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Legal research and writing

This guide provides an introduction to legal research and writing for law students.

Annotated statutes

This page introduces a special kind of secondary resource: annotated statutes.

The library has many of these in print and online.

About annotated statutes

Annotated statutes are volumes of statutes with accompanying commentary and case notes. Often they will include relevant regulations along with commentary.

The commentary usually is written by academics or specialist practitioners in a field relevant to that statute.

The case notes and commentary usually are written section by section.

Using annotated statutes

Although annotated statutes refer to legislation, they function as a secondary resource. They are useful for explaining how cases have interpreted different sections of a statute. 

Annotated statutes are regularly updated to incorporate new cases and legislative amendments. For this reason they are often published in the following formats:

  • softcover annual volumes
  • loose-leaf binders
  • electronic books or databases

Limitations of annotated statutes

An annotated statute is not updated in step with the actual statute itself. Any case notes included also cannot keep up with judicial interpretation of the statute – meaning an annotated statute cannot be assumed to be as current as the actual statute.

Likewise, the cases they cite cannot be relied on for the final word on judicial consideration of the statute.

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