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 and legal databases

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 the Library's legal databases.

CanLII: Canadian Legal Information Institute
Canadian case law and statutes. Includes federal, provincial, and territorial material. Note: there is very limited secondary legal literature here, but this is growing. 

Lexis Advance QuickLaw Plus
Canadian court cases and tribunal decisions, current and point in time legislation (for selected jurisdictions), and commentary. 

Westlaw Next Canada
Canadian legislation, case law, and commentary. Contains the databases BestCase Library, CriminalSource, and LawSource.

Canadian federal government bills, including the text of various versions, press releases and backgrounders, legislative summaries from the Parliamentary Research Branch, speeches, votes, coming-into-force information.

Law and law-related research material, including legal journals, government documents, classic legal treatises, and world trials. Contains Canadian, American and international laws and agreements.


Artificial Intelligence - Legal Resources (University of Windsor Law Library)