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Zimmerman's Research Guide


American Law Reports (ALR)

American Law Reports (ALR) is a multi-series publication comprised of articles that focus on unsettled areas of the law (often a split between federal circuits or state courts). Each article discusses the issue in detail and provides extensive footnotes to leading judicial opinions. If you find an ALR citation on the issue you are researching, all you have to do is update the key cases -- by running them through Shepard's on Lexis or KeyCite on Westlaw -- and your case law research is pretty much done.

You can search for ALR articles on Westlaw (ALR). Lexis also has all the ALR articles (2NDARY;LEDALR) except for the ALR 1st series. If you have a complete cite, you can pull an article from Westlaw or West Find&Print using the sample format: "xx alr2d xxxx". On Lexis or Lexis Get & Print use the format "xx alr 2d xxx".

The print ALR volumes can be found in larger law libraries.

Some ALR articles, called "e-annotations," are available only online. E-annotations may be advance publications that will eventually be published in print. Others will remain electronic-only (e.g., because they are to large to publish in a volume). In either case, they are referenced in the print index.

For a more complete discussion of the ALR series, see Fundamentals of Legal Research (West).

Predecessor Publications: The American Law Reports series was preceded by publications from the Bancroft-Whitney Company and the Lawyers' Co-operative Publishing Company, both of which were acquired by the Thomson Corporation. The predecessor sets were:

  • American decisions, containing all the cases of general value and authority decided in the courts of the several states, from the earliest issue of the state reports [1760] to the year 1869 (Bancroft, 1878-1888);
  • American Reports (Bancroft-Whitney, 1869-1887);
  • American State Reports (Bancroft-Whitney, 1888-1911),
  • American and English Annotated Cases (Bancroft-Whitney, 1906-1918);
  • American Annotated Cases (Bancroft-Whitney, 1912-1962; also published as v. 22-40 of American and English Annotated Cases)
  • Lawyers' Reports Annotated (Lawyers Co-op, 1888-1906); and
  • Lawyers' Reports Annotated: New Series (Lawyers Co-operative, 1906-1918).

If you have a subscription, you can get all of these sets online through LLMC Digital. Search Worldcat to find libraries that still hold these sets in print. Lawyers' Reports Annotated (LRA) is available on Westlaw in the Rise of American Law Database for legal encyclopedias (ROAL-JUR); to pull up only LRA articles add "& TI(lawyers'-reports-annotated)" to the end of your search.

See Also
Law Reviews and Law Journals
State Laws, generally

For comments, questions and suggestions, email the author
Copyright 2015 Andrew Zimmerman