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Law: US Law

How to find law reports, journal articles and other sources of legal information

Finding US legal material at Queen's

Although focused primarily on UK law, Lexis+ , vLex Justis and Westlaw do offer some US content (these resources are for use only by current Queen's University Belfast students and staff)

  • Lexis + : from the Lexis+ homepage, select International > United States
  • vLex Justis: from vLex Justis homepage go to Advanced Search > Select more jurisdictions and select United States. You may also Browse by jurisdiction and court
  • Westlaw : from the Westlaw homepage go to More resources > Westlaw US


A lot of US legal material may be found freely online. Some useful sources are listed in the boxes below.

Find Law

FindLaw offers a database of case law from the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal, as well as several state supreme courts. FindLaw's content includes:

  • U.S. Supreme Court Opinions
  • U.S. Supreme Court Center - includes Court opinions and a blog regarding recent Supreme Court events
  • U.S. Federal Appellate Court Opinions
  • U.S. State Supreme, Appellate and Trial Court Opinions

FindLaw has two primary ways to access the collection of case law. Researchers can either (1) run a search for case summaries, or (2) select a jurisdiction to browse applicable laws (scroll down to click on a jurisdiction).

Court Listener

CourtListener (USA) is a free legal research website containing millions of legal opinions from federal and state courts & is maintained by the Free Law Project.


Justia US Law offers free access to federal and state court decisions, codes, and regulations to understand your rights and your responsibilities when facing a variety of everyday legal issues and problems.

Case.Law Access Project (CAP) 1658 to 2018 (USA)

Case.Law Access Project (CAP) 1658 to 2018 (USA) holds open access material from Harvard University Law Library. "Case metadata, such as the case name, citation, court, date, etc., is freely and openly accessible without limitation. Full case text can be freely viewed or downloaded but you must register for an account to do so, and currently you may view or download no more than 500 cases per day. In addition, research scholars can qualify for bulk data access by agreeing to certain use and redistribution restrictions. You can request a bulk access agreement by creating an account and then visiting your account page."

"Our goal is to make all published U.S. court decisions freely available to the public online, in a consistent format, digitized from the collection of the Harvard Law School Library."

LII: Legal Information Institute (Cornell)

LII: Legal Information Institute (Cornell) provides free open access to US Federal and State case law and legislation, coverage includes Supreme Court decisions from 1990, legislation, and also the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

Google Scholar

Google Scholar offers an extensive database of state and federal cases, including:

  • U.S. Supreme Court Opinions
  • U.S. Federal District, Appellate, Tax, and Bankruptcy Court Opinions
  • U.S. State Appellate and Supreme Court Opinions
  • Scholarly articles, papers, and reports
  • Patents: U.S. Patents; European Patent Office and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Patents

To get started, click on the link above, select the “case law” radio button, and choose your search terms.

Click here to access a legal research tutorial on how to use Google Scholar to access case law

Court documents and transcripts

Court documents other than case law are often tricky to find. This difficulty usually stems from court file privacy restrictions, archiving practices from the pre-internet time, transcription costs, and lack of availability: there may simply be no transcripts available in the court record. 

Online access to court documents is however improving and some content is now free online:


govinfo (USA)

govinfo (USA) is the official website of US Government Printing Office (GPO). govinfo replaced the Federal Digital System FDsys website in December 2018. Contents include: 

Budget of the U.S. Government
Coastal Zone Information Center Collection
Code of Federal Regulations
Commerce Business Daily
Compilation of Presidential Documents
Congressional Bills
Congressional Calendars
Congressional Committee Prints
Congressional Directory
Congressional Documents
Congressional Hearings
Congressional Record
Congressional Record (Bound Edition)
Congressional Record Index
Congressional Reports
Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation
Economic Indicators
Economic Report of the President
Education Reports from ERIC
Federal Register
GAO Reports and Comptroller General Decisions
History of Bills
House Rules and Manual
Journal of the House of Representatives
List of CFR Sections Affected
Precedents of the U.S. House of Representatives
Privacy Act Issuances
Public and Private Laws
Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States
Riddick's Senate Procedure
Senate Manual
Serial Set
Statute Compilations
Statutes at Large
Supreme Court Decisions
Unified Agenda
United States Code
United States Courts Opinions
United States Government Manual

Encylopedias and dictionaries

Cornell LII's Wex is a free, collaboratively-authored legal encyclopedia. Most articles point you to key statutes and cases on a topic. 

For US legal definitions, try the dictionaries Cornell LII's WEX Legal Lexicon, or Nolo's free legal dictionary.

Open Textbook Library: law

Open Textbook Library: Law holds open access content licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (unless otherwise stated) 

The Open Education Network is based in the Center for Open Education in the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development.