Use this approach when you're starting your search with just a legal concept or a few legal terms, but no citations.
What is a legal encyclopedia?
A legal encyclopedia provides researchers with a fairly broad overview of a legal subject. Legal encyclopedias are very similar to the general encyclopedias that you encountered when you were younger, such as Encyclopedia Brittanica. They are arranged alphabetically by legal topic, and each legal topic is discussed in a section that includes citations to related legal materials on your topic.
California's legal encyclopedia is called California Jurisprudence, 3d (abbreviated "Cal Jur 3d"), and it's published by the West Group. There are over 70 volumes in the set, and it's arranged alphabetically by legal topic. To help you find relevant sections, Cal Jur 3d has a subject index, a table of cases, and a table of statutes. The volumes are updated with both supplemental paperback volumes (usually shelved to the immediate right of the volume that they supplement) and pocket parts (located inside the back of each volume). You can find Cal Jur 3d in Heafey's California Collection on the library's first floor (Call Number = KFC80 C29).
How do I use California Jurisprudence 3d?
Civil procedure rules, See index heading FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE
This entry directs you to look up "Federal Rules of Civil Procedure" instead of "Civil Procedure Rules" to find relevant articles.
When you find a promising entry, you'll see citations to Cal Jur 3d articles and sections underneath the entry as well as topic subdivisions.
What if I want to find useful Cal. Jur. 3d articles online?
Westlaw's California Jurisprudence database (CAJUR) contains the full text of Cal Jur 3d. You can review the table of contents for every Cal Jur 3d article, by clicking on the "Table of Contents" link at the top right of the CAJUR search screen. If you need help, just ask a librarian.
What is a treatise?
Treatises are books that analyze and explain particular areas of the law. Treatises can consist of a single volume, but some treatises have multiple volumes. They're useful as a starting point for legal research because they contain an in-depth explanation of a legal topic as well as numerous citations to case law, statutes, law review articles, and other relevant sources. Generally, treatises contain more detailed discussions of legal topics than legal encyclopedias.
For more information on Witkin Treatises check out the research guide, How to Use Witkin Treatises.
Bernard Witkin's original one-volume treatise on California law has grown into a 32-volume set, consisting of these four titles:
You can find all four Witkin sets in Heafey's California Collection on the library's first floor. You won't find all four sets on the same shelf, so be sure to check the call number for each set or ask a librarian for assistance in locating the set you need.
How do I use Witkin treatises?
Find the subject index and look for your terms. There is a combined subject index that covers all of the contents of the four titles listed above. This combined index is a paperback volume found at the end of Witkin's Summary of California Law.
When you find a promising entry, you'll see references to the volume, Witkin title, chapter, and section number that you need. For example, an entry might appear like this:
3 Criminal Law, Punishment, §445
To find this item, you would look for Volume 3 of Witkin's Criminal Law, then find Section 445 in the chapter called "Punishment" within that volume. As with Cal Jur 3d, be sure to check the paperback supplement or pocket part for your volume to find out if your section has been updated since that volume was published!
What if I want to use Witkin's sets online?
WITKIN: All four sets in one database.
WITKIN: All four sets in one file
What are some other secondary resources that I might use to research my topic?
You can also use California Forms of Pleading and Practice (Call Number = KFC1010.A65C3).
This 56-volume set, published by Matthew Bender & Co., is both a treatise and a practice guide. It functions as a treatise because it provides thorough discussions of all California civil practice areas, including torts, business and commercial matters, real estate, public administrative law, and family law. Additionally, the set serves as a practice guide by providing forms and sample documents that attorneys can use to prepare documents for their clients.
How do I use California Forms of Pleading and Practice?
You'll find the two-volume subject index at the end of the set. Locate your topic search terms in the index, noting "see" references and heading subdivisions. When you find a relevant heading, note that it will list either chapter and page or chapter and section references. Chapters contain a synopsis, a scope note, legal background information, a research guide, and forms. You'll see citations to legal authority on that topic in the legal background and the research guide sections.
You can also find California Forms of Pleading and Practice on LexisNexis. The name of the LexisNexis file is CAFPAP.