The Unexploded Cow’s Guide to Legal Research (a.k.a. Free & Low-Cost Alternatives to Lexi$ and We$tlaw) Duke Law Library Workshop April 5, 2007 Jennifer L. Behrens. “…The What Cow?!?”. http://www.cheapass.com
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The Unexploded Cow’s Guide to Legal Research(a.k.a. Free & Low-Cost Alternatives to Lexi$ and We$tlaw)Duke Law Library WorkshopApril 5, 2007Jennifer L. Behrens
”…Two basic facts about games: they cost too much, and they are at some level all the same.
If you ignore the clever shapes they come in, the cheap little plastic pawns are an interchangeable part of most of the board games in your house. So are the dice, the money, the counters, the pencils…These generic bits and pieces can account for as much as 75% of a game's production cost, and that cost gets handed to you.” …sound familiar?
Students can register for a free account which lasts until 6 months after graduation (see librarian for access code).
Username generated by Loislaw will be e-mailed, along with a password that you choose during registration.
Some unpublished opinions are available.
New cases are posted within 24-48 hours of publication.
In Loislaw, you may search across several different jurisdictions. Some other free & low-cost services do not allow a bridge between federal and state.
GlobalCite works similarly to Shepard’s and KeyCite, retrieving cases and secondary sources which cite the document in question.
Within a single database, you can search across multiple jurisdictions by using the check boxes and clicking “Continue”.
Loislaw includes “Acts” (session laws) as well as “Statutes” (codes).
Folders indicate that you can browse as well as search.
Secondary law includes many full-text subject treatises as well as CLE publications from selected states (including NY).
Publications include practice materials and subject treatises which are published by Aspen.
Examples: New York Lawyers’ Formbook; Tort Law Desk Reference: A Fifty-State Compendium; Commercial Real Estate Transactions Handbook…
For search commands and other tips, view “Help & Support”, linked from the bottom of every page.
Students can register for trial access to the case law databases; trial accounts must be reactivated each year.
Password generated by Versuslaw will be e-mailed, along with the username you select during the registration process.
The commands are very similar on all of these services, but not quite the same– always check before you search!
Trial subscribers must check their citations with a full-text search across all Federal Circuits for the official U.S. Reports citation.
Remember that District Courts are not included in that search. (Separate database.)
Help page includes a “Research Manual”, with tips and tricks for database searching. The various commands for field searching are published here.
Help page includes a short “Research Manual”, which outlines search tricks for the databases.
Other tutorials are available on Casemaker’s home page, as well as on the sites of other state bars in the Casemaker consortium.
Consortium members include:
These non-case law resources link to publicly available web sites like government publishers and Findlaw.com.
Newspaper search goes to a version of the Duke database “America’s Newspapers”.
Fastcase’s main advantages are natural language searching and Authority Check, which searches for cases that cite to your case (but is NOT intended as a full replacement for Shepard’s/KeyCite).
2. National Law Library
Supreme Court actually includes bound U.S. Reports volumes in PDF (1991- ).
Most courts only provide opinions in HTML or .txt.
After selecting “Briefs”, you will choose your term (1999- ) and view an alphabetical list of cases.
Laws are arranged chronologically (Pub. L. No.) and are available in .txt and PDF.
Bound volumes of the compiled Statutes at Largeare currently only available for the 108th Congress through this site.
Statutes at Large is available (1789-2004) in PDF through HeinOnline, a low-cost database.
Links lead to the full text of the bill(s), report(s), debate(s), etc., which are available via GPO Access.
You can search across multiple congresses, but it is much easier to retrieve documents by citation.
Just enter the cite in quotes into the search box.
GPO Access works best as a source for document retrieval– the search engine is not as powerful or sophisticated as other databases.
For best results, know your citation and browse to it, rather than search.
Remember to evaluate their authority before using…
Pay forms are automated (can be filled in online); free forms must be downloaded and printed.
Only selected forms are available on the free list.
Public Records -- People
Provides a directory of free and pay public records resources.
Although the site won’t link you directly into these “free” sites without a paid account, you now have enough information about the database (i.e., whomaintains it) to find it quickly through a Web search.
Public Records – Business
Monday 4/9: Putting it All Together (taking a research assignment from start to finish)
Pick up a copy of the discussion questions beforehand (on the library’s web site or at the Reference Desk).
Good luck this summer!