Free Legal Research Sites

Free Online Legal Information - Popular Resources

  • Case Law Access Project (Harvard Law) Provides access to all U.S. official published case law from 1658 to June 2018. 
  • FindLaw for Legal Professionals (Thomson Reuters) Includes case law, case summaries, statutes, legal search engine, legal news, RSS court updates, and practice information.
  • Government Publishing Office (Govinfo) Access to official Federal Government publications, including authenticated PDF documents.
  • Guide to Law Online (Law Library of Congress) Annotated Portal containing selected links to United States, Foreign, and International law resources, many offering primary, full-text legal materials.
  • Justia Includes case law, statutes, regulations, articles, opinion summaries (newsletter), and limited access to Federal District Court dockets.
  • Law Guru Free legal advice forum with a network of more than 8,000 specialized attorneys in all legal areas
  • Law Stack Exchange Question-and-answer forum for legal professionals, students, and others with an interest in law
  • Legal Information Institute (LII)  (Cornell University Law School) Provides primary legal materials, legal encyclopedia, and the Supreme Court Bulletin. 
  • Online Legal Information Resources Locate free online primary legal materials for all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, U.S. Federal Government, and Canada.
  • PublicLegal by Internet Legal Research Group Categorized index of select legal websites, thousands of legal forms, and helpful legal resources and documents

Search Engines

These sources limit Web-searching to law-specific resources.

  • Google Scholar Search Federal and State legal opinions and journals.
  • Legal Web Search (Justia) ( Justia > Govinfo (1994-) Authenticated PDFs.  Note that official Code is print edition published by the Government Printing Office. 
  • LII Current and newly codified (preliminary release) legislation. Browse or search by citation.  Links to part of Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) for which statute provides rule making authority. 
  • Office of Law Revision Council (U.S. House of Representatives) Prepares and publishes U.S. Code, provides searchable code (1988-), preliminary release Code, and tables.
  • Case Law
    • U.S. Courts
    • Findlaw  (Cases & Codes > Select Court)
      • U.S. Supreme Court (1893-)
        • Search by citation, party name, or full-text
        • Browse cases by year (2005-)
        • May use Boolean and proximity operators, and wildcards
      • U.S. Courts of Appeals (1995-, First Circuit 2/1984-, Ninth Circuit 11/1994-)
        • Search full text, by party name, or docket number
        • Browse recent decisions
      • Govinfo
        • U.S. Courts of Appeals (coverage varies)
        • U.S. District Courts (coverage varies)
    • U.S. Supreme Court (1759-)
    • U.S. Courts of Appeals (1950-)
    • Provides access to all U.S. official published case law from 1658 to June 2018. 
    • Search a comprehensive collection of United States case law
    • Free public access to published U.S. court opinions, statutes, and legal resources
    • Google Scholar (Legal Documents > Search all or selected Federal Courts)
      • U.S. Supreme Court (1791-)
      • U.S. Courts of Appeals (1923-)
      • U.S. District Courts (1923-)
    • Justia  (Laws: Cases & Codes > Browse by Volume or Year (Sup. Ct. 1959-).
      • U.S. Supreme Court (1791-)
      • U.S. Courts of Appeals (1951-)
      • U.S. District Courts (coverage varies) Decisions and Orders by State/District
    • Legal Information Institute (LII(Legal Resources > Federal Law > Judicial Branch)
    • Case Law Access Project (Harvard Law) 
    • Open Jurist
  • U.S. Court of Appeals Oral Arguments
    • Court Listener Audio of Circuit Court oral arguments. Coverage varies.
  • U.S. District Court Case Records
    • Justia (U.S. Law > U.S. Federal Law > U.S. Federal Court Dockets & Case Filings) Coverage varies, may only include docket sheet (2004-)
    • RECAP The Law Provides instructions to access donated District and Bankruptcy Court documents from PACER (Coverage incomplete, varies).
  •  Finding Citing Cases
    • Findlaw  From case display, select “cases citing this case” 
    • Google Scholar  From case display, select “how cited” 
  • Administrative Law: Consult individual websites for agency-specific rules, regulations, decisions, and other resources.  
    • Links to Federal Agencies
      •  A-Z list of U.S. federal government departments and agencies, with
    • Regulations
      • Govinfo (Official, 1994-) Browse by date and agency, PDFs.
      • Office of the Federal Register Browse current issue, links to Federal Register content on Govinfo. 
      • Search regulations by keyword, title or Regulation Identifier Number, filter searches by agency, document type, comment period, or category. Find and post comments on proposed regulations. 
      • Federal Register
    • Code of Federal Regulations
      • Govinfo (official, 1996-) Browse by year and Title, PDFs.
      • e-CFR (unofficial) Current edition, updated daily.  Browse by Title, search by keyword. Content should be verified against official version when available on Govinfo.
      • Legal Information Institute (LII) (unofficial) Browse by title, search by keyword. Includes Parallel Table of Authorities showing agency regulatory authorization. Content in database refreshed weekly. 
    • Presidential Resources  

State Law

Please also consult the library’s Virginia Legal Materials Research Guide for information about free Virginia resources.

