Best Legal Research Software & Tools

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

 Our lives have changed drastically over the last 20 years. A couple of decades ago smartphones weren’t so smart, social media didn’t run our lives, and quite simply, we relied significantly less on technology.  Our day-today lives and business operations were necessarily slower.  

Today, our lives are much different than they used to be. We live in an era where we have access to huge amounts of data at the click of a button. When you want to find out something, just fire up your browser or talk to your phone and you’ll get an answer in seconds.

This accessibility to information and new legal research software programs have made it possible for smaller law firms to be significantly more efficient in the process of preparing cases. You are no longer limited by the size of your staff to find and stay up to date on the information you need. 

This article will go over 7 online legal research services that can help you conduct your legal research more efficiently and cost-effectively in 2021.

Casetext is a web-based legal research tool that separates itself from LexisNexis and Westlaw by focusing on accuracy, a friendly user interface and competitive pricing.  

One of the biggest problems when conducting case research is the massive amount of information that you have to filter through and the fact that some critical information can be hard to find. One of the best legal software, Casetext aims to solve this by having an advanced search engine that helps you filter out the useful information from the noise. 

  • It helps you find the information you need by flagging bad-law cases, easy to use labels and case summaries that are written by judges.
  • Its database covers federal case law, 50 state case law (published and unpublished cases). Also statutes, regulations, administrative agency decisions, federal briefs and really too