Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Legal Research Guide for Public Patrons: Law-Specific Databases

The purpose of this LibGuide is to provide legal resources for individuals without any formal legal training.

Understanding and Accessing Legal Databases

On this page, you will find both free and subscription legal databases. Free databases are convenient because they are open access, but the subscription databases provide more detailed and comprehensive coverage of the law. Although the subscription databases are often associated with high costs, be sure to contact your local law library to see if you can visit and access these databases using public terminals. You can also contact local private law libraries to inquire about retrieving information from these databases.

Free Databases

FindLaw: This resource provides access to the U.S. Constitution, U.S. Courts of Appeals opinions, state resources, and more. The website states that it is "for legal professionals," but a basic understanding of the U.S. legal system will provide users with sufficient tools to navigate this resource.

govinfo: This is a government resource that contains the United States Code, the Code of Federal Regulations, the Federal Register, and more. Government resources in general are an excellent place to begin your research because they are free to the public and often regularly updated.

Justia: This is a resource that is one of the largest free online databases of law and cases. In addition to statutes and cases, Justia contains legal guides and forms. The homepage also contains links to public interest and pro bono projects.

Legal Information Institute (LII): This is a resource sponsored by Cornell Law School. Users can access the United States Code, state law resources, Supreme Court cases, and more. Resources within the LII website are often included at the top of search results when users search up legal questions. This is a great resource for nonlawyers to learn more about the law in an accessible way.

Subscription Databases

DISCLAIMER: There are certain access limitations for the following subscription databases. Mercer Law Library may not have access to all content found on these databases.

Bloomberg Law: This database contains a variety of legal materials. In addition to resources that can be found online (like the United States Code, Bloomberg also contains federal and state court decisions. Bloomberg is an excellent resource for people interested in tax or administrative law.

HeinOnline: This database holds a collection of legal periodicals, treaties and agreements, and more. This is an excellent resource for locating both current and older statutes.

Lexis+: This database contains a variety of legal materials. In addition to resources that can be found online (like the United States Code), Lexis also contains federal and state court decisions. Lexis has unique features, such as "Legal Trail," which help users locate similar passages in different court cases.

Nexis Uni: This database contains news, business resources, and legal sources. This databases is similar to Lexis+, but not as involved.

RIA via Thomson Reuters: This database contains various materials relating to tax law, including tax codes, regulations, cases, tax journals, and more. It focuses mainly on areas like estates, pensions and benefits, and accounting.

Supreme Court Yearbook: This database provides detailed explanations of every decision by the Supreme Court of the United States since 1989. This coverage includes case summaries, essays on significant cases, discussion of trends, voting patterns of justices, and more.

Westlaw: This database contains a variety of legal materials. In addition to resources that can be found online (like the United States Code), Westlaw also contains federal and state court decisions. Westlaw has a resource called "Practical Law," which has a variety of useful legal forms and templates. These templates are useful for things like lease agreements and employment contracts.

Mercer University Law LibraryMercer University School of Law  |  Non-Discrimination Policy  |   ABA Required Disclosures  | Contact Site Administrator 
Mercer University School of Law - 1021 Georgia Avenue Macon, GA 31207 | 478-301-2605 |  All rights reserved.