  • Primary State Materials (Constitutions, Statutes, Cases) 
    • FindLaw: State Resources Includes state constitutions, codes, bills, court opinions, and administrative codes. Coverage varies by state.
    • Google Scholar Provides state supreme court and appellate decisions (1950-). Use “advanced search” to restrict to specific state courts.
    • Justia: U.S. States Includes state constitutions, cases, and links to legislative resources. Coverage varies by state.  

International and Foreign Law

Please consult the library’s International Law Research Guide under the heading “Other Online Resources” for additional resources.

Journal Articles

  • ABA Legal Technology Resource Center/Law Technology Today  Search more than 400 online full-text journal/law reviews and related sources, including Congressional Research Service Reports.  Coverage varies.
  • Find It! Article Finder A Library of Congress tool to help you locate the full-text of an article by providing citation information.
  • Google Scholar  Limits Google search to academic journal articles, conference papers, dissertations, theses, indexes articles and abstracts from major academic publishers.  Coverage and access to full-text varies.
  • Law Review Commons  A resource provided by Bepress, browse and search law journal articles made available by institutions through their Bepress Digital Commons repositories.
  • Social Science Research Network (SSRN)  Widely used by scholars to share papers and articles in several topical networks.  Legal Scholarship Network includes over 130,000 papers searchable by keyword, title, author or date.  

Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

Legal News and Blogs

Research Guides

There are numerous topical online legal research guides, many written by librarians at university and public law libraries. In addition to George Mason Law Library Research Guides, other recommended sources for research guides include:

  • Emory Law Library Includes links to free electronic resources related to secondary sources, foreign law sources, and  U.S. federal, state, and local primary sources
  • Georgetown Law Library A large number of legal research guides and treatise finder.  
  • Harvard Law Library A large number of legal research guides and legal web search available. 
  • Information, overviews, definitions, and links for more than 260 legal practice areas.
  • Judicial Learning Center Helpful basic information on the role, organization, and operation of federal courts.
  • Law Library of Congress: Guide to Law Online Includes links to resources on U.S., Foreign, and International Law. 
  • LLRX  Web journal with guides covering Internet research and technology. 
  • Zimmerman’s Research Guide (LexisNexis) Online encyclopedia and collection of research guides.

Low Cost Mobile Apps & Databases 

The services listed below offer a variety of plans that provide enhanced searching for primary legal materials, although fewer search features than premium legal databases. In addition, while these products offer citators, however the updating features are not equivalent to Shepards, Keycite, or BCite. 

  • Casetext
    • Federal and state cases, statutes, regulations, and rules with annotated codified law, advanced citator, and free customer support
    • All-inclusive monthly price per month starting at $65
  • Casemaker
    • Federal and state cases and statutes, citator
    • Monthly and annual subscriptions available, fees based on state bar membership (free with some state bar memberships---not D.C., Maryland, or Virginia).
  • Courtroom5
    • Detailed guidance for pro se litigants on how to represent yourself in court.
    • Monthly membership fee of $49/month includes end-to-end legal case management toolbox.
  • Courtroom Objections (Mobile App)
    • A quick guide to making and responding to courtroom objections, including lists of common objections and responses.
    • App price is $2.99 with family-sharing option available for up to six (6) people.
  • Fastcase
    • Federal and state cases, statutes, regulations, court rules, and bar publications. Also includes a free mobile app.
    • “Authority Check” citator: identifies citing cases, flags cases that have been reversed or overruled. Note this is done with computer analytics so it is not equivalent to the human editing provided by Westlaw, Lexis, or Bloomberg law).  
    • Free access for Virginia Bar members, limited/reduced fee access for D.C. and Maryland Bar Members.
  • Law Stack (Mobile App)
    • Current, downloadable statutes, regulations, and rules.
    • Subscription options range from free access to paid packages.
  • Legal Dictionary (Mobile App)
    • Search 58,000+ cases and legal terms from top sources, including West’s Encyclopedia of American Law.
    • Free download, option to add in-app purchases.
  • Oyez (Mobile App)
    • Multimedia judicial archive of the U.S. Supreme Court, plus the Justia Lawyer Directory and Annotated Constitution
    • Free with family sharing available for up to six (6) people.
  • Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) 
    • Operated by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, provides access to Federal Appellate, District, and Bankruptcy Court case and docket information.
    • Charges $0.10 per page retrieved, $3.00 cap per document. Quarterly charges of less than $15.00 are waived.
  • Rule Book (Mobile App)
    • Exclusive mobile publishing platform for the Bluebook and other leading legal publishers. Included Federal Rules of Evidence, U.S. Constitution, and more.
    • Free download with option to add in-app purchases.

Last updated June 29, 2023