Corpus Juris Secundum (C.J.S.) is a multivolume legal encyclopedia offering broad overviews of state and federal legal topics. This is an excellent secondary source for gathering background information; however, it is unlikely you will ever cite to a legal encyclopedia. Rather, use the available case citations and West Topic and Key Number references to locate primary materials within your jurisdiction.
To find a relevant encyclopedia article look at the end of this set for the multivolume softcover “2010 General Index.” Construct a list of terms identifying your legal issue and then consult the index. The index is organized alphabetically by broad topic (for example, Aliens and Bankruptcy) and then breaks down further into narrower topics.
Once you have located the applicable C.J.S. volume, you will see article entries for the specific legal topics. In C.J.S. these entries are known as "titles" and follow this format:
· Scope - Details the breadth of coverage of the title.
· Treated Elsewhere – References other C.J.S. topics and titles that may be relevant and are not included within the article.
· Outline – Like a table of contents for this title.
· § 1 – The first section of the title. A summary of the law (“black letter law”) will be laid out in bold print, followed by a more detailed explanation that includes footnote references to state and federal cases. Also note the useful West Topic and Key Number reference directly after the black letter law. Each subsequent section of the title is laid out in similar fashion.
At the back of each bound volume is a Cumulative Annual Pocket Part. If there are any changes to your topic they will be found here, organized alphabetically by title in the same manner as the bound volume.
NOTE: As of 2010 we are no longer updating C.J.S. -- to find the most recent information search Westlaw or use the American Jurisprudence 2d encyclopedia.