If you have spent at least 10 minutes reading my blog, then you know that I enjoy discussing free websites for legal research. Today, you will learn about a service that provides free case summaries.
I am sure that you have heard of FindLaw, but I bet you didn’t know that it summarizes federal appellate cases and cases from a few states (e.g., Florida and Texas). In its library, you can retrieve summaries of opinions from the United States Supreme Court dating from 2000 to the present and summaries of cases from all federal circuit courts dating from 2000 to 2011. Unfortunately, FindLaw no longer summarizes recent cases from the circuit courts.
Although I am pretty sure that FindLaw employs real humans to write its case summaries, I am not so sure whether those humans took a legal writing class beyond their 1L year. A sample (and unedited) summary is below. The entire summary—all 13 lines—is just one sentence long. As I tell my law students, never write a sentence that long.
One nifty feature is that you can search the full text of the case summaries and can limit your results by court, topic, and date. FindLaw has organized its case summaries by over 70 topics that range from administrative law, to labor and employment, to remedies.
- free research