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Free Online Legal Research

This guide includes resources and tips to do online legal research for free.

Case Law

Case law can often be found on court websites, but for comprehensive searching, try the following resources.

Oral Arguments

Dockets & Briefs

Federal dockets and briefs are perhaps the most difficult things to obtain online without cost.  PACER, the online access for electronic court records, can be expensive, as users are charged $0.10 per page.  PACER’s fee schedule explains how fees are charged for searching and retrieving dockets and records.  Efforts to make PACER free have been considered by Congress, but have not been enacted yet.

The RECAP the Law Project uses a browser extension to collect documents from PACER users and place those documents into a searchable archive in order to facilitate free public access.  The archive is somewhat limited, but searching the RECAP archive first may save you from paying for documents in PACER.  The browser extension also alerts users if documents that they find on PACER are available in the RECAP archive so that they can choose to download the free version.  You can also set up free PACER docket alerts using RECAP, which will send you an email whenever a new filing is available in a case.

Court Rules

Court Forms

Court Information