This guide covers selected resources available to Fordham Law alumni that can be considered alternatives to Westlaw and Lexis. While there is no exact replica, we have ordered this list from most comprehensive to least in terms of the amount of materials.
*Sources denoted with * are only available in-person at the Law Library's public computers. Find our policies for alumni here, and contact us with any access questions.
Fastcase is a low-cost alternative to Westlaw/Lexis and is often a benefit of bar memberships. This database is a comprehensive online law library with all federal cases going back to 1754 (1 U.S. 1, 1 F.2d 1, 1 F.Supp. 1, and B.R. 1), as well as state and appellate cases for all 50 states going back to 1950 or earlier, statutes, regulations, court rules, constitutions, access to a newspaper archive, and legal forms.
HeinOnline's major strength lies in its secondary sources, government documents, and deep historical coverage. It contains a large collection of law journals; the Restatements from the American Law Institute; and the United States Code, the Code of Federal Regulations, and the Federal Register going back to their very first volumes. While it does offer historical cases and statutes for states, the only current set of state laws for all 50 states are found in the Session Laws Library, which prints legislative acts in date order. As for cases, it has some historical coverage for states, the official case reports of the U.S. Supreme Court, and links through to Fastcase for more extensive and modern case law coverage.
This site, frequently called Cornell LII, offers all opinions of the United States Supreme Court handed down since 1992, together with over 600 earlier decisions selected for their historic importance, over a decade of opinions of the New York Court of Appeals, and the full United States Code and Code of Federal Regulations. It also publishes important secondary sources: libraries in two important areas (legal ethics and social security); and a series of “topical” pages that serve as concise explanatory guides and Internet resource listings for roughly 100 areas of law.
GovInfo provides public access to official publications in PDF from all three branches of the federal government. A product of the U.S. Government Publishing Office, it is a better resource for final versions of statutes, regulations, and some Congressional documents. Because it contains the authoritative and official version of the documents, you will see this website discussed in many guides on low cost/free research, but if you are researching a topic more broadly, for regulations you should start on the eCFR and the Federal Register's website; if you are focusing on federal legislation and congressional materials, start on Congress.Gov.
Casetext is a database of federal and state case law, statutes, and regulations, as well as federal briefs and attorney legal analyses. The Casetext artificial intelligence tool CARA finds cases on the same facts, legal issues, and jurisdiction as a brief or memo uploaded to the platform. (Tip: Remember the saying "garbage in, garbage out" - to use this AI tool to its full potential, make sure you are uploading a well-researched document.) This website is free, but you must register with your @law.fordham account to have access.
CourtListener is an open-access, open-source database by the Free Law Project. It primarily contains case law from federal and state courts and holds over two million opinions. For full coverage details on federal and state courts, see their Coverage page. Each case is displayed in a user-friendly format and has a list of subsequent citations, authorities cited within, and cases on similar topics. In addition to cases, this source contains some oral arguments for the U.S. Supreme Court and federal circuits; it also holds the RECAP archive, which contains millions of documents from PACER, making it a great place to search for court filings.
Google Scholar allows you to search and read opinions for U.S. state appellate and supreme court cases since 1950; U.S. federal district, appellate, tax and bankruptcy courts since 1923; and U.S. Supreme Court cases since 1791. Cases are cited in Bluebook format, include internal page numbers, and are cross-linked within the database. The service crawls other free case law providers and provides links to cases on these sites. In addition to case law, Google Scholar also searches secondary sources, such as law reviews and journals; these are often short summaries rather than full text access, so if you hit a paywall, try searching for the article on the Law Library's website.
Check with your state bar association to see which products are offered to members; you may be able to use one of the fee-based services for free, or have the opportunity to purchase access at a savings. For local practitioners, the New York Bar Association offers NY materials on Fastcase free, the NYC Bar Association offers Fastcase and a few other services, and the New Jersey Bar Association provides free access to the complete New Jersey law library on Fastcase. For practitioners in other jurisdictions, check out this blog listing all state bar associations and the resources they provide.
Researchers should know that some subjects already have specific databases that are generally better for research than the standard databases, many of which may be available to you in-person on the Law Library's public computers -- for example, Legislative Insight for federal legislative history documents, Kluwer Competition for antitrust, and RIA Checkpoint for tax. Ask a librarian for resource recommendations or browse our databases list by subject. For alum, most of these are only available on the law library's public computers - you can reach out to confirm access.
Many law libraries are open to the public and provide access to legal materials in print or online databases not available to the public at Fordham Law. If you are in New York, check out this list of public law libraries from the state's court system. To find more information on local libraries generally and to see resources specific to each state, look at this guide, Local Law Libraries.
For help accessing these titles, please contact a reference librarian at email@example.com, via chat, or by calling 212 636 6908.