Online Legal Research

Online Legal Research

Online Legal Research Tools

Online tools include:

Free Online Legal Research Sources

Search engines

There are several general search engines on the Internet that you can use to locate sites of interest.

  • Google is the favourite of most general searchers because Size not disclosed in any way that allows comparison. Probably the biggest.of its consistent success at generating results lists with the highest quality sites at the top of the list. Although you can just type words in, try search operator in the Google Cheatsheet and the Google Advanced Operators page.
  • To improve your searching on Google, check out Google Search Education.
  • Google alone is not always sufficient, however. Not everything on the Web is fully searchable in Google. Overlap studies show that more than 80% of the pages in a major search engine’s database exist only in that database. For this reason, getting a “second opinion”can be worth your time. For this purpose, we recommend DuckDuckGo, Yahoo! Search, Bing or Exalead. We do not recommend using meta-search engines as your primary search tool.

Finding legal information

Legal research on the Internet is best conducted using specialized sites with legal content, rather than conducting searches of the web using a general search engine such as Google. The leading worldwide free site is WorldLII. This is a collection of the case law and legislation from all Canadian jurisdictions, with several value-added features. DRAGNET stands for “Database Retrieval Access using Google’s New Electronic Technology”a specialized search engine that was developed by the library staff at the New York Law School.
It includes:

ABA Family Legal Guide
American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
American Memory Project American Law
American Society of International Law
Amnesty International
Australasian Legal Information Institute
Avalon Project
Bills and Laws of New York
British and Irish Legal Information Institute
Bureau of Economic Analysis
Bureau of Justice Statistics
Canadian Legal Information Institute
Center for World Indigenous Studies
Central Intelligence Agency
City Council of New York
Code of Federal Regulations
Connecticut State Government
Constitution Finder
Cornell Legal Information Institute (LII)
Council of Europe
Council of State Governments

EISIL (International Law)
FDsys – Government Printing Office
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority
Founders Constitution
Global Legal Information Network
Government Attic
Harvard Law School Library
Hieros Gamos
Human Rights First
Human Rights Library
Human Rights Watch
Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties
International Justice Resource Center
International Labour Organization
International Trade Centre
Law Library of Congress
Legal Resource Exchange (LLRX)
LexisNexis Communities
Maastricht Internet Law Library
Making of America
Migration Information Source
Multistate Tax Commission
The National Archives (NARA)
National Association of Secretaries of State
National Center for State Courts
National Bureau of Economic Research
National Conference of State Legislatures
National Indian Law Library
National Law Center for Inter-American Free Trade
New Jersey Digital Legal Library
New Jersey Judiciary
New Jersey Legislature
New York Senate
New York State Assembly
New York State Association of Counties
New York State Attorney General’s Opinions
New York State Bar Association
New York State Division of Administrative Rules
New York State Housing Division
New York State Unified Court System
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
Policy Archive
Public Library of Law
Red Cross
South African Legal Information Institute
Stanford Securities Class Action Clearinghouse
Tax Administrators
Uniform Law Commission
United Nations
United Nations Human Rights
UN Refugee Agency
U.S. Congress Joint Committee on Taxation
U.S. Department of Justice
U.S. Department of the Treasury
U.S. Federal Statistics
U.S. Government Regulations
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Internal Revenue Service
U.S. Senate
U.S. State Department
U.S. Supreme Court
Universal Human Rights Index
University of Maryland Thurgood Marshall Center
WashLaw (Washburn University)
Women’s Legal Initiative
World Legal Information Institute

Some courts prevent their judgments from being indexed by general search engines for privacy reasons, so decisions of those courts will not be located in a Google search. In addition, decisions on CanLII are not indexed by general search engines. As a result, a general search engine will not retrieve this type of legal information. Furthermore, the scope and currency of the indexed content will be uncertain if you use a general search engine.

Despite these drawbacks, you may find it worthwhile to augment your legal research with some searches in a general search engine to locate material such as law firm newsletters, company information, news articles, blog posts, government publications and Google book search results that pertain to your research.

The Invisible Web

It is estimated that search engines currently locate approximately 20 billion pages, but that the “invisible”web contains around 900 billion pages. Deep Web Research and Discovery Resources 2013 provides a bibliography of resources that discuss how to access online information that the current search engines either cannot find or have difficulty accessing, and provides links to research tools.


Blogs are websites containing a series of postings. They range from personal musings to the views of experts in a particular area. The latter type of blog is useful for keeping current on specialized topics. Individuals can often contribute their views by posting comments in response to blog entries.

A good search engine for the general universe of blogs is Technorati. Another option is Google’s blog search. To restrict your search to legal blogs, use BlawgSearch. In addition to being searchable, BlawgSearch has a directory with categories.

RSS feeds

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.

Use of RSS may include:

Current Awareness – Surfing your favourite websites, newspapers & blogs is a waste of time. Smart firms & lawyers need to automate web content to come to them via RSS. These personalized collections can then be customized (through mixing and filtering) to only deliver the content that matches a lawyers’ interests.

Case Law & Legislative Changes – The importance of RSS notification for new & changing legislation cannot be underestimated. Nor can receiving the newest judgement just minutes after it has been published on a Court’s website. In the future, searches on those websites will, via RSS, enable us to receive exactly the legislation and topical cases we desire. I also expect these applications may be coming sooner than most firms are anticipating

Publications like, Jurist Paper Chase, and the ABA’s Law Practice Today have RSS feeds.

It allows you to receive information feeds from various Internet sources so that you don’t have to visit individual sites to obtain the information. To use RSS, you need to subscribe to an RSS feed. You can subscribe using an RSS reader, such as Feedly, or subscribe to receive feeds in your email program.


A wiki is a website that is created collaboratively using software that allows individuals to add and edit content. One of the best known research sites created this way is Wikipedia. Just as when evaluating the content on web sites, care must be taken when relying on content published in a wiki.

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