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THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF LEGAL JOBS ON EARTH

LawCrossing General Counsel Consulting Career Feature

Low-Cost or Free Online Legal Research Resources Often in small firms, corporate counsels have to handle a multitude of tasks and not all businesses can afford the costs of WestLaw or Lexis-Nexis. Such a situation leaves corporate counsel constrained to do research at their own cost and fumbling to manage. Many a time, only a single account is arranged by the company making it difficult to allow concurrent access of online research to other staff and reducing productivity. Since the responsibility of doing the legal research is ultimately that of the corporate counsel it is immensely helpful to be aware of certain online resources that are truly useful and mostly free. This article mentions a few of the online resources and tools we have found useful when unable to access commercial databases.

Google Patents: (http://www.google.com/

PACER (http://www.pacer.gov/): The Public Access to

?tbm=pts&hl=en) For those in Intellectual property

Court Electronic Records has recently increased fees

law, Google Patents is an excellent resource for finding

to $.10 per page of access. Though this rate is many

information. To narrow down your search, try the

times higher than the actual costs to run the system, it

Advanced Patent Search at http://www.google.com/

is still many times lower than commercial alternatives.

advanced_patent_search. Resource.org: This non-profit works with other The Federal Register (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/

organizations and Princeton to make legal documents

browse/collection.action?collectionCode=FR): Run by

and court records available to the public. The website

the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives

also has services like streaming media access to the

and Records Administration (NARA), this is the official

House of Representatives, and other facilities that

publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of

would charm you.

Federal agencies and organizations. The Federal Register provides access to all executive orders and presidential

This list would hardly be complete without mention

documents on top of bare Acts and Statutes.

of The Internet Archive which is a non-profit and the people who conceived The Wayback Machine. Unless

Google Scholar and Google Books: No need to

you use it, you wouldn’t know what you had been

consider these resources separately, both the Google

missing.

Scholar and Google Books provide excellent search facilities and access to documents and books of various

There is a great chance that you already know of

types on relevant subjects. You can find court cases

these resources, but there is a greater chance that as

just by entering the name of the lawsuit in most cases.

a corporate counsel, you have never felt the need to use free and independent resources. Giving them a

Cornell Legal Information Institute (http://www.

try and learning your way around can sometimes yield

law.conell.edu): A treasure house on Federal law,

better results than relying solely on commercial law

including Federal Rules, Code of Federal Regulations,

databases. Anyway cross-verification of information

the U.S. Code, uniform model laws etcetera. There are

is written into the bones of every good lawyer and

topical sections and blogs on particular subjects as well

familiarity with alternative resources of information can

as scholarly documents. Cornell also provides state-

always come in handy.

specific information including state-wise judicial and legislative documents.

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Low-Cost or Free Online Legal Research Resources