Readers of this blog may recall a post from 2009 regarding the requirement by some major law firms that all preliminary legal research be performed using LOISlaw or some other inexpensive search engine. See this blog post for another take on the problem. This is not a dead issue. Many major firms are still requiring the use of an "alternate" legal search system before using the much more expensive Westlaw or Lexis.
Fortunately, there are at least four full text legal search engines available for you to use for FREE.
1. As long as you are a UConn law student you can use LOISlaw for free from anywhere. Just find the link on the Library's home page. Follow the link from the right column to LOISlaw. You will be asked to authenticate using your UConn netid and password. Once you're in you will find one of the best "alternative" legal search engines. This one comes from Wolters-Kluwer, the publishers of the Aspen treatises. Our subscription allows UConn students to use full text searching for primary law in all 50 states and the federal courts. You can search for statutes, cases, and regulations for free. Use the LOISlaw search tips to help you build a Boolean search.
2. All UConn law JD candidate students are eligible for FREE membership in the Connecticut Bar Association. Your membership in the CT Bar entitles you to use Casemaker for FREE. Casemaker is another of the best "alternative" legal search engines. Casemaker is provided by many bar associations throughout the United States as a benefit to their members. Again, this is an excellent way to use full text searching to find primary law. All you need do is to register with the CT Bar.
3. You can use LexisOne to search for case law for free. Again, all you need to do is to register. There are limits on what you can search and how far you can go without paying a fee. There is still no free search for statutes, regulations, or secondary sources. Still, if you like using Lexis you can use LexisOne to begin your search for free and then pay for the extras.
4. Finally, you can search for legal opinions and articles on the newly popular and somewhat controversial Google Scholar. Look to this blog for a post about the pros and cons of searching on Google Scholar. One problem with Google Scholar is that there is still no way to search for statutes or regulations.