1/20/11

Google Scholar Keeps Getting Better as a Free Legal Research Tool

Google Scholar has been around for several years now, and I've been monitoring it as a free, online legal research tool.  As you'd expect from Google, they keep building upon this product and their latest tweak involves allowing you to perform searches within specific jurisdictional databases.  Search their entire federal database, or search within one appellate circuit.  Limit your search to a particular state.  You get the idea.

How good is Google Scholar -- and how up to date? 

Well, today I was working on a blog post with Terry Lenamon on the Texas case where a state district judge wanted to hold an evidentiary pretrial hearing on the constitutionality of Texas' system of capital punishment, and how the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals slapped him down (at least for now).

I found the opinion (actually there are two) on the court's official web site.  However, on a whim, I just checked the Google Scholar Advanced Search and yep.  There they were.  Both opinions.   

So, Google Scholar is good, and getting better, but not great.  Yet.  But if I were Lexis or Westlaw, I'd be worried. 
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