It is no secret that legal research can be expensive. For years, in order to complete high-quality research, law firms would have to spend fortunes in order to access the best resources. To gain the “edge” over your opponent meant spending more to gain more information.
This method of legal research went on until the question of “what if” appeared.
“What if there were some great free resources available to help law firms get the legal information they needed?”
Turns out, in 2022 there now are! These tools can help you find cases, statutes, and other legal documents quickly, easily, and free. And this does not mean you’ll have to compromise on the quality of your work. These free tools help you do legal research that’s credible and reliable.
There’s only one challenge to using free legal research platforms though…. You need to know which websites are the best to use and where to find them!
That’s why we at CGI IT have done the hard work for you! We curated a list of ten best free legal research tools out there. No matter what your needs are, we got you covered. These free tools will help you every step of the way in presenting your best case – without a hefty price tag attached.
The Best Free Legal Research Tools
First on the list is FindLaw. With a mission to make law accessible and understandable for everyone, Findlaw contains a massive library of free, up-to-date legal content and tools open to the public.
One of their most popular sections is the case and codes section. This section contains resources and links for both federal and state laws. You can browse Federal Laws, US Court of Appeals – Opinions & Resources, State Resources, and much more.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use, free legal research tool, then you should definitely try out FindLaw.
Next on the list, we have the Legal Information Institute (LII.) The Legal Information Institute (LII), founded in 1992, is a nonprofit organization that provides free access to legal information online. With a stated mission to “advance justice through free and open access to law,” the LII contains a variety of resources, including Supreme Court decisions dating back to 1791, the US Code, and a law dictionary.
One of the best things about LII is that it has a free legal dictionary and legal encyclopedia called Wex. Wex entries are collaboratively created and edited by legal experts. This platform is sponsored and hosted by the Legal Information Institute as well as Cornell Law School.
If you want a comprehensive legal research tool that is free to use, then the Legal Information Institute is the perfect choice for you.
Next we have the Caselaw Access Project! With a goal to make all published U.S court decisions freely available to the public online, in a content format, digitized from the collection of Harvard Law School Library, Caselaw Access Project doesn’t fall short of this.
This website has been gathering information since its earliest case 1658, as well as housing all current volumes published through 2019, including new data releases at the beginning of each year. From a scope that includes all state courts, federal courts, and territorial courts, Caselaw Access Project has it all.
4) CourtListener: The Perfect Tool for Legal Opinions
We couldn’t forget CourtListener! If you are searching for a comprehensive legal research tool that includes court opinions, then CourtListener is the perfect tool for you. CourtListener is a project of the non-profit organization, Free Law Project, which is a 501(c)(3).
This website is known for its extensive collage of oral arguments. Courtlistener stated “We began collecting oral arguments after hearing that many courts were simply deleting them, claiming that they were too expensive to keep.” With a goal to collect historical records for students, historians, researchers, journalists, attorneys, and the public,” Courtlistener has oral arguments dating back to 1969.
If you are in need of court opinions, then CourtListener is definitely the website you should be using.
Next up is Justia, a platform dedicated towards providing open and free access to the law, as well as building community with those in the legal space to share their knowledge. Justia provides many knowledge sharing tools as well as databases for both law and legal information.
Some of the resources that Justia offers are: Federal & State Cases & Codes, US Constitution & Annotated,Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, Supreme Court Cases, as well as many more. This platform is favored because of its community involvement. If you are interested in learning as well as connecting with others in the legal space, then Justia is the perfect research tool for you.
With over 70 core areas of law that are broken into 260 sub areas of practice is HG.org. This website provides information on US (Federal and State), European and International laws. From publications, articles, organizations, resources, attorneys, and law firms, HG. org has it all.
HG.org began as a directory of law firms that has now grown into one of the most expansive legal research tools. HG.org is known for its clear and concise explanations of the law, which makes it perfect for those who prefer their information in plain language.
This website offers free resources in a different way compared to the other opinions on this list. Similar to Reddit, Law Stack Exchange is a Q&A website for law professionals. This website has a wide range of topics that include: Corporate Law, Torts, Property, Criminal, Family Law, and more.
What makes this website great is that anyone can ask a question in regards to law, anyone can answer, and the best answers are voted up to the top of the page. If you are looking to answer questions you just can’t seem to find the answer to, or want to ask a question to get different perspectives, then Law Stack Exchange is a great research tool for you. Simply sign up to their community and create a post or use their search bar to see what’s already there.
This list wouldn’t be complete without GovInfo. This website is a service of the United States Government Publishing Office (GPO), which is a Federal agency in the legislative branch. This platform provides free public access to official publications from all three branches of the Federal Government.
One feature that is popular on GovInfo is their “Today’s Federal Register” where users can access the daily publication of the federal government which includes proposed and final rules, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents. Another great feature is that users can sign up to receive notifications through email or RSS feed whenever a new document is published that meets their criteria. If you want to stay updated and in the know with all things Federal Government, then GovInfo is a great resource for you to use.
Last but not least is Google Scholar. Google Scholar provides an easy way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across a wide range of disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research.
One great feature of Google Scholar is that it helps you stay organized with your search results as well as your citations. You can set up your personal library to save and organize articles as well as find new ones that are related to your interests. This is extremely helpful as with other legal research tools, you can quickly become lost in the sea of information. If you want a broad search engine that will help you find scholarly articles from all over the internet, then Google Scholar is a great research tool to use.
Trust me, we at CGI IT understand! Research can at times be overwhelming, and it is often hard to know where to start. Hopefully, with this list of the best free legal research tools, you can feel more confident in your research abilities and find the right tool for you. Don’t be afraid to use all of them until you find the perfect combination for your needs. After all, they are free and easy to use!