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Use the ALR to find primary sources in an area of law.
Last Updated: Sep 17, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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CALI Lesson on ALR

  • CALI Lesson on ALR
    Select the American Law Reports (ALR) lesson under Lessons--> 1L - First Year Lesson Topics-->Legal Research.

Publishing History

In publication since 1919, each series contains the following coverage:

ALR: 1919 through 1948

ALR 2d: 1948 through 1965

ALR 3d: 1965 through 1980

ALR 4th: 1980 through 1992

ALR 5th: 1992 through 2004

ALR 6th: 2004 -

ALR Fed: 1969 through 2005

ALR Fed 2d: 2005 -


What Is the ALR? Why Use It? Where Do I Find It?

American Law Reports (ALR): What & Why

American Law Reports (ALR) articles, often a bit confusingly referred to as "annotations", provide in-depth coverage of legal issues. particularly in areas of law where there are differences between jurisdictions in those areas.  ALR annotations outline differences in the way the law is applied across jurisdictions. 

The annotations themselves are articles about a specific area of law that summarize the area, as well as provide in-depth treatment of the particular legal issue. ALR annotations also explain why a particular case is so important, and why there are jurisdictional splits. In addition, annotations offer views from both sides of the case, as well as citations to relevant cases from all jurisdictions.

ALR annotations are very useful when you know little about an area of law, when you want to find cases on a topic, or when want to know how different jurisdictions treat a particular issue.  If you find an ALR annotation that is directly in point, then your research may nearly be complete.  The annotations also provide references to relevant statutes, regulations, and other secondary sources, such as law review articles, treatise materials, forms, and West's Key Numbers.

The best use of ALR is to point you to primary authority.

Where To Find ALR

In The Law Library

ALR 1st through 6th Series, ALR Fed, and ALR Fed 2d are available in print in the Reading Room on the first floor of the law library, in the shelving area on the far right side of the room.The ALR Index is in print in the Reading Room on the first floor of the law library in that area.


Lexis provides access to the full text of ALR annotations from the 2nd through 6th series, ALR Fed, and ALR Fed 2d.


Westlaw provides access to the full text of all ALR annotations, except for ALR International. Westlaw also provides access to the ALR Index, to West's ALR Digest, and to electronic annotations that are not available in print.



The adaptor of this guide gratefully acknowledges the following individual for granting permission to adapt her LibGuide for the ALR:

Michele Thomas, J.D., M.A., M.L.I.S.
Assistant Professor of Law Librarianship
Reference & Catalog Librarian

University of Arkansas at Little Rock | Bowen School of Law Library

Reference & Government Documents Librarian

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Kevin Shelton
Contact Info
Kevin Shelton l Reference & Government Documents Librarian
Law Library l 122 Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY 11549
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ALR on the Shelf


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