There are a lot of great resources for primary law online, both free and fee. However, to get legal analysis and cutting edge thinking on current legal topics there are also some great resources for free online. Bar associations are a great source (of course!) but here are some others that have great content. You just have to know where to look.
Lexology (aka ACC Newstand) brings together articles submitted by major commercial law firms. Register and then search the site or set up custom RSS feeds to be delivered Outlook or your feed reader. International in scope, the topics tend to have a focus on business law issues.
International in scope, you will find the latest thinking on legal, accounting, regulatory and commercial issues supplied by the world’s leading professional advisors. Browse or you can search the database for articles by date, topic, firm, country, author, free text, etc.
Fee Fie Foe Firm
Fee Fie Foe Firm USA is a search engine that focuses on the websites of US law firms. Use the search box to search for legal experts, law firm bulletins, articles, press releases and more! Though it hasn’t been updated in quite some time, it is built on a Google Custom Search so as long as the law firms maintain their URLs then there is still value in this resource.
Free Full-Text Online Law Review/Journal Search
This free search engine from the ABA’s Legal Technology Resource Center searches the free full-text of over 400 online law reviews and law journals, as well as document repositories hosting academic papers and related publications such as Congressional Research Service reports. Several of the law reviews and legal journals (such as the Stanford Technology Law Review), working papers, and reports are available online only.
Blogs, or weblogs, are another way to get legal research information and current awareness. Many lawyers are blogging, providing commentary on practice area specific information. Some very good blogs provide legal research information and tips.
The legal profession has enthusiastically embraced blogging. Vast directories of legal-centric blogs have been compiled, including Justia’s Blawg Directory, and the ABA Journal Blawg Directory, which list blogs on topics ranging from administrative law to workers compensation and most everything in between. The ranks of lawyer bloggers now include prominent judges, numerous law professors, nationally-recognized appellate lawyers and entire practice groups. These directories allow users to search the blogs all at once, or drill down to practice areas.
Shared Content Sites
With the advent of Web 2.0, and the increasingly familiar and trusted experience of participation and sharing on the web through social media, shared content sites that allow end users to upload and share content, comment on other’s content, and gain recognition for contributions, has resulted in some very useful sites for lawyers.
Other sites, such as Scribd, SlideShare, and DocStoc, let users upload documents and slide presentations. Many companies, individuals, and law firms upload information to share on these sites, making them a goldmine for information that an entity may, or may not know, is being shared publically.
Among other things, JD Supra allows lawyers and legal professionals to upload representative documents – briefs, articles, presentations, etc. to be freely shared – and searched. Large firms such as Bryan Cave and Fenwick & West, as well as many others, submit content.
SSRN (Social Science Research Network)
The Social Science Research Network contains vast amounts of scholarly articles, from law, accounting, corporate, political science and much more. Scholars and academics submit research articles to SSRN before they go through peer review and the formal publishing process. This means the articles are often not the final version, but they are made available much faster than the traditional publishing procedure allows. Users can hone in on just legal articles, some articles are available only in abstract.