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Free Legal Research Resources


About Free Legal Research Resources

This Guide is designed to direct you to some of the many free web-based resources you can use to conduct basic legal research. We are able to provide additional database access as well as print resources for free to patrons who visit the law library in person. Don't forget that our reference librarians are trained in legal research and are available to assist you during reference hours with finding and using appropriate legal resources. You can learn more about our guest, alumni, and local bar member services here. Students should visit Law Student Central for additional information and resources.

Evaluating Online Information

  • Who is responsible for the creation of the site?
  • Do they have listed credentials?
  • Are they associated with a reputable institution?
  • Can you contact them?
  • What is the purpose of this site?
  • What is the URL of the site and what might that tell you about its purpose?
  • What aspects of the site make it difficult/easy to use? (For example: typos, easy navigation, nice layout, images, too much advertising, etc.)
  • Where is this information coming from?
  • Is there a bibliography or listed references?
  • Is the site listed with an established institution?
  • When was the site last updated?
  • Does the site even have a date?
  • Does the currency of the information directly impact your subject?
  • Why is this website useful for your research?
  • Is it necessary for your research or could you find the information through a better source?
  • Why was the website created?
    • To inform? - the author is simply stating informational facts, such as dates.
    • To explain? - the author is explaining a subject.
    • To entertain? - the author is attempting to entertain the reader.
    • To persuade? - the author is striving to change your point of view on a subject.
    • To sell? - the author is trying to get you to purchase something.

Understanding Legal Research

Basics of Legal Research from Cornell

How To Research a Legal Problem: a Guide for Non-Lawyers from AALL

Locating case law on the internet from the Library of Congress

Legal Drafting- a beginner's guide from the Library of Congress

Discovery-A beginner's guide from the Library of Congess

Guide to Law Online from the Library of Congress

Legal Citation

Introduction to Basic Legal Citation, also known as the Bluebook, this is the online version of the official manual for legal citation

Basic Legal Citation from LII

How to Read a Legal Citation from Carnegie Mellon University

Reading Legal Citations from Boston College

Bluebook 101 from the University of Washington

Bluebook Guide from Georgetown University

Legal Reference Shelf



  • WEX
    A free legal dictionary and encyclopedia from LII.
  • NOLO
    A layman's legal encyclopedia.

Terminology and Acronyms