Restatement. "One of several influential treatises published by the American Law Institute describing the law in a given area and guiding its development. The Restatements use a distinctive format of black-letter rules, official comments, illustrations, and reporter's notes. Although the Restatements are frequently cited in cases and commentary, a Restatement provision is not binding on a court unless it has been officially adopted as the law by that jurisdiction's highest court."
To everyone struggling through law school, grasping for that legal understanding as you scour the case law for the elusive rules that will make or break your case -- this post is for you.
It is most certainly important to develop and maintain an ability to read a case and pull out the law in order to support your client's case. But sometimes it's difficult to wade through the verbose language of the courts to the individual nuggets of legal wisdom. That's where the Restatements come in handy.
The Restatements are just like they sound -- they "restate" the law from the cases and statutes in a readable, searchable, and understandable format. When using a Restatement, remember that there are two major components. The first is the actual text of the black letter law accompanied by commentary explaining it and hypothetical examples for illustration. The second is the appendix which includes case commentary and citations to lay the foundation for the black letter law.
As a secondary source, the Restatements can be invaluable for quick and easy access to the black letter law as well as explanations thereof. Just remember that the Restatement of the law is not actually the law itself. You still need to find the law in the cases or statutes from whence the restatement came. Unless, of course, your district has adopted a particular Restatement as binding authority.
Happy researching! If there's a source you'd like to hear more about, please comment!