Georgetown Law
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.

Free Sources of Case Law

There is an abundance of free case law available online. Unfortunately, many of the editorial enhancements and finding aids that legal researchers are accustomed to are not available through these free sources. For example, these sources do not provide digests or headnotes, which organize cases by points of law. Instead, these sources utilize browsing and keyword searching as the principal means of finding relevant cases. Researchers should be aware of these limitations and understand that keyword searching and browsing are not necessarily the best methods to find cases.

For guidance on the significance of case law and methods for finding relevant cases, please see our Case Law Research Guide.

U.S. Supreme Court Cases

Source Dates Notes
Library of Congress 1754 - 2003 (v.1 - v.542) Browsable by year, justice, and major case topics. Searchable by case title.
FindLaw 1893 - present Browsable by year and U.S. Reports volume number, and searchable by citation, party name, and keyword.
Google Scholar All Uses the Google search algorithm to find and rank cases. Click "Case law" and then "Select courts" to choose the jurisdiction(s) you want to search.
Justia All Browsable by year and U.S. Reports volume number.
Supreme Court All Searchable by citation and keyword. Search can be limited by jurisdiction and date.

Federal Circuit Court Cases (Reported)

Source Dates Notes
Federal Court Finder Varies by circuit Use the locator to find individual courts by circuit.
FindLaw Varies by circuit but is generally from the mid-90s forward. Browsable by year and reporter volume number, and searchable by citation, party name, and keyword. (Circuits have to be searched individually).
Google Scholar 1923 - present Uses the Google search algorithm to find and rank cases. Click "Case law" and then "Select courts" to choose the jurisdiction(s) you want to search.
govinfo Varies Browsable by circuit then by year.
Justia 1901 - present Browsable by year and Federal Reporter volume number.

Federal District Court Cases

Source Dates Notes
Federal Court Finder Varies by district User the locator to find individual districts.
Google Scholar 1923 - present Uses the Google search algorithm to find and rank cases. Click "Case law" and then "Select courts" to choose the jurisdiction(s) you want to search.
govinfo Varies Browsable by district then by year.
Justia 1924 - present Browsable by reporter, state, and year.

State Court Cases

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