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WVCLE: Legal Research in 2020: An update on research tools and strategies for litigation


Free sources for legal information online

  • A compilation of annotated links to sources online.
  • Does not host the full-text of sources.

  • Well organized and will lead to reliable sources for full text.
  • Law Library of Congress has done the vetting of the sources for you.

  • officially replaced FDsys in December 2018.
  • Source for authenticated digital copies of federal statutes, regulations, and some federal case law.

  • Adopts the "global search bar" of most major search platforms.
  • Best search strategy is the use the advanced search function.

  • Maintained by the "Free Law Project".
  • Content comes from court websites.
  • Terms and connectors search functionality.

  • 30 minute time delay from court website to Court Listener.
  • "Citator" not comparable to KeyCite or Shepard's.


  • Mostly known for making codes available. Library is expanded to C.F.R. and SCOTUS opinions.
  • Not a very good source of state law.
  • Content hyperlinked
  • Best search strategy is to browse rather than search.


  • A specialized search engine that indexes case law on the web.
  • Indexing court websites and other similar sources.
  • Does not have advanced search tools.
  • Identifies subsequently cited cases but is not a citator.


Incorporating free sources into a research strategy