Top Free Online Legal Research Tools

Check out top free online legal research tools and platforms.

Introduction

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

Federal Law and Government Documents

GovInfo

The U.S. Government Publishing Office’s Govinfo website provides access to select federal court decisions from 2004 to the present. 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. It is used to locate the websites of individual federal courts. in addition, 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 from the United States, Canada and Mexico, including state and federal amicus briefs.

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. Datasets from federal, state, academic and other institutions are included.

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

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

Congress.gov

This site offers access to a wide range of government documents and information. It includes annotated constitution, legislation, committee reports, congressional records, and treaty documents. Furthermore, Congress.gov is an excellent source for in-progress bills.

USA.gov

This website offers a wealth of federal government information. 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 Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives 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 and 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. U.S. Supreme Court provides access to recent decisions and 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. They come from a large number of U.S. Supreme Court cases, including cases that have not yet been heard.

SCOTUS blog

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

Oyez

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 by making all published U.S. court decisions freely available online, in a consistent format, digitized 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.

CourtListener

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.

FindLaw

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

Justia

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. 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

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.

Congress.gov Treaty Documents

Treaty documents are available on Congress.gov 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. These are related to the American Presidency, including inaugural addresses, executive orders, proclamations and more.

WhiteHouse.gov

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 including 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

Search over 400 open access and free legal journals with the American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center Journal Search.

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

Feedspot provides you with relevant blog articles within your legal practice area. Check out all of them 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 to add open access ebooks to their collection. 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

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.

Law.com

This site offers a free legal dictionary that defines important legal terms. In other words- it is a good resource when getting started with a new legal topic.

Justia.com Dictionary

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

NOLO

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. It is searchable or browseable by title, subject or publisher.

Trove

Trove is another top free online legal research tool you can use to your advantage. 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 and 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.

Conclusion

If you’re a solo practitioner or small firm, bookmark this blog and save these online legal research tools to get started. They will help you familiarize yourself with a new area of law and save you the amount of time it takes to find what you need. In addition, when it comes time to switch over to paid subscription service you already have your search terms. If you want to learn more about this or similar topics, we recommend reading Top Legal Directories in 2021.

We help businesses grow and progress.

If you require guidance with your branding or marketing strategy, contact us today.

Fill in the application form below and schedule a consultation with us!

Comments are closed.