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.

Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg Law

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

All of the cases published in print reporters are also available in full text on Westlaw. Most of these cases are available on Lexis and Bloomberg Law. All three databases offer case law searching by citation, jurisdiction, and subject.

Westlaw has PDF images of cases published in the federal and regional reporters. Some federal and state cases on Lexis include PDF images of the print reporters but without editorial content added by the publisher, such as West headnotes.

Other Subcription Databases

There are several lower-cost alternatives to Lexis and Westlaw.  For information on Fastcase 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. 

For a listing of free sources of case law, see our Free and Low Cost Legal Research Guide.