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Free and Low-cost Online Legal Research. Tina S. Ching Reference Librarian. February 28, 2006. Real World Costs of Lexis and Westlaw… sort of. Access in Law School Billing Clients Overhead Costs Rate Increases Examples of Pricing. Pay versus Free. Search Function Annotations

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free and low cost online legal research

Free and Low-cost Online Legal Research

Tina S. Ching

Reference Librarian

February 28, 2006

real world costs of lexis and westlaw sort of
Real World Costs of Lexis and Westlaw… sort of
  • Access in Law School
  • Billing Clients
  • Overhead Costs
  • Rate Increases
  • Examples of Pricing
pay versus free
Pay versus Free
  • Search Function
  • Annotations
  • Lag Time
  • Information for your Clients
  • Not everything is online
  • Not everything can be bought
starting points
Starting Points
  • Free sites that provide access or links to various types of legal information
  • Does not always have good searching capabilities
  • May need to register
  • May be owned by major publisher
starting points findlaw
Starting Points - FindLaw








starting points lexisone
Starting Points - lexisone








starting points lii
Starting Points - LII






starting points gpo access
Starting Points - GPO Access



U.S. Code

Public Laws


  • May be able to search multiple states at once
  • Date ranges of available cases vary
  • Keyword and Boolean searching may be available
  • May link to court’s website
cases findlaw
Cases - FindLaw


“motion picture” near copyright

cases court websites
Cases - Court Websites

  • Briefs are not always available even with Westlaw
  • Supreme Court briefs are easier to find for free
  • Older briefs may only be available in print or microfiche

court rules
Court Rules
  • Court Rules are free  But no annotations 
  • Check the court’s website for a link to court rules
  • May have to “register” to access information
  • Access may be through publisher (i.e. West)
court rules arizona
Court Rules - Arizona

statutes and bills
Statutes and Bills
  • Available for free!
  • No annotations
  • Not all info may be available
  • Older materials may not be available
statutes u s code
Statutes - U.S. Code

statutes arizona
Statutes - Arizona

bills thomas
Bills - Thomas

  • Federal Register has final rules and regulations, proposed rules and notices of administrative actions (such as hearings)
  • Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is an annual subject compilation of the rules and regulations
regulations agency web site
Regulations - Agency Web Site

arizona regulations
Arizona Regulations

california regulations
California Regulations

washington regulations
Washington Regulations

city ordinances
City Ordinances
  • Not always available in Print
  • Usually linked to City’s website
tempe city code
Tempe City Code

secondary sources
Secondary Sources
  • Mostly written for the public
  • Great for clients who want to do some research
  • Great for attorneys or students who want general information
  • Limited Information
secondary sources nolo
Secondary Sources - Nolo

secondary sources aba
Secondary Sources - ABA

secondary sources state bar
Secondary Sources - State Bar

low cost alternatives
Low Cost Alternatives
  • More advanced search functions than free resources
  • Can search multiple databases at once
  • Access to more secondary resources
  • Do not expect Lexis or Westlaw
low cost alternatives loislaw
Low Cost Alternatives - LoisLaw

other low cost alternatives

Other Low Cost Alternatives
don t forget your local law library

Don’t Forget your Local Law Library
  • Access to paid databases usually only in the library
    • Westlaw Patron Access
    • Academic Universe
    • Congressional Universe
  • Research Guides often available online
  • Portals – links to free and subscription databases