Cost-Effective and No-Cost Legal Research

Scope

This guide is intended to help legal researchers use library print and electronic sources efficiently and effectively. Law students will find the tips in this guide useful when conducting research during a clerkship or when they start their first associate position.  It will be important to work efficiently, quickly and with the costs of your employer in mind. This guide will give you tips to facilitate your research in a timely, low-cost manner.  It will also give you links to free or low cost resources.  There is a list of law libraries that will provide free resources and reference services.

 

When To Go Online and When To Use the Books

  • Use an electronic subscription database after you have familiarized yourself with your research problem, know the vocabulary, and have analyzed the issue.
  • If the problem is difficult to research using print sources, it's a good candidate for computer-aided legal research, and visa versa. Specific fact patterns make better candidates for online research; problems using vague, imprecise, or varying terminology are not.
  • Use electronic resources to update book research.
  • Use electronic resources for citator services.
  • Use electronic resources for specialty legal titles and non-legal information not carried by the firm.
     

Cost-Effective Tips when Using Electronic Subscription Databases

  • Learn the practice area resources each electronic service has before you begin your research.
  • Understand the different pricing structures offered by the electronic services and learn when each one would be appropriate to your search.
  • Plan your search before you go online, and proofread your search before you submit it.
  • Learn some of the nuances of searching LexisNexis and Westlaw:
    • Field/Segment searches
    • Use Fucus/Locate if you are paying by search
    • There is no charge for accessing previous searches via the History or Trail function with a transactional pricing plan
    • There is no charge for using the Table of Contents or Book Browse function until you enter the database or source
    • When possible, use the Get a Document or Find a Document feature instead of running a search in a database
    • Use the Internet browser print function to avoid LexisNexis or Westlaw printing costs
    • Search in the smallest file using the broadest search
    • Combine two searches if possible
  • Use the vendors' customer service numbers and online help.
  • Use available law librarian expertise.
  • Attend training opportunities that are available to you.

Tips To Make Your Employer Happy


  • Use your employer's law library.  
  • Do not print every case you find that is remotely applicable.  Pull those cases off the shelf, read them, and select for photocopy only the most relevant.
  • Learn both LexisNexis and Westlaw.
  • Get preapproval before conducting computer research. Many clients won't pay!
  • Return materials promptly that have been interlibrary loaned for your use. Fines will accrue if the books are not returned on time
  • Become acquainted with the area law libraries. The libraries are listed below.

General Tips

  • Keep a research log of where you've searched, what the last supplement was you checked, what search terms you've used and what you found. Keep a copy of all database searches run.
  • Know when to stop. When certain themes, cases and statutes begin to recur, it's a good indication that you've found what there is to find.
  • Always update any research that you find - once when you find it, and one last time before it goes out the door.

Arizona Resources


Free Sources for Arizona Statutes:

Arizona State Legislature
The Arizona Legislature's website offers access to the  unnanotated version of the Arizona Revised Statutes. 
The statutes are searchable and browsable by title and section.

The Arizona Constitution
The online Arizona Constitution is provided by the Arizona Legislature.  The Constitution is searchable by entering phrases in the search box provided. 
It is also browsable by article and section.

Arizona Court Rules
The Arizona Court Rules Forum of the Arizona Supreme Court links users to a list of current Arizona court rules.  Also included are lists of pending rule changes.

Arizona Judicial Branch
The website of the Arizona Judicial Branch provides links to opinions, rules, and orders of a variety of Arizona courts and agencies. 

LexisNexis Academic
LexisNexis Congressional is available in the library on the computers provided.  It is also available remotely for law students and staff.  The Arizona Revised Statutes are avaialble back to 1991. 

Westlaw Patron Access
Westlaw Patron Access is available for use only from within the library at the computers provided.  Users can access the annotated and unannotated versions of the Arizona Revised Statutes.  Statutes from 1988 to the current version are accessible.

 

Free Sources for Arizona Case Law Research:

Arizona Supreme Court Opinions
The Arizona Supreme Court website provides access to its opinions from 1998 to the present.

Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One Opinions
This webpage provides access to opinions by the AZ Court of Appeals, Division One.  All links are to PDF files.

Arizona Court of Appeals, Division Two Opinions
Division two of the AZCAP, located in Tucson, Arizona provides access to the court's opinions, upcoming opinions and memorandum decisions. 

LexisOne
LexisOne is a service provided by LexisNexis.  Users can access the last 10 years  of state and federal case law.  Supreme Court decisions from 1781 to the present.  Searchable by keywords or by citation.  Limiting fields include date, party, judge and attorney.

MegaLaw
MegaLaw provides free access to Arizona case law including Arizona Supreme Court and Appellate Court opinions.

LexisNexis Academic
LexisNexis Congressional is available in the library on the computers provided.  It is also available remotely for law students and staff.  Users can access cases from the Arizona Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and the Federal District Court for the Dustrict of Arizona.

Westlaw Patron Access
Westlaw Patron Access is available for use only from within the library at the computers provided.  Users can access Arizona Supreme Court cases from 1912 to the present and from the Aourt of Appeals from 1965 to the present.
 

Free Sources for Arizona Regulations Research

Arizona Administrative Code
Access to the Arizona Administrative Code from the Secretary of State's website.  Includes the Title Index and the Arizona Administrative Procedure Act.  Listed by link to title and Article. 

Arizona Agency Directory
The Arizona At Your Service site provides an alphabetical list of Arizona agencies and links to their websites.

Arizona Administrative Register
Access to the Arizona Administrative Register is provided from the Arizona Secretary of State's website.  The Arizona Administrative Register tracks rulemaking activity.

LexisNexis Academic
LexisNexis Congressional is available in the library on the computers provided.  It is also available remotely for law students and staff.  Users can access the current Arizona Administrative Code and archives beginning in 2004. 

Westlaw Patron Access
Westlaw Patron Access is available for use only from within the library at the computers provided.  Users can access the Arizona Administrative Code from 2002 to the current version.

 

Free Sources for Arizona Court Rules

Arizona Court Rules
Westlaw provides a list of Arizona Court Rules with links to sections.  The sections contain some historical notes but no case annotations.

Arizona Court Rules Forum
There is information about amendments to rules as well as pending rule changes.

 

Arizona Law Libraries

The Arizona law libraries listed below provide access to free legal research in print and electronic source.  For more information click on their respective links.


Federal Resources


Free Sources for the Federal Statutes:

Government Printing Office:  United States Code
This the main page of the GPO's online access to the US Code. 

Cornell University Law School: LII:  US Code Collection homepage
This webpage is the main page to access the LII US code collection.  The code is searchable by title and section as well as by browsing the table of contents. 

Office of the Law Revision Counsel: US House of Representatives
The Office of the Law Revision Counsel is part of the US House of Representatives.  From this webpage users can search the US Code and also download chapters and titles of the Code.  There is access to a popular name tool that allows users a way to search the code by the popular name of the act that is being researched.

Findlaw: US Code
Findlaw provides users a way to search the code by title and section or by keyword.

Thomas: Library of Congress
Thomas provides this page for users to search bills by word or bill number, or by bill sponsor.  Numerous links are provided to other relevant information regarding the federal statutes and the legislative process. 

LexisNexis Congressional
LexisNexis Congressional is available in the library on the computers provided.  It is also available remotely for law students and staff.   Users can search congressional documents oncluding legislative histories, bills and laws. 

LexisNexis Academic
LexisNexis Congressional is available in the library on the computers provided.  It is also available remotely for law students and staff.  Users can access the United States Code Service.

US Session Laws
The US code classification tables show where recently enacted laws will appear in the United States Code and which sections of the Code have been amended by those laws. Includes tables that go back to 1996.

Westlaw Patron Access
Westlaw Patron Access is available for use only from within the library at the computers provided.  Users can search the United States Code Annotated and the unannotated version of the current code.  Historical versions of the code are available starting from 1990. 

 

 

Free Sources for Federal Case Law Research

Supreme Court of the United States
The U.S. Supreme Court's webpage provides opinions from 2005-2009.  The page also includes a link to the latest slip opinions.  Numerous links to other information regarding the Supreme Court.

Findlaw: Supreme Court Opinions
This page allows users to search for Supreme Court opinions from 1893 to the present.  Users can browse by year, and search by citation, title, and text.

Supreme Court Collection: Cornell University Law School
Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute has a Supreme Court Collection.  Includes decisions by month and term and the ability to search for opinions.  The site includes an archive back to 1990.  Links to other resources and websites.

Oyez
This website includes court media devoted to the US Supreme Court.  Includes recordings of oral arguments before the court.  Also contains information about the individual justices and other supreme court information.
 
LexisOne
Lexisone provides free case law to for the last 10 years.  It includes both state and federal cases. Supreme court decisions included are from 1781 to the present.  Users can search by key word or citation.

Findlaw
Findlaw's Cases and Codes allows users to access resources for both federal and state law.  In addition to cases, users can access statutes and constitutions. Links to the the individual circuit appellate courts and to the states are provided.

AltLaw
AltLaw provides free user access to case law.  Presently access is limited to U.S. Supreme Court case back to 1805 and to circuit appeals courts back to 1950.  Also included are unpublished circuit appellate cases back to 1996.

PreCydent
The opinions database includes US Supreme Court cases back to 1759, federal district courts from 2004, cases in the Federal Reporter 2nd edition since 1950 and Federal Reporter 3rd edition up to August, 2003.

Justia
Justia provides links to various courts' websites where users can find court opinions.  Links provided are to US Supreme Court, US appellate courts, district and bankruptcy courts and state courts.

Internet Legal Research Group (ILRG)
The Internet Legal Research Group (ILRG) provides links to numerous courts around the country including US Supreme Court, US Federal Circuit Courts, and the state supreme courts.

Cornell University Law School: LII
The LII provides free access to federal judicial opinions by links from its website.  Included are links to opinions from the US Supreme Court, US Court of Appeals, US district and bankruptcy courts and courts of special jurisdiction including the US Tax Court, the US Court of Claims, US Court of Appeals for Armed Forces, US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and the US Court of International Trade.

United States Courts
The US Courts website links users to information about all courts that make up the federal court system. 

Public Library of Law
The Public Library of Law provides free access to case law and other primary sources of law.  Included are cases from the US Supreme Court and the US Court of Appeals.  Case from all states are available back to 1997. 

LexisNexis Academic
LexisNexis Congressional is available in the library on the computers provided.  It is also available remotely for law students and staff.  Users can access cases from the Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal, the federal district courts, and U.S. Supreme Court.

Westlaw Patron Access
Westlaw Patron Access is available for use only from within the library at the computers provided.  U.S. Supreme Court decisions back to 1790 are accessible.  U.S. Courts of Appeal decisions are available back to 1891.

Ravel Law

Ravel Law is a free online legal research tool that provides access to U.S.  Supreme Court and federal Circuit Court case law. It allows both keyword and Boolean searching and displays search results in interactive graphical maps that show trends in cases over time as well as how cases relate to each other.  

 


 

Free Sources to Research the U.S. Constitution

GPOAccess
Analysis and interpretation of the US Constitution is provided by the Government Printing Office.  There are links to the text and to constitutional law cases.

Cornell University Law School: LII
Cornell University Law School provides free access to the text of the constitution and amendments.  Individual links to each article and each amendment.

The Avalon Project: Yale Law School
The Yale Law School Avalon Project provides access to an exceptional collection of law and historical documents including the Federalist Papers. Each paper is provided in an individual file.

Library of Congress: Thomas
Thomas provides access to the entire series of Federalist papers.  Links open in individual files. These series of papers were written in order to provide support for ratification of the US Constitution.

LexisNexis Academic
LexisNexis Congressional is available in the library on the computers provided.  It is also available remotely for law students and staff.  Users can access the Constitution via the United States Code Service.

Westlaw Patron Access
Westlaw Patron Access is available for use only from within the library at the computers provided.  The United States Constitution is available through the United States Code Annotated.

 

Free Sources of Federal Administrative Law

Government Printing Office: Federal Register
The Federal Register is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, notices of federal agencies and organizations,executive orders and other presidential documents.

Code of Federal Regulations
GPOAccess.gov provides access to the latest Code of Federal Regulations .  Users are able to browse or search the CFR.

e-CFR
This is the most current electronic source of the CFR provided by the GPO and the Office of the CFR.  It is updated daily.  It does not provide the official version of the CFR.

List of CFR Sections Affected (LSA)
The LSA lists proposed, new and amended regulations that have been published in the Federal Register since the most current revision of the CFR.

LexisNexis Congressional
LexisNexis Congressional is available in the library on the computers provided.  It is also available remotely for law students and staff.   Users can access the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regualtions .

LexisNexis Academic
Lexis Nexis Academic is available in the library on the computers provided.  It is also avaialble remotely for law students and staff.  Users can access the Federal Register back to 1980 and the Code of Federal Regulations back to 1981. 

Westlaw Patron Access
Westlaw Patron Access is available for use only from within the library at the computers provided.  The current issues of the Federal Register are available as well as archival issues back to 1936.  The curren Code of Federal Regulations is available and archives are accessible back to 1984.

HeinOnline 
Available on campus to use in the library on the computers provided.  Remote access is available but limited to ASU students and staff.
The Federal Register is available on HeinOnline from 1936 to the present.  The Code of Federal Regulations is available on HeinOnline; coverage begins in 1938. 

 

Free Sources of Federal Court Rules

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Court Rules
The court provides access to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, Ninth Circuit Rules, proposed rules amendments and rule amendments.  Other information available on this cite include forms and decision. 

U.S. District Court, District of Arizona    
This webpage by the US District Court, District of Arizona provides links to the local rules of practice for Arizona.  Also included are local rules of Bankruptcy, Civil and Criminal Procedure, and others.

United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Arizona
This is a link to the forms and publications page for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Arizona. 

Cornell University Law School, Legal Information Institute (LII) 
The LII provides the following on its website:

LexisNexis Academic
LexisNexis Congressional is available in the library on the computers provided.  It is also available remotely for law students and staff.  Users can access federal and state court rules.

 

Low-Cost or Free Legal Research Benefits available
to Arizona Bar Association Members


LexisNexis

Members of the State Bar of Arizona receive  discounts on online legal research and other LexisNexis products. 

Fastcase

All active, judicial and over-70 members can access FREE, unlimited online legal research through a new member benefit powered by Fastcase. Click here for more information.

 

Other Low-Cost Subscription-based Legal Research Sources


LoisLaw

There are numerous subscription options avaialble.  See the "subscription options" menu on the left side of the Loislaw webpage.

National Law Library
National Law Library provides subscription based legal research.  The prices area available online as well as descriptions of its collections

VersusLaw
VersusLaw offers 3 different monthly subscriptions.  Descriptions of the plans and prices can be found online on the VersusLaw website.

LexisOne
LexisOne provides 10 years of free state and federal decisions as well as U.S. Supreme Court opinions from 1781 to the present.  Subscription plans are also offered by the day, week or month.  The description of the plan and prices are available online.


 

  

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