News and information useful to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law students, faculty and staff.

Archive for the ‘Free Web Research’

Free Online Research Tools: Congressional Research Service Reports

US Capitol Building illuminated at night The Library of Congress announced on September 17, 2018 that a new website is now live, making reports from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) available to the public. The CRS is Congress’ nonpartisan “think tank” that conducts research and publishes reports for Congressional committees and Members of Congress. The experts and researchers at CRS provide analysis of an extensive range of topics. The thorough and nonpartisan nature of CRS reports makes them a valuable source on important and current topics for anybody, including legal researchers. CRS reports can be useful for legislative history research because they provide unbiased background information from a legislative perspective on issues before Congress.

Despite the fact that CRS reports are taxpayer funded, these reports were only made available to legislators. Some reports eventually made their way out to the public, if a congressional staffer chose to share. Recently, efforts had been made to make more reports widely available to the public with websites such as working to collect and share over 14,500 CRS reports. The new website from the Library of Congress serves as an official source of CRS reports, with over 600 of the active reports available at launch and more being added over time. Users may enter keywords to search the database or browse the index by clicking the search button without entering terms.

For more on legislative history or additional law and policy sources, check out our Legislative History Research Guide and Free Online Legal Research Guide.

Free Online Research Tools: CourtListener Adds Docket Alert Feature

image of an alarm clock On Tuesday, August 21, 2018, the Free Law Project announced the addition of PACER Docket Alerts on The alerts are available via RECAP, the Free Law Project’s archive of PACER docket information and court documents. To set up alerts, find the docket you want to follow in RECAP and click the “Get Alert” button located under the case name. Alerts are sent via email every time the docket has a new entry.

For more background, check out this post about CourtListener and this post about RECAP.

Checkout Casetext: Free Online Legal Research

casetext logoCasetext is one of a growing number of free online sources for legal research. Developed by attorneys, data scientists, and engineers, Casetext offers free access to over 10 million cases, statutes, and regulations, plus articles and commentary from leading litigators. Coverage includes all United States Supreme Court decisions, Circuit Court and District Court decisions from 1925-present, all State Supreme and Appellate Courts decisions from 1950-present (including Ohio), federal statutes and regulations, and statutes from selected states (not including Ohio). To access the free database, enter search terms in the search box at the top of the page, then use the filters on the left-hand side to narrow the results.

When accessing court opinions, several features are included for free. Casetext shows negative treatment flags, key passages that highlight the most cited and discussed passages of your case, summaries from subsequent cases showing how your case fits into a legal argument, and insights from experts commentary from litigators and/or law professors.

Additional features are available for a fee. Casetext also offers CARA, a subscription-based research tool that uses machine learning and AI to assist with your legal research. For example, paying users can upload briefs, memos, and other legal documents, and CARA will find relevant cases, statutes, and regulations.

The Importance of Grit

According to the Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, grit (in terms of behavior) is defined as “firmness of mind or spirit: unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.”

Today in our weekly Monday Message from Dean Lee Fisher, he quoted a C|M|Law alumnus on the concept of grit. At last week’s Cleveland-Marshall Law Alumni Association (CMLAA) Annual Meeting, outgoing President Tim Collins ’85 passed the gavel to new President Judge Michelle Paris ’84.   In her first speech as President, Judge Paris stated: “My journey has been a combination of grit…and gratitude. I am very grateful for the night program that allowed me to work and go to school. In the night program I was surrounded by people with grit – working, studying, trying to cross the finish line.”

Most people probably know they have to fight through adversity to reach goals. But the question sometimes is: how can I display grit? The American Bar Association has a Grit Project Program Toolkit that may be of use to students and practicing lawyers alike. The toolkit contains reading resources, tests, and quizzes on grit, as well as video scenarios to assist in developing a grit mindset.

Dead or Broken Link? The Wayback Machine Can Help

Have you ever come across a link for something interesting and been disappointed because the document is not found when you click on it? We at C|M|Law Library have had this happen several times of late working with patrons—one time a student was trying to cite check a law review article and another a patron was looking for a document cited in the Federal Register.

Websites change often and sometimes in the process of changing they may no longer have the information that the website once displayed. Link rot is a term sometimes used to apply to these situations where hyperlinks point to web pages, servers, or other resources that have become permanently unavailable. In these cases, The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine may be able to help. The Internet Archive is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “universal access to all knowledge.” The Internet Archive has numerous books (visual and audio), music, documentaries, and music among other things, including the Wayback Machine. The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web and other information on the Internet. Simply paste your URL into the Wayback Machine and it will reveal its content as it existed on certain days in the past.