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Secondary sources: Legal information resources

 Primary vs. secondary legal sources

The two main sources of Canadian law are legislation (aka acts or statutes) and case law (aka judgments or judicial decisions). These are considered primary sources in the legal context, and contain the force of law.

Secondary sources consist of scholarly journal articles, legal commentary and annotations, treatises, textbooks and books, encyclopedia entries, non-academic articles and other sources.

In legal research, secondary sources are often considered the best place to start researching a legal topic; they provide the invaluable interpretation and summarization of the vast body of primary sources.

Secondary sources vary in in their level of persuasiveness when applied in a legal setting.


Books, eBooks, videos, and other media located can be found using the Library Catalogue.

More secondary sources for legal research.

Journal articles

The How to Find Journal Articles guide provides an introduction to finding journal articles in the SFU Library. Can't find your legal journal? Double-check in HeinOnline.

Legal journal articles can be found in most of our subscription legal databases.


Top Resources


Canadian case law and statutes

Westlaw Next Canada

Access to BestCase, CriminalSource and LawSource. Contains former Criminal Spectrum content.

Lexis Advance QuickLaw

Canadian legal research sources.


Information about individual Canadian federal government bills.


HeinOnline includes more than 75 million pages of law and law-related research material stored digitally in a fully-searchable, image-based format.