How Do You Do Legal Research Online?


Quick Answer

There are many different free and paid resources available from Lexis-Nexis, Westlaw and other providers for doing legal research online, says the American Bar Association. Google Scholar is another useful tool, according to the Tarlton Law Library at the University of Texas School of Law.

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Full Answer

The Tarlton Law Library suggests that Google Scholar is best used after a check of secondary sources, statutes and regulations but before a look at licensed databases such as Lexis and Westlaw. To find the online research tool, go to Google Scholar's homepage and narrow the search to "Case Law." Although Google's service is free and no log-in is required, it is limited to case law. References within cases to statutes and regulations are not hyperlinked. Google adds new content to the service several times a week, but updates to existing content can take up to six months to show.

Among other online resources, LexisONE provides free state and federal case law from the past five years and all Supreme Court cases from 1790, along with legal forms, U.S. court forms, a legal website directory, and a directory from Martindale-Hubbell, says the ABA. Also, a free tool on the ABA's Legal Technology Resource Center (LTRC) website offers full-text searches of more than 300 online law reviews and law journals. Beyond that, paid services for doing legal research online include Lexis-Nexis Research for Small Law Firms, Lexis Pay-As-You-Go, WestlawNext for Solo/Small Firms and Loislaw.

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