A good starting point in exploring alternative legal research services is the Gallagher Guide to Low-Cost Legal Research Services on the Web. That guide focuses on Casemaker and VersusLaw.
VersusLaw, which is free to law students for academic use, provides access to state, federal, and tribal court decisions. Additionally, access to state and federal statutes and accompanying regulations is available under various subscription plans.
While Casemaker and VersusLaw are prototypical legal databases with functionality that should be familiar to users of BloombergLaw, LexisNexis, or Westlaw, the following services try to deliver legal research in innovative ways.
Mootus is another legal research product that is trying to build its knowledge database through user participation. Unlike the services previously discussed, Mootus does not provide access to case law and other primary law sources. Rather, Mootus allows users to post questions about legal issues, such as whether the First Amendment protects a person from criminal prosecution based on threats made via Twitter, and other users answer the question by providing quotations, citations, and annotations that support their stance. While not offering the resources of a typical legal research database, Mootus allows you to explore novel or unresolved legal issues, either as someone asking questions or providing answers. Gallagher Blogs covered Casetext and Mootus in April 2014.
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