Top 6 Tips For Free Online Legal Research

It used to be that legal research was expensive. There weren’t a lot of choices so most law firms simply paid exorbitant prices for access to case law, statutes, and treatises. But the Internet changed everything.

These days there are a multitude of affordable options for solo and small firm attorneys when it comes to legal research. Oftentimes, it’s even free. The trick is sorting through all of the tools available and finding the best sites and services for your needs at the best price.

Fortunately, earlier this year at ABA Techshow,  Carole Levitt and Judy Davis, the authors of the newly published book Internet Research on a Budget, gave attendees pointers on how to do just that. As part of our contribution to Techshow this year, we brought in Stephanie Crowley to take visual notes of many of the sessions, including this one. The visual notes from that session can be found below, including our selection of the top 6 most useful tips from the presentation, along with links to sites that provide further information (click to view larger image):

visualnotes.levitt.author

1. The presenters recommended the Fastcase iPhone app. It’s free to use to conduct case law searches even if you don’t subscribe to Fastcase.

2. Google Scholar was also recommended as one of the best free online legal research tools because it allows for filtering, sorting, and you can easily create Google alerts so you’ll stay on top of the latest decisions as they’re handed down.

3. Another online portal preferred by the presenters was Justia’s database, which they explained is especially useful for dockets and filings.

4. For legislative research, the best online source according to the presenters is Congress.gov, which is still in beta, but is extremely user-friendly.

5. If you’re looking to conduct agency research, the presenters suggest using USA.gov, which includes an A – Z list of agencies at the federal, state, local and tribal levels.

6. Finally, another great resource for all types of legal information that the presenters discussed is Cornell’s Legal Information Institute, which includes links to Constitutions, Codes, cases, and a legal encyclopedia, along with a host of other legal information.

So what are you waiting for? Put these free tools to use and see how much money your law firm can save!

–Nicole Black

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