket Part - A.L.R.s in print are updated by the use of pamphlets inserted into the back of the book.  Find your annotation in the pamphlet by looking at the top of the page- though pagination is different in the pocket parts, the annotations are in the same order in which they are found in the main volume. Also note there is a phone number printed on the pocket part which you can call to find later cases (please place your call in one of the designated cellphone areas in the MLIC!).

Citing to the A.L.R.

Remember, annotations are not primary authority.  But if you have to cite to one, the general format is:

Allan E. Korpela, Annotation, Landlord's liability for injury or death due to defects in areas of building (other than stairways) used in common by tenants, 65 A.L.R.3rd 14 (1975).

Note - the date you list is the original publication date of the annotation, not the date of the pocket part. 

Please consult your A.L.W.D. or Bluebook for more exact citation rules.