Top Free Online Legal Research Tools

Check out top free online legal research tools and platforms.


This guide contains selected free online legal research tools and resources. These are related to United States federal and state materials. Moreover, they can be a great way to get started when you don’t have access to paid databases. Additionally, they can be useful to get an overview of a topic before purchasing potentially expensive searches. We’ve listed free primary and secondary resources available, online platforms and tools. Ultimately, these will provide you with detailed and relevant legal information.

Federal Law and Government Documents


The U.S. Government Publishing Office’s Govinfo website provides access to select federal court decisions. In fact, these documents cover the period from 2004 to the present day. Moreover, GovInfo provides public access to official publications from all three branches of the Federal Government.

Federal Court Finder

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts provides a Federal Court Finder tool. Accordingly, it is used to locate the websites of individual federal courts. Hence, many of them include the text of recent decisions from that court.

Legal Information Institute (LII)

LII provides open access to legal materials. It includes annotated versions of the constitutionfederal statutesSupreme Court decisionsCFR, and more.

The Public Library of Law

This database provides access to a wide range of resources. For example, state and federal cases, court rules, statutes, regulations, forms, and constitutions.

American Law Sources On-line (ALSO)

ALSO collects online sources for legal materials including state and federal amicus briefs. Moreover, these are geographically based on the United States, Canada and Mexico

Federal Data Sources

Bureau of Justice Statistics

The Bureau of Justice Statistics provides free access to data on courts, crimes and law enforcement.

CDC Data and Statistics

This CDC website offers data on topics relating to general health topics as well as specific diseases.

Government's Data Catalog

This searchable catalog includes over 70,000 datasets on a wide range of topics. For instance, it includes datasets from federal, state, academic and other institutions.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

This website offers access to publications and data sets on labor and economic issues.

U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau provides access to data about the United States in a variety of formats.

U.S. Supreme Court Databases

This database includes data on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1953 to 2005.


TRAC provides information about staffing, spending, and enforcement activities of the federal government. 

Federal data sources are one of the top free online legal research tools that provide plenty of useful information for lawyers.

Statutes and Legislative Materials

This site offers access to a wide range of government documents and information. For example, it includes annotated constitution, legislation, committee reports, congressional records, and treaty documents. Consequently, this makes an excellent source for in-progress bills.

This website offers a wealth of federal government information. For instance, it includes links to the websites of departments, agencies and branches of government. Accordingly, these can be a good source for statutory and legislative materials.

U.S. House of Representatives

The next resource is The Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives. It offers a searchable version of the most recent version of the U.S. Code. Moreover, this website also provides access to session laws.

American Memory

The Library of Congress’s American Memory collection includes Congressional Records up to 1875. The best part is that these can be searched or browsed.

Supreme Court

Supreme Court of the United States

The Supreme Court website includes the full text of certain materials, including many opinions. In addition, it suggests resources for finding briefs and provides access to recent decisions. Also, it includes the bound volumes of the U.S. Reports from 1992 to the present.

Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases

This site from the American Bar Association provides the full text of briefs. In fact, they come from a large number of U.S. Supreme Court cases. Additionally, these include cases that have not yet been heard.


This blog covers Supreme Court cases. Furthermore, it compiles the documents for most major Supreme Court cases including petitions and amicus briefs.


This website contains a wide range of primary and secondary materials related to the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition, Oyez offers audio recordings of selected oral arguments.

State Law

National Conference of State Legislatures

This website includes a searchable database of state legislature websites. 

Open States

This site from the Sunlight Foundation provides access to state legislative information. Moreover, it includes pending legislation and legislator votes.

Cornell Legal Information Institute

Cornell LII contains constitutions, statutes and legislative information by state.

Court document database is one of the top free online legal research tools for lawyers.

State Case Law and Court Documents

Caselaw Access Project

The Caselaw Access Project (“CAP”) expands public access to U.S. law. Moreover, it made all published U.S. court decisions freely available online, in a consistent format. Also, it offers digitized formats from the collection of the Harvard Law Library.

U.S. Court websites

This website from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts collects links to the federal court’s websites. In addition, it offers digital copies of recent opinions.


Court listener is an alert tool for the U.S. judicial system that is updated daily. Moreover, it includes all precedential opinions from the Supreme Court and Circuit Courts. Non-precedential opinions are also included, except the D.C. Circuit. In addition, this site also offers a citator.


This searchable database from FindLaw offers U.S. Supreme Court opinions since 1893. FindLaw also maintained a database of case summaries for lower court opinions since 2000.


Justia includes an extensive database of federal cases. It is one of the top free online legal research tools you can use to your advantage.

RECAP Archive

This is a database of federal district and bankruptcy court documents from PACER. In fact, it has been contributed to the RECAP Archives for free access. However, not all documents that are on PACER will be available here.

National Center for State Courts - Court Websites

This website collects data on state courts and also includes links to state court websites.


LLRX offers a free collection of state court rules, forms and dockets.

Avalon Project at Yale Law School

This project provides digital copies of historical diplomacy documents including treaties. Treaty Documents

Treaty documents are available on for all treaties submitted to the Senate since the 94th Congress. Treaties submitted prior to the 94th Congress are included if they were pending in 1975.

Law Library of Congress Guides and Resources

National Archives

The Codification of Presidential Proclamations and Executive Orders is an online version of an out-of-print publication. That publication ran from April 13, 1945. to January 20, 1989. The Public Papers of the Presidents collected links to the online versions of these compilations starting with President Reagan.

The American Presidency Project

This website from the University of California Santa Barbara collects data, documents and media. Specifically, these are related to the American Presidency. Moreover, they include inaugural addresses, executive orders, proclamations and more.

The White House website offers links to presidential documents. For example, executive orders, presidential memoranda, and proclamations.

Guide to Law Online: U.S. Judiciary

Bibliography of links to federal courts’ websites and online repositories of decisions issued out of the federal courts.

How to Find Free Case Law Online

Law Library of Congress guides freely available options for tracking down electronic case law.

Secondary sources are one of the top free online legal research tools that provide plenty of useful information for lawyers.

Secondary Sources

Google Scholar

Google Scholar offers access to many legal documents. For example, these include patents, legal opinions and journals. Hence, this is one of the top free online legal research tools you can use to your advantage.

American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center Journal Search

The next source is American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center Journal Search. It lets you search over 400 open access and free legal journals.

SSRN Legal Scholarship Network

SSRN offers a large collection of working papers, both pre-and post-publication. Moreover, these papers cover a range of law-related academic subjects.

Directory of Open Access Journals

This database collects open access journals on all topics. Furthermore, the legal sub-category contains 139 journals.


Feedspot provides you with relevant blog articles within your legal practice area. In fact, you can check them out on their Top 45 Legal Marketing Blogs list

JSTOR Open Access Content

Most of the articles on JSTOR are only available to individuals at institutions with a JSTOR subscription. However, JSTOR partnered with leading presses on a project. Consequently, this led to adding open access ebooks to their collection. Thus, thousands of titles are now available from various publishers. For instance, University of California Press, Cornell University Press, NYU Press, and University of Michigan Press and more.


WEX is the Legal Information Institute’s free legal dictionary and encyclopedia. Hence, it is another top free online legal research tool you can use to your advantage.

This site offers a free legal dictionary that defines important legal terms. Thus, it is a good resource when getting started with a new legal topic. Dictionary

Justia also offers a legal dictionary that is both searchable and browsable by major legal topics.


This legal encyclopedia offers articles on a wide range of practice areas. For example, Bankruptcy, Disability Law, Family Law, IP, Real Estate and Finance.

Directory of Open Access Books

This database provides access to open access books on a wide range of topics, including law. In addition, it is searchable or browseable by title, subject or publisher.


Trove is another top free online legal research tool you can use to your advantage. In fact, this database collects newspapers digitized as part of the Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program.

World Bank Open Knowledge Repository

OKR contains works from 2009-2012 on a wide range of topics and all regions of the world. In addition, it includes links to datasets associated with research.

Google News Archive

Google’s News Archive allows users to search historical newspapers. Furthermore, you can retrieve scanned images of their pages. Although it is not specific to legal newspapers, it is worth a try. Especially if you are searching for a PDF of a newspaper article.


If you’re a solo practitioner or small firm, save these free legal research tools to get started. Accordingly, they will help you familiarize yourself with a new area of law. Moreover, they will save you the amount of time it takes to find what you need. Additionally, when you switch over to paid subscription service you will already have your search terms. To continue exploring similar topics, we recommend reading Top Legal Directories.

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