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Free & Low Cost Legal Research

About This Guide

This guides identifies resources for free or low cost legal research, providing a great way to get started with research if you don't have access to paid databases or if you want to get an overview of a topic before using potentially expensive searches.

Other Free & Low-Cost Legal Research Guides

Link Rot

Watch for link rot (when web pages go missing). 

If a web page goes missing, try referring to the following resources:

Wayback Machine (via the Internet Archive):  The Internet Archive Wayback Machine puts the history of the World Wide Web at your fingertips. The Archive contains over 100 terabytes and 10 billion web pages archived from 1996 to the present.

Cyber CemeteryThe CyberCemetery is an archive of government websites (usually defunct government agencies) that have ceased operation. 

 

Site Evaluation

When conducting legal research on the Internet, it is important to evaluate the source of the information you intend to rely on. 

Accuracy & Authority

When evaluating a site for accuracy, look at the source of the material:

  • Who is the author or publisher? 
  • What are the author's credentials?
  • Look at the general accuracy of the site, e.g. does it have obvious errors, is it professionally made, etc.

When evaluating the authority of a site:

  • What is the domain name of the site?  Is the website part of a governmental entity, educational, or non-profit organization?
  • Look for "authenticating" indicia, e.g., the GPO Blue Eagle.
  • Is there an "about us" or similar section?  If yes, what does it say?
  • Check for any "disclaimer."
  • Is the site neutral or does it take or support a particular position?  For example, check out the Institute for Historical Review on Wikipedia!

Be sure to verify the information you intend to rely upon.  Check the authorities cited or linked to and search for the same information in other sources. 

Currency & Coverage

  • When was the site last updated?
  • How often is the site updated?
  • What time period does the source cover?  What jurisdiction?

Tools To Aid in Your Evaluation

  • Use common sense!

  • Evaluate the importance of the research you are conducting to help determine how careful you should be when assessing the accuracy of a site.

  • Discover more about the website you are viewing, including who owns the site, utilizing:  Better Whois

Contact the Library

The Mendik Library | New York Law School
185 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013
 
Contact Information:  Circulation | 212.431.2333 
 Reference Desk | 212.431.2332 | SMS: 917.300.1933

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