Free Legal Research Resources
The California Desert Trial Academy meets the needs of modern law students. Those who are looking for a different approach to legal education need not look any further than the CDTA. Our four-year Juris doctorate program allows working adults of the Coachella Valley the opportunity to obtain a legal education.
Legal research is expensive, but there are various options available for free. In past years, these options were somewhat limiting. However, the field of legal research is in the middle of a long transition from traditional hard copy books to digital formats. Until you build your law library, there are more than a few free solutions available presently for conducting legal research.
Most Federal case law and court documents are available online at no cost, especially if the case was decided recently. Many statutes and legislative materials are also available for free online. Always ensure that you are looking at the most recent authoritative version of a statute.
Courts are increasingly making their materials available online at no cost. This is especially true of state Supreme Courts. If you have a case’s citation, then it is often a good idea to start at the website of the deciding court.
The following contains some free online legal research resources, which can help you start your research when you do not have access to commercial databases or if you just want an overview of a topic before starting an expensive search. For in-depth help with your research, ask your librarian!
- Google Scholar allows you to search and read published opinions of U.S. state appellate and supreme court cases since 1950, U.S. federal district, appellate, tax, and bankruptcy courts since 1923, and U.S. Supreme Court cases since 1791. It also includes a variety of other select legal resources. (https://scholar.google.com)
- Justia provides free access to a large variety of legal information, including cases, organized by jurisdiction and subject area. It includes databases of legal blogs and has its own blog, Verdict, with analysis of current legal issues. (https://www.justia.com)
- Legal Information Institute is Cornell Law’s collection of free legal material, which includes unofficial full-text copies of Supreme Court opinions, federal court rules, the U.S. Code, and the Code of Federal Regulations. The Legal Encyclopedia section provides a good starting point for researching legal topics. (https://www.law.cornell.edu)
- Library of Congress Guide to Law Online provides annotated links to free legal materials for the U.S. federal system, states and territories, and international research. (https://www.loc.gov/law/help/guide.php)
- Public Library of Law provides free access to primary sources in U.S. law, including federal and state cases, statutes, regulations, and constitutions. Legal forms are also available, which may require an additional fee. (http://www.plol.org/Pages/Search.aspx)
- WashLaw Web Large and diverse collection of web links to legal material is maintained by the Washburn School of Law. The information is arranged by jurisdiction and topic. (http://www.washlaw.edu)
- Full-text Online Law Review/Law Journal Search Engine by the American Bar Association is a free search engine that can search the free full-text of over 300 online law reviews and law journals, as well as document repositories hosting academic papers and related publications such as Congressional Research Service reports. (https://www.americanbar.org/groups/departments_offices/legal_technology_resources/reso urces/free_journal_search.html)
- Government Publishing Office provides access to official Federal Government publications. (https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/)
- Leagle is a free site consisting of every opinion and decision handed down by the Courts – Trial Courts, Appellate Courts, and Supreme Courts, spanning Civil, Criminal, Family, Tax, or Bankruptcy litigations, published daily. It’s library is comprehensive and contains over 5 million published and unpublished cases since 1950. (http://www.leagle.com)
- National Center for State Courts provides the opinions of several state courts online in PDF form. The directory of State Court Web Sites allows searches of most of them. (http://www.ncsc.org)
- gov allows users to search federal and state government websites. A great place to start any research. (https://www.usa.gov)
- Dragnet-New York Law School Library allows users to search a limited group of law websites, constitutions and codes, and law reviews with online content. (http://www.nyls.edu/library/library_services/dragnet1/dragnet/)
- LexisWeb allows users to search both free legal information and fee-based resources available from LexisNexis. Search results may be limited by filtering options. (http://www.lexisweb.com)
Like traditional law schools, CDTA’s curriculum is designed to teach students the substantive law of core subject areas. Unlike traditional law schools, CDTA emphasizes training and developing students to be capable and competent advocates in any courtroom. The California Desert Trial Academy (CDTA) is a 21st Century law school that moves students toward a successful legal career on the first day of class. We believe that practical experience in tandem with legal knowledge is the best road to a successful, rewarding, and prosperous legal career. Call us today at (760) 342-0900 or find out more online here.