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No-Cost and Low-Cost U.S. Legal Research

  • Alison Shea

When faced with a U.S. legal research question, what options does the non-U.S. based researcher have, short of purchasing a subscription to one of the fee-based databases or visiting a major research library? This article will briefly discuss a number of no-cost and low-cost resources in the context of the process required to perform U.S. legal research and will also provide explanations of the different types of primary sources that a legal researcher might encounter.

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1 Special thanks to my colleague, Larry Abraham, for this extended metaphor.

3 Copyright Office Circulars:

4 Google Books:

5 Example of Google Books search for secondary source information: and+lighter&tbm=bks&tbo=1

6 Georgetown Law Library's research guide collection:

7 List of U.S.C. subject titles:

8 Title 52, Voting and Elections; Title 53, Small Business; Title 54, National Park System; Title 55, Environment. See here for more information on these proposed titles:

9 For more information on the Office, consult their website:

11 XML version of the U.S.C.:

12 Cornell LII version of the U.S.C.:

13 Popular Name tables can be found from the Office of Law Revision Counsel:, and through Cornell Legal Information Institute:

22 Titles are revised and updated sequentially: titles 1–16 are republished every year on January 1; titles 17–27 on April 1; titles 28–41 on July 1, and titles 42–50 on October 1.

24 Cornell LII's version of the CFR:

25 Consult USA gov's list of US Agencies and Departments:

26 See, for example, the EPA's Laws and Regulations page:

31 not only provides text of the Federal Register but also allows users to track, review and submit comments on proposed rules that are open to comment; allows you to locate all related documentation to a single rule by searching the rule's docket number:

32 Google Scholar: (be sure to select “Legal Opinions”)

33 Court websites can be identified using the following site:

34 Prices for KeyCiting vary

37 Google Scholar:

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Legal Information Management
  • ISSN: 1472-6696
  • EISSN: 1741-2021
  • URL: /core/journals/legal-information-management
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