The Top 7 Best (Free) Legal Research Tools for Lawyers

Wouldn’t it be nice to have all your research at your fingertips? Time is money in the legal profession, and improving efficiency allows you to focus more on your clients and cases.

Whether you’re digging into court opinions or looking for the latest updates to state law, having the right information is pivotal to your success. That’s why we created an article to highlight the top free legal research tools for lawyers. Check out the Top 7 below.

1. Caselaw Access Project

The Caselaw Access Project (CAP) is an expansive database that includes all published state and federal case law from official reports of U.S. court decisions. CAP houses judicial decisions from all state, federal, and territorial United States courts. It contains a wealth of research for attorneys seeking to understand specific and applicable case law.

CAP is also highly interesting for lifetime students of law. The earliest case record dates back to 1658, and the database is updated annually. 

Sourced data is edited and proofread by a team of legal professionals with metadata for docket numbers, names, citations, dates, and other relevant information. Essentially, CAP does the heavy lifting for you. The database provides selectable OCR PDFs for efficient research.

2. FindLaw

Are you looking for the right Supreme Court verdict to support your case? Precision matters when it comes to legal research.

FindLaw was designed with the mission of making the law more accessible. As a result, it’s completely free to use. Browse case law from state and federal courts, peruse case summaries, locate statutes, and scope out the latest legal news. 

Users can browse by legal issue to turn general inquiries into focused results. FindLaw’s key feature is its robust database of U.S. Supreme Court decisions dating back to 1760. Easily browse by year or U.S. Reports volume number. You can also filter by party name, case title, citation, full text, and docket number. FindLaw also features an archive of Supreme Court opinion summaries since 2000 for legal reference.

Finally, FindLaw offers an extensive legal directory; you can create an attorney profile and increase your digital presence.

3. Fastcase

This database is one of the most reliable resources an attorney can bookmark. Fastcase ranks among the top online law libraries in the world. Through their innovative portal, lawyers gain online access to case law, statutes, regulations, constitutions, court rules, and law review articles – making legal research and analysis faster and easier.

Want to track your time, log billable hours, and seamlessly manage cases in one great organizational tool? Fastcase has streamlined integration via a robust case management system. Keep an accurate tally of your research time – every billable hour matters. If you’re on the go, you can access Fastcase through the mobile app for iOS and Android.

Fastcase also provides more perks and deals through state bar associations for discounts on premium research content. In fact, you may already have an all-access pass from paying your bar dues.

4. CourtListener

CourtListener is a unique addition to our top 7 list. This dynamic non-profit website allows users to search millions of opinions by case name, topic, and citation, across 400+ jurisdictions. 

As part of the Free Law Project, CourtListener provides free access to legal materials, research tools, and academic research. They work with volunteers to build an open-source, accessible legal research platform.

Listen to oral arguments and review statistics at a glance for Supreme Court decisions and more.

5. Justia

Justia is good for attorneys is many different areas of law, including personal injury, criminal, family, employment, business, immigration, and bankruptcy. You can browse state law and also find legal resources defining many complex topics and terms in the law. 

Justia offers cases from the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal, and U.S. District Courts. Links to many state supreme court and intermediate court of appeal cases are also available.  

You can find the following on Justia:

  • U.S. Supreme Court Opinions – 1791 to the present
  • U.S. Federal Appellate & District Court Opinions – 1924 to the present (may be expanded, based on the court)
  • Select U.S. Federal Appellate & District Court dockets and orders  – 2004 to the present (may be expanded, based on the court)
  • U.S. State Supreme & Appellate Court Opinions – 1992 to the present (may be expanded, based on the court)

Not sure what exactly you’re looking for? Simply type a keyword into the search bar and let Justia give you options.

As an attorney, you can create a profile on Justia as part of your legal marketing.

One of the oldest resources on our top 7 list, the Legal Information Institute (LII) is a non-profit run by Cornell Law School that features federal statutes, select international law, and definitions for common legal terms. It claims to have been the first law site on the internet. 

LII is peer reviewed and features top academic research on various legal topics and practices. It publishes regulations for all 50 U.S. states. You can also find the latest executive orders and breaking legal news.

LII’s legal collection is expansive; it is used by more than 32 million people in over 240 territories and countries. They’ve collaborated with legal scholars and organizations from four continents. 

7. Casetext

Casetext is a low-cost solution for law firms. While not technically free, the affordable price and time saved on research make this software well worth the investment. Think of Casetext as your very own digital paralegal. 

Powered by AI technology, Casetext’s smart search finds cases and authorities for you. Filter by legal issues and jurisdiction. The learning component means that Casetext will save your preferences and deliver custom-tailored recommendations for helpful statutes, case law, and more.

Easily drag and drop your legal briefs into Casetext’s AI-powered search (CARA) and let Casetext pull in your sources. This tool also acts as a backup to popular add-ons like Grammarly by going beyond the grammar to review your pleadings for committed cases.

Casetext comes highly reviewed by attorneys. Compared to ROSS, another popular budget-savvy AI database for legal research, Casetext wins in terms of speed, relevance, and efficiency. You can even take free webinars online at Casetext and continue to bolster your legal knowledge. Casetext offers discounts for former ROSS members who want to switch to a more focused database.

You’ll notice that some resources on our list, like FindLaw and Justia, combine resources for legal research with opportunities for legal marketing. Why? Because many people in need of legal help don’t start by searching for an attorney; they start by looking for answers to legal questions (usually on search engines). They then find an attorney through a secondary landing page, such as a blog or a legal directory.

LawRank can help you get in front of people searching for legal information online. We have a demonstrated history of helping law firms rank on the first page of search engines like Google. We can handle all aspects of your legal marketing, including website development, search engine optimization (SEO), and paid advertising. We can also take charge of your offsite marketing, which includes managing your legal directories and other online profiles.

Ready to learn more about how we can help? Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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