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Levin College of Law

Conducting Legal Research

Resources and tips for conducting legal research .

Why alternative resources?

Alternative research resources should be used as a starting point before moving into subscription databases such as Westlaw or Lexis. For those who do not have access to Westlaw or Lexis, these resources can be used as alternatives. These resources also provide information that is not available through Westlaw or Lexis, particularly state, municipal, and city information.

When you first encounter a source, try to find its advanced search function and/or its help page. Both of these pages will provide additional information about the source, as well as give you clues as to how the source searches information and what is available through it. 

If you are having trouble using any of these resources, contact a librarian.

Alternative Research Resources

Print materials

Bloomberg Law (requires password)

  • Exclusive provider of PLI and BNA materials.
  • Best resource for (1) federal dockets and some state dockets; (2) corporate law research; (3) basic tax research.
  • Free summer access for any purpose and 6 months free access after graduation

Fastcase (access provided for free to members of the Florida Bar)

  • Caselaw research database; linked to HeinOnline for seamless journal searching.
  • Access via the LIC’s website (click Databases); must be logged in through the VPN.


  • Official U.S. government document portal
  • Find statutes, regulations, congressional documents, and executive documents

  • Congressional resource for legislation and the Congressional Record.
  • Includes pending legislation, public laws, committee and member information, and some historical legislative information.

Legal Information Institute

  • Statutes, regulations, and select Supreme Court cases.
  • Wex, a quality controlled, free online legal dictionary/encyclopedia.

Google Scholar

  • Searches for cases and scholarly articles.
  • Good starting point before jumping into paid databases.
  • If logged in via the VPN, access to journal articles is seamless.

State websites

  • Most states now publish their statutes, regulations, opinions, etc., online. The quality and search functionality of these websites varies considerably, but are worth checking out.
  • Some Florida state websites:
    • Online Sunshine: published by the Florida Legislature. Provides access to Florida Statutes, Constitution, and Session Laws
    • Florida Senate: pending laws, information about senators, committees, legislative history
    • Florida House of Representatives: pending bills, representatives, committees, legislative history
    • Florida Rules: access to the official Florida Administrative Code and Florida Administrative Register
    • Florida Courts: access to court information, court forms, and some opinions.


  • Best starting point for municipal (e.g. city or county) ordinances from across the country.
  • Not comprehensive; try the city or county webpage to verify or for additional information.