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Georgetown Law Library

Free and Low Cost Legal Research Guide

Think beyond Lexis, Westlaw & Bloomberg Law. This guides identifies resources for free or low cost legal research.

Contents

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  • On Westlaw
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Low-Cost Legal Databases

The free sources we have listed contain a great deal of primary source legal material. They are, however, much more limited in terms of search options and finding aids than fee and subscription based sources. In particular, free sources rely almost exclusively on keyword searching and browsing to find cases, rather than headnotes and digesting, which are used in Lexis and Westlaw. For this reason, the free sources may ultimately be inadequate.

There are also several relatively inexpensive online legal research databases. While none of these contains all of the material on Lexis or Westlaw, many lawyers will find that they provide most or all of the sources they will need in their practice. The databases use a variety of search methods and finding aids, and we have tried to provide that information about each source along with an overview of its content and pricing.

Virtually all of these databases provide a "citator" service. It is important to note, however, that these citators typically only provide a list of cases in which the citation appears. They do not include qualitative information, such as an indication that a particular case has received negative treatment. Westlaw provides this information through their Keycite service, and that service is available through the lower cost Westlaw by Credit Card listed below.

FASTCASE

Fastcase offers two subscription plans: a premium subscription ($95/month or $995/year) and an appellate subscription ($65/month and $695/year). Both plans offer access to the Fastcase appellate case law library, as well as state and federal codes and regulations. The premium plan also includes trial level opinions, while the appellate plan does not. Fastcase also offers a free 24-hour trial and 30-day money-back guarantee. Subscriptions are included in 25 state bar associations.

CASEMAKER

Casemaker provides unlimited access to the members of bar associations that join the Casemaker Consortium. A license fee is paid by each bar association and there are no additional fees to use the service. Currently, 25 state bar associations are members. Consult the Web page of your bar association to find out if you have access. Individual subscriptions are currently unavailable.

CASELEX

Caselex provides selected coverage of case law from the European Union and individual European countries. Only cases with EU relevance from individual countries are included. Caselex limits their coverage to cases involving one or more of the ten areas of law listed below. National cases are provided from 2000 forward, and all dates are provided for EU cases. There are several licensing options and a 14-day free trial is offered. 

VERSUSLAW

Casetext is a free legal research and writing platform that lets researchers search millions of cases, statutes, and regulations annotated with analysis contributed by the members of the legal community.  The Casetext library includes federal published and unpublished cases (Supreme Court, appellate, and district court) since 1925, as well as appellate cases for all 50 states, updated daily to include recently issued opinions.  Users can also search federal statutes and regulations, and state statutes from California, Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, and New York.
 

Casetext

Casetext is a free legal research and writing platform that lets researchers search millions of cases, statutes, and regulations annotated with analysis contributed by the members of the legal community.  The Casetext library includes federal published and unpublished cases (Supreme Court, appellate, and district court) since 1925, as well as appellate cases for all 50 states, updated daily to include recently issued opinions.  Users can also search federal statutes and regulations, and state statutes from California, Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, and New York.

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