Law Research Guide: American Law Reports

Last Updated: Oct. 1, 2014. AJB

ALR or American Law Reports (Core A Collection) is a compilation of essays called annotations on specific points of law. The first part of each volume of annotations has a subject index to the annotations in that volume as well as a table of contents. Each annotation discusses one prominent case on a specific point and cites other relevant cases. The case is reproduced as well as the essays. Older annotations have the text of the illustrated case with it in the volume, but more recent volumes have the text of illustrated cases printed at the end of each volume.

These annotations are published in eight series. Each series is defined by the period of time of original publication beginning towards the first of the last century, but each annotation is updated to the current year. The series are One through Six and Federal [1st] and 2nd. The Federal series began being published during the original publication of the Third Series. The Federal Series contains annotations that deal exclusively with federal issues. The Federal 2nd Series has annotations that deal with international law while their contemporary volumes in the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth series deal with state issues. The First and Second and some of the Third Series deal with state and federal law. Originally published by Bancroft Whitney, ALR is now published by the West Publishing Company.

 Examples of Annotations

  • Richard E. Kaye, Annotation, Internet Web Site Activities of Nonresident Person or Corporation as Conferring Personal Jurisdiction Under Long-Arm Statutes and Due Process Clause, 81 A.L.R. 5th 1 (2000).
  • Tammy Hinshaw, Annotation, Criminal Prosecution Under Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 USCS sects. 1531-1543), 128 A.L.R. Fed. 271 (1995).

 Parts of an Annotation

  1. Outline of the Article → gives an overview of topics addressed with corresponding sections of the article.
  2. Total Client-Service → gives references to other secondary materials such as legal encyclopedias and law review articles.
  3. References to West Products → recent volumes include sample Westlaw searches and relevant West topic and key numbers to use when using the Wrest sources that also use this system.
  4. Index → Indexes the article or annotation by narrow terms.
  5. Jurisdictional Table of Cited Statutes and Cases → cites statutes and cases relevant to the article.  Federal sources are listed first (even in the 4th, 5th, and 6th series).  An alphabetical arrangement by state follows for those states that the editors feel have statutes and cases that are relevant to the annotation.f
  6. The Annotation Itself → the annotations begin with a description of the scope of the annotation being read and references to other relevant ALR annotations.

 Updating Annotations In ALR

First Series:  Different time period series of the hardcopy, ALR Bluebook Supplemental Decisions is arranged by volume and page to give relevant decisions that were published after the volumes were published.  The paper bound volume of this index supplements and cites even more recent relevant decisions.

Second Series:  Later Case Service is a digest of decisions that pertain to the annotations in ALR 2d. and were published after the original annotations were published.  These decisions are listed in order of volume then the first page of the annotations.  Each bound volume is supplemented with annual pocket parts through the current year.

Third, Fourth, Fifth, & Sixth Series and the Federal (First) and Second Series:  Each volume is updated with an annual pocket part.

 Digest of ALR Annotations

West's ALR Digest of Decisions and Annotations with Research: this digest is published in hard copy with annual pocket part for each volume.  The digests are arranged by broad topic and further subdivided by concept number.  It uses the West Digest system to classify annotations. It includes all series.

 Indexes To ALR

  • Complete Word Index of Annotations in American Law Reports in Four Volumes (Deskbook): Indexes the first series.  Very similar to West's Descriptive Word Indexes, but arranged in separate sections by groups of volume numbers.  Each group has an index of "Words and Phrases," which is in alphabetical order as if "words and phrases" were being indexed.
  • ALR Index: Covers all series. Index by ALR topics that gives the titles of relevant annotations. Each volume (with pocket parts), has an Annotation History Table for the complete set that indicates which annotations have been superseded or supplemented with subsequent annotations at the end of each volume. The citations to the new annotations are given. The final volume and its pocket part also include a tables of citations: United States Code Annotated, Code of Federal Regulations, Federal Court Rules and State Statutes and Constitutions. It also includes annotations found in United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers’ Edition.
  • ALR Quick Indexes: There are three separate Quick Indexes for ALR. There is one for the First Series. Then, there is an annual Quick Index for ALR 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and there is one for the Federal (1st) and 2nd Series. These index the annotations in these series with narrow terms that give the titles and ALR citations to relevant annotations. For deeper coverage see the ALR Index.
  • ALR 5th and 6th Tables: An index to cases cited in the 5th and 6th series that gives official citations as well as the citation to annotations that cite them.
  • ALR Federal Tables: An annual four volume paperback set which includes an alphabetical list of Cases and Statutes Cited in ALR Federal (First Series) and Second Series with reference to the annotation in which these cases are cited.

 Lexis & Westlaw

Westlaw gives the full text of all ALR annotations as well as the subject index of the hardcopy that notes the words of the Westlaw search. Lexis has all but the first series.

 Other Research Guides

  • Steven M. Barkan, Roy M. Mersky, and Donald J. Dunn, Fundamentals of Legal Research, 9th ed., 327-342, Foundation Press, 2009. Reference & Reserve Collections, KF240.J3 2009.
  • American Law Reports, Heafey Law Library, Santa Clara Law [University], Jan. 11, 2008.
  • CALI (Computer Assisted Legal Instruction): CALI Lessons Home > Legal Research > American Law Reports. Located on the Library Subscription Database list.

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QUICKLINKS

Training
Library Hours
Library Staff
Ask a Librarian

ACCESSING DATABASES FROM OFF-CAMPUS OR USING WIRELESS
Instructions: Video  |  Text

HELPFUL PHONE NUMBERS

Library Reference: 305-284-3585
Library Circulation: 305-284-3563
Automated Operator: 305-284-2250
Copy Center: 305-284-3272
Computer Help Desk: 305-284-5297

 

QUOTE
"Perhaps the two most valuable and satisfactory products of American civilization are the librarian on the one hand and the cocktail in the other."
- Louis Stanley Jast, Librarian