Tuesday, December 30, 2014
At the Student Lawyer, Librarian and Professor Catherine Dunn offers advice on getting free and low cost legal research. Not all platforms are of the same quality. She gets down to specifics:
A selection of free legal resources law librarians traditionally recommend include Google Scholar (for case law and secondary source materials), GPO FDsys (for federal legal materials), Congress.gov (for federal legislative history materials), and the Legal Information Institute (for federal and state legal materials).
If you simply cannot afford access to a high-cost research platform, but you do not feel comfortable relying exclusively on free resources for your research, your next best bet is a low-cost platform. These resources are more comprehensive than free sites, and they have more sophisticated search engines and research tools available, but they do not include the full set of content and features available via the high-cost platforms.
The four main platforms in the low-cost market are Fastcase, Casemaker, Loislaw, and VersusLaw. Casemaker and Fastcase, in particular, surged in popularity after aligning themselves with state and local bar associations—nearly every state bar has one of the two as a member benefit—and the cost to subscribe to any of these platforms is a small fraction of the most expensive legal research platforms.
You can read more here.