Legal encyclopedias are still worth exploring. Whether a case is mandatory or persuasive in your jurisdiction can sometimes be complex.  There are two national legal encyclopedias, American Jurisprudence 2d (Am.Jur) and Corpus Juris Secundum (C.J.S).  While there are differences between the two publications, they will both provide the researcher with a general overview of a legal question and also provide cites to major cases.  Within minutes you may have an answer to your question presented.

For example: If you are researching whether federal court decisions have precedential value in state courts on state issues, then why not consider consulting C.J.S either in print or online? By consulting the index under the term ‘federal courts’ and then the subheading ‘precedent and stare decisis,’ you will  come across a reference to both state  and federal court decisions as precedents in,’ Courts § 217.   In addition to a discussion of the issue, the section also contains numerous citations to federal and state court decisions on the issue.   The answer to this question: “State courts are not required to follow federal court decisions with regard to matters of state law, although they may be persuasive.”

Mark Kloempken & Tove Klovning