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Law-Related Secondary Resources – Best Bet Legal Research Sites

Judith Kaul  /  Thursday, March 8, 2018  /  Categories: Just in Case, FreeSearch, Legal Research Tips  /  Rate this article:
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Where can you find freely available secondary legal resources when you don’t have access to Lexis and Westlaw? Surprisingly, you can find some, though they may be in narrow subject areas for some topics.  

Many legal researchers are not aware that FindLaw was purchased from its original creators by Thomson Reuters Westlaw in 2001.  Besides the freely available primary law that you can expect a website to provide, FindLaw now provides some secondary resources. For example: 

Commonly used business forms and contracts organized  by industry. You can find Legal Forms by State. For Ohio you can find forms for over 50 categories.   Examples of the topics covered are:  Agreements, Civil Actions, Corporations, Criminal, Divorce, Federal Law, Franchises, Guardianships, Landlord Tenant, Minors, Police Guides and Handbooks, Power of Attorney, Probate, Real Estate, Small Business, Wills, and Workers Compensation. 

Findlaw provides free access to the Encyclopedia of Law & Economics and excerpts of several articles from American Jurisprudence 2d.

If you are thinking of going solo, FindLaw provides a Law Firm Management resource with sections on How to Start a Law Firm  and Flying Solo: Starting Your Own Law Practice, marketing and other practical categories.

The Legal Commentary section on the U.S. Supreme Court  presents commentary by well-known legal scholars, e.g., Akhil Amar, Sherry F. Colb, & Lawrence M. Friedman. 

You can keep up with commentary on the Supreme Court through FindLaw’s Digest of the Supreme Court, which provides a weekly calendar of what’s On the Docket.  

Google Scholar & HeinOnline Law Journal Library for Alumni

You may think that law review articles cannot be included in your search plan if you are restricted to free resources.  However, you may still access excellent law reviews via Google Scholar even if you cannot access HeinOnline or JSTOR.  Many law reviews are now being widely disseminated via their law school websites just as we post our Law Review and journals via the bePress Scholarly Commons.  Google Scholar will provide access to these articles. 

Furthermore, Case School of Law Alumni may apply for a library card and use an active CWRU username and password to access select research databases, https://law.case.edu/Our-School/Library/Alumni-Guests including the Law Journal Library of HeinOnline.

After receiving your card these resources are available to you at any time. You have limited access to an interdisciplinary, alumni-licensed database known as HeinOnline Law Journal Library. "It contains more than 1,700 law and law-related journals with a broader range of coverage than Westlaw or LexisNexis combined. The ABA Law Library Collection Periodicals contains digital access to over 100 ABA-related periodicals, including 44 periodicals previously available only to ABA section members, and provides access to current volumes of included periodicals, covering all subject areas of American law.  Authorization to login requires an active network ID/password. Don’t remember your login? No problem. You may reset your password by using this password reset tool or calling the [U]Tech Service Desk at 216-368-HELP (4357)."
 The American Bar Association Free Full-Text Online Law Review/Journal Search is another option for users. It is a search engine that searches the free full-text of over 400 online law reviews and journals.  It also searches Congressional Research Service Reports. Several of these law reviews and journals only exist online. It also searches the bePress Scholarly Commons at CWRU.

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