If you have not tried Google Scholar for your legal research needs, you should. This post will explain why—or fail trying.
1. It is free. We all like free research, right?
2. You can find federal and state cases with Google Scholar’s powerful search algorithm (similar to WestlawNext and Lexis Advance), and it will likely return relevant results even if you do not use the proper search terms. Its algorithm works best for issues that are commonly litigated.
3. You can limit your search results by keyword, date, and court (e.g., just the Seventh Circuit or just the Ohio Supreme Court).
4. It has a citator to find subsequent judicial opinions that have cited your case. And the results can be organized based on the extent that the citing cases discussed your case. Thus, you will immediately know which opinions did more than merely cite your case.
5. You can create citation alerts and have them delivered to your email.
6. Although Google Scholar has no database of legal articles, it provides links to articles hosted on other websites (e.g., the Social Science Research Network). But most of the links are to subscription services.
7. It is free. Did I mention that fact?
If Google Scholar is so wonderful, why is it free? The next post will discuss its limitations and why it will not put Westlaw or LexisNexis out of business any time soon.