Finding case law for free using Google Scholar

You might know that you can search for law journal articles for free on Google Scholar. Did you know that you can use Google Scholar to search for case law as well? It’s a great alternative to subscription databases such as Westlaw and Lexis.

To search for cases visit the Google Scholar homepage at scholar.google.com and select the button for “Legal Documents” (located just underneath the search bar).

If you know the name of a case relevant to your research, one strategy to search for other cases is to type in the case name, for example “Brown v. Board of Education”:

Search results will include not only the text of the opinion but also related case citations and cases and articles that have cited your case.  For example, in our “Brown v. Board of Education” search, at the bottom of the first result we can see that there have been over 33,000 (!) citations to that case.  A menu in the left-hand column allows you to limit search results by date or by court.

Within the text of the opinion, Google Scholar helpfully provides other features and information, such as pagination and links to footnotes & cited cases:

An excerpt from Brown v. Board of Education as displayed in Google Scholar, showing page numbers (e.g.:*491, *492), links to cited cases, and links to case footnotes.

This is only a brief introduction to case law searching capabilities on Google Scholar.  We encourage you to try out the site for yourself. If you have more questions about searching on Google Scholar, contact a reference librarian. For other non-subscription case law research sources, check out the Law Library’s research guide on Federal and State Court Cases on the Internet.