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When you don't have access to Westlaw or Lexis, use these free or low cost resources for legal research
Last Updated: Jun 12, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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This guide includes

  • Links to free and low cost Internet resources for legal research.
  • Advice on using books for legal research.


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Legal Abbreviations

Free Online Law Reviews

  • Law Review Commons
    The Law Review Commons contains over 75,000 articles from open-access law reviews with issues dating from 1904. Current issues and archives are freely available online through law schools’ bepress Digital Commons repositories.
  • Free Full-Text Online Law Review/Law Journal Search Engine
    From the ABA, this free search engine searches the free full-text of over 350 online law reviews and law journals, as well as document repositories hosting academic papers and related publications such as Congressional Research Service reports. Several of the law reviews and legal journals (such as the Stanford Technology Law Review), working papers, and reports are available online only.

Guides to Legal Research

Google Scholar Legal Opinions & Journals

Google Scholar includes an option that allows you to search legal opinions and journals.  It includes opinions for U.S. state appellate and supreme court cases since 1950, U.S. federal district, appellate, tax and bankruptcy courts since 1923, and U.S. Supreme Court cases since 1791.  In addition, it includes citations for cases cited by indexed opinions or journal articles which allows you to find influential cases (usually older or international) which are not yet online or publicly available.

The advanced search option lets you limit your search to a particular jurisdiction.  To find cases by name, limit your search to the title.

When searching for law reviews, the title is usually linked to a paid resource like HeinOnline or JSTOR.  To find free versions, click the link on the right, or the "View all versions" link under the citation and summary.

Save to "My Library" by clicking the "save" link under an article or opinion.

  • Google Scholar Legal Opinions & Law Reviews
    Advanced search option allows you to limit by author, title, jurisdiction, and court. How cited tab pulls up articles and opinions that have cited your opinion or law review article. Use "all versions" link to find free versions of articles.

Portals & General Legal Research Websites

  • Guide to Law Online
    Law Library of Congress annotated guide to sources of information on government and law available online. It includes selected links to useful and reliable sites for legal information.
  • FDsys (Federal Digital System)
    Access to official versions of primary law from all three branches of government.
  • Justia
    Links to federal and state primary law.
  • Legal Information Institute (LII)
    Cornell's LII has federal and state case law, statutes, and regulations, along with law by topic.
  • Public Library of Law
    Access to federal and state cases, statutes, and regulations.
  • Government Documents on Politics and Law
    Resources on laws and regulations, constitutional questions, the Supreme Court, Congressional caucuses, and criminal justice topics such as copyright and human rights
    Includes bulk access to court decisions, statutes and administrative codes, and Pacer documents.
  • New York State Government Information Locator Service
    NYS GILS provides a single point of access to information services provided by New York State Government agencies, the State Legislature and the Judiciary. The GILS site is hosted by the New York State Library.
    International focus, includes legal directories, law firms, practice areas, job postings.
  • ipl2
    Internet public library, includes links to sites for research in many disciplines, including law.
  • ContractStandards
    Research standard clauses and get inside analysis. Customize model contracts with Document Assembly tool. Create private libraries from your own collection (the private libraries service is fee-based).

Low Cost Resources

  • State & Local Bar Associations
    ABA map and list, check to see member benefits, including remote access to a low cost legal research service.
  • Fastcase
    Low cost access to federal and state primary sources of law. Available for free through the New York State Bar Association website if you are a member. NYSBA benefit includes free access to NY cases, statutes, and regulations, and an 80% discount off the full Fastcase library.
  • Loislaw
    Offers low cost access to primary sources of law, public records, treatises, and forms.
  • Casemaker
    Casemaker partners with state bars to provide members with access to primary legal research and knowledge discovery. These state bars currently include CT, MA, RI, ME, and VT, but not New York or New Jersey.
  • Smart Litigator
    Complete, affordable, NY-specific case prep solution, recently enhanced with new capabilities and content. Also available for NJ, CT, PA.
  • Jenkins Law Library
    "America's first law library," located in Philadelphia, provides on-site and remote access to legal databases to its members. Member databases and access information is available here. Membership fees are available here.
  • Practical Law
    Includes thousands of up-to-date, practical resources. Free access for law school students, staff, and faculty.
  • Ravel
    Search federal and state case law using natural language or boolean searches. Visualization map shows relationship between your cases and cases that have cited it. Add notes and annotations to cases. Ravel provides free access for law students and law professors. Request an account here.

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Cynthia Pittson
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Head of Reference Services and Adjunct Professor of Law
Pace Law Library
Gerber Glass 201E
White Plains, NY 10603
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Local Libraries

These libraries offer unique collections and free or low cost access.  If you have a library card from your local public library, check its website to see what databases are offered remotely.

  • New York City Bar Association
    Access to the ABCNY library is free to summer associates. The Library contains the single most comprehensive collection of U.S. and N.Y. appellate court briefs and records on appeal available. It has a strong historical collection of treatises as well.
  • New York County Lawyers' Association
    Access to the NYCLA library is free to members. Law students can join the NYCLA for $25 a year, and fees for admitted lawyers are reasonable. The Library offers FREE access to Westlaw and Lexis and has a unique collection of historical materials.
  • New York State Library Databases and E-Journals
    Access to NYSL's electronic resources is free to NY residents--use your NY driver's license for many of them.
  • New York State Library: Apply for P Card
    Attorneys admitted in NY can apply for a "P" card that allows remote access to many databases. NYSL has a digital collection of NY historical documents as well.
  • Westchester Supreme Court Library
    The Westchester Supreme Court Library is located in the Richard J. Daronco County Courthouse, 111 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 9th Floor, White Plains, NY, (914) 824-5660. Hours are generally 9AM to 5PM, but you should call to confirm.
  • White Plains Public Library
    Check local public library for access to additional resources.

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