Monday, March 14, 2011
Google Scholar provides free access to federal and state case law and to some legal journals. The advanced search feature allows a researcher to perform precise requests. For example, you can limit your search by jurisdiction, date, and also by author/journal. This is a tool that should be taught to law students so that they know there is more to legal research than Westlaw and LexisNexis. I encourage my students to always look at the advanced search features of any tool they are using, and Google Scholar is no exception. There are wonderful options in the advanced search screens and the search tips are very helpful. The Google Scholar Blog also provides useful tips.
A recent post on Future Lawyer, discusses the “How Cited” feature:
Google Scholar keeps surprising me. I discovered recently that, clicking the How Cited button on a case being searched brings up all instances in which the case has been cited by other cases in the jurisdiction, and gives short quotes from cases citing the case being researched, as well as related cases and documents, all with links to the full text of the cases.
I tried a quick test of the “How Cited” link by retrieving Bush v. Gore, 531 US 98. The “How Cited” link pulls up cases, articles, and treatises that have cited the Bush v. Gore decision. There are over 3700 citing documents for this case. Most documents can be retrieved directly through Google Scholar. For those not available, a citation is given so that cost-effective researchers could retrieve them from their library if they do not want to incur a Westlaw or LexisNexis charge. The “How Cited” tool makes researching in Google Scholar VERY valuable to attorneys looking to save money and I, for one, love teaching my students how to do that before they head out into the “real world”.