American Law Reports: a.k.a ALR, a.k.a. “Already Done Legal Research”

American Law Reports (ALR) is an attorney written, multi-series publication with objective, in-depth analysis of your specific legal issue, together with a complete list of cases – in every available jurisdiction – that discusses that issue.

  • Quickly get up to speed in an unfamiliar area of law – every article delivers an impartial, in-depth analysis of your specific legal issue
  • Locate relevant caselaw in one easy step – at the end of every ALR article, you’ll find an exhaustive, comprehensive list of cases that discuss the topic; cases are organized by state, so you can pinpoint local authority fast. 
  • Determine which cases are controlling and understand why
  • Save yourself a great deal of time. You could have a case on point in New York and if there is an ALR article that cites to that case you will find cases, statutes and discussions in other jurisdictions- maybe even the one you need!

How are ALRs Organized?
A typical ALR annotation starts with the text of an entire appellate case and is followed by a discussion of the legal trend or doctrine that that case represents. It will have an article outline, table of cases, statutes, regulations and rules, and research references.

ALRs are published in multiple series set:  ALR 1st, ALR 2nd, ALR 3rd, ALR 4th, ALR 5th, ALR 6th

And the federal series:  ALR Fed 1st  & ALR fed 2nd

How do you Research in the ALRs?
Research using the ALR should begin with the index, (there is a set at the end of the series, with updates).  You may also find an ALR article as an annotation to a statute, regulation or case.  Each ALR article will have a summary of what is included in the article and a list of related ALR articles.  Make sure you review this to see if there is another article that may help your research.  You can also conduct a word search in ALR on Lexis and Westlaw.

How do you update the ALR section?
Since ALRs are updated frequently with the most current legal issues it is important to make sure that the section you are looking at is up to date.

In the books you can check the pocket part to see if the section has been superseded. There is also a “History Table” in the back of the ALR Index that will give you a list of updated annotations.

Online, Westlaw will give you a KeyCite flag letting you know if there is history or if it has been superseded. Lexis will give you the superseding section numbers but it will not give you the text of the superseded article.

You can also listen to or read a transcript of CALI”s LibTour on the ALR.