Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Case Law Research Guide

This guide details how to read a case citation and sets out the print and online sources for finding cases.


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  • Georgetown only
  • On Westlaw
  • On Lexis
  • On Bloomberg
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Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg Law

The major research databases, Westlaw,  Lexis, and Bloomberg Law have most of the cases published in the reporters.

All of the cases published in the reporters are also available in full text on Westlaw. Most of these cases are available on Lexis and Bloomberg Law.  Westlaw has PDF images of all cases published in the federal and regional reporters since 1980. All three databases offer case law searching by citation, jurisdiction, and subject.

Other Subcription Databases

There are several lower-cost alternatives to Lexis and Westlaw.  For information on Fastcase, Loislaw, VersusLaw, and other databases, see our Free and Low-Cost Legal Research Guide.

Free Internet Sources for Cases

There are many Internet sites that offer the full text of court opinions free of charge. These sites are best used to access recent decisions when the case name, title, or date is known.Free Internet sources are generally not recommended for subject research because the sites are not comprehensive and subject searching is not as sophisticated as print, Westlaw, or Lexis.

Supreme Court Cases

United States Supreme Court
This official site contains Supreme Court decisions beginning with the 2000 term. It also contains useful information about the Court and its docket.

Findlaw offers a searchable database of Supreme Court decisions dating back to 1893. This database is browsable by year and United States Reports volume number and is searchable by citation, case name, and full text.

Google Scholar
Provides the full-text of U.S. Supreme Court cases from 1 U.S. on. To limit your search to only Supreme Court cases, use the advanced search option.

Legal Information Institute
The Cornell University Legal Information Institute offers opinions of the Court issued since May 1990. Earlier opinions are also available; however, there are some gaps in coverage. Search the full text, or browse by topicauthor, or party.

Lower Federal Court Cases

Court Links
Maintained by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, this page includes links to appellate and district court home pages, most of which provide recent opinions.

Google Scholar
Provides the full-text of selected district court opinions, U.S. Courts of Appeals opinions (1920s on), and the Supreme Court (1 U.S. on).

Provides access to millions of court documents and every freely available written order and opinion available in PACER.  As of August 2017, the collection contained approximately 3.4 million orders and opinions from approximately 1.5 million federal district and bankruptcy cases dating back to 1960.  New opinions are downloaded every night to keep the collection up to date.  The entire RECAP Archive now has information for more than 20 million searchable PACER documents.

State Court Cases

Google Scholar
Provides cases from all 50 states (1950-). To limit your search to a specific state, use the advanced search option.

Update History

Revised CC (6/15)