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Free Legal Research Resources: Starting Points

Starting Your Research

When starting legal research, there are several questions to be considered.  Is your issue state or federal?  Is the matter civil or criminal? The answers to these questions will impact where you look for your information. 

Another major question is whether the matter is one of primary authority or secondary authorityPrimary Authority is what attorneys cite in legal documents, usually cases, statutes, or regulations.  Secondary authority explains and cites to primary authority, usually journal articles, legal books or treatises, legal encyclopedias, etc. 

You may wish to go to a law library and consult a reference librarian to obtain background information on your issue.  This guide provides links to free, useful legal research tools and databases on the web.

Legal Citation Finder

The Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute Legal Citation Finder Bookmarklet allows you to add the citation finder to your favorites and then highlight a legal citation on any subsequent web page to search for it.

Florida Law Self-Help

Florida Law Help is a website with free resources to guide you in dealing with many areas of Florida law. It includes written and video guides, created by attorneys. Information is available in English, Spanish and Creole.

Policy/Issues

Free Online Reference Service