Thursday, April 5, 2012

Free Case Law

It has been reported elsewhere that free case law through LexisNexis (whether from LexisONE or LexisNexis Communities) is no longer available. LexisNexis now states that, "Our case law collection is now only available through a subscription to Lexis Advance™ or®."

For those of you who are students, you are probably unfazed by this news, since you still have unlimited access to LexisNexis and Westlaw. But when you graduate, and suddenly have to pay for your legal research, free, low-cost alternatives may suddenly matter more to you.

Do not despair! The library still has reporters! You can come and search for and update cases in print! Or, if you do not want to do that, there are plenty of other resources for free online legal material. The Gallagher Law Library is creating some new pages regarding free online material (more on that will come later) but in the meantime, here are a few free case law options to help fill the gaping hole left in your life:

FDsys: The GPO and the Administrative Office of the United States Courts have teamed together for a pilot project, United States Courts Opinions - Beta, which allows you to search opinions back to 2004. You can also search from the main universal search bar, and then narrow by United States Courts Opinions.

Google Scholar: Click the "Legal opinions and journals" radio button and get to work. An easily searchable and browseable collection of free case law.

These are by no means the only options; the Internet for Lawyers post lists several others. The amount of free, searchable case law available online is becoming more complete and easier to access all the time.

Happy searching!

[Photo credit to j3net.]

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