Free and Low Cost Legal Research Guide

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

Free Sources of Statutes & Codes

The United States Code and most state codes are available for free online. These sources usually only provide the text of the statutes, however, and do not include annotations or case references. The online versions of codes also may not be current, which means they may not reflect the changes made by more recent legislation. Researchers therefore need to be careful to update these code sections with relevant case law and session laws.

For information about finding relevant statutes and statutory law generally, please see our Statutes Research Guide.

United States Code

These sources contain the most recent official version of the U.S. Code, which is published every six years. As a result, some individual code sections will be out-of-date and these sources need to be updated with session laws. As noted in the table below, the version provided by Cornell's Legal Information Institute provides links to recent legislation so researchers can easily determine how a particular code section has changed since the last official publication.


Source Dates Notes
govinfo 1994 - present Browsable and searchable by citation and keyword. To search the full text of the Code, use the advanced search interface.
Library of Congress 1925 ed. - 1988 ed. Digitized version of the official Code in print, offered as PDF. Browsable by edition and then by Title.
Legal Information Institute Most recent official version (with links to recent changes) Browsable and searchable by citation and keyword. Each code section includes a "Current through" notation and an "Updates" tab, which provides a list of recent modification.
Office of the Law Revision Counsel Most recent official version (with tables indicating recent changes) Searchable by citation, keyword, and Popular Name Tool. Use the "Classification" link to find tables providing cross-reference between code sections and recently enacted public laws.

United States Session Laws

Source Dates Notes
govinfo 1951 - present Browse the United States Statutes at Large (Stat.).
Office of the Law Revision Counsel As indicated Provides classification tables which indicate the updates made to each section of the Code since the last official publication.

State Codes & Session Laws

Online access to state materials varies widely. Please consult our state research guides for information about individual jurisdictions.