The two major national encyclopedias are American Jurisprudence 2nd (AmJur2d) (Law Reference Stacks - Call # KF 154 .A54 2d) and Corpus Juris Secundum (CJS). Both are published by Thomson/West. Topics are organized alphabetically (similar to a general encyclopedia) within the 200 or so volumes that make up each set. Both encyclopedias contain cross-referencing to other West research tools such as topics and key numbers, and sample computer searches.
Both sets are extensively indexed in their paper versions. They are updated with yearly pocket parts, although the federal tax volumes are completely rewritten and replaced yearly to reflect the current status of tax law. AmJur2d includes a New Topics loose-leaf volume to add breaking areas of law to the set. These are added to bound volumes at the time the appropriate volume is revised and replaced.
As suggested by their names, these are second editions of the sets. Most topics in the first editions have been revised, updated, and replaced by their second edition counterparts. Many law libraries tend to have sets of both the first and second editions. There are times when early cases may refer to materials in these sets. There are also a few obscure topics in American Jurisprudence that were not carried over to the second edition. By and large, however, there is little need for the first edition of each set for contemporary legal research.
There are slightly different editorial styles between the two sets. CJS attempts to cite every possible authority it can find for a legal proposition, while AmJur 2d is a bit more selective. The writing style of AmJur2d is a bit more modern in comparison to CJS. Westlaw has online access to both CJS and AmJur2d, and Lexis provides online access only to AmJur2d.
There are state and regional encyclopedias as well. Illinois has two such publications, Illinois Law and Practice (West) (Call # Law Reference Stacks - KFI 1265 .I44) and Illinois Jurisprudence (Lexis) (Law Reference Stacks - Call # KFI 1230.5 L44) . Illinois Law and Practice is published by West and is a comprehensive survey of Illinois Law. The set is arranged alphabetically into topical chapters, and then into sections. The set includes several index volumes. Each section has cross-referencing to other West publications, Key Numbers, and other research references. Pocket Parts update the main print volumes so Do Not Forget to check the pocket parts in print volumes to obtain more current information.
Illinois Jurisprudence is a competing publication from Lexis. Rather than covering all Illinois law, the set focuses on major topics that are useful to a practitioner. These include civil and criminal procedure, criminal law, personal injury, estate administration, family law, business associations, and others. The editorial analysis in this set is cross-referenced to Lexis, and Lexis Publishing titles.
There are other regional or state encyclopedias covering the law of various jurisdictions. Many of these are available on either Lexis or Westlaw, depending on which of the two now own the publishing rights. These online services are the mostly likely source for out of state encyclopedic information. The trend for many libraries, especially academic libraries, is to rely on Lexis and Westlaw for encyclopedias for remote jurisdictions. For example, Florida Jurisprudence 2nd is available on Lexis. Ohio Jurisprudence 3rd is available on Westlaw. Consult the guides for each service for encyclopedia coverage for states other than Illinois.