The following is a guest post by Anna Price, a legal reference librarian at the Law Library of Congress.
We are back again to focus on the Law Library’s Research Guides. This time we are discussing another popular guide, How to Find Free Case Law Online.
Until a few years ago, case law generally was not freely-available online. Researchers had to find an accessible law library and then either learn how to search a subscription database or study the library’s print collection of reporters and digests. Recently, however, various organizations have been working to make state and federal court opinions, as well as associated case materials, available electronically without charge. This guide offers clear direction on using those resources.
The guide walks users through some popular online databases, with a focus on Google Scholar, CourtListener, FindLaw, Justia, and the Public Library of Law. Each section instructs users on navigating the resource and lists its tools, coverage, and unique features that may be helpful for various researcher needs. For example, did you know that CourtListener maintains the RECAP Archive, which includes selected case and docket information from federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts? Or what about FindLaw’s collection of Supreme Court briefs?
As an added bonus, the Google Scholar section includes a video demonstration from Law Library of Congress employees Robert Brammer and Barbara Bavis, who show viewers how to find a case on the Google Scholar platform.
We hope you will find this guide helpful in your research. As always, if you have any questions, please contact us through Ask A Librarian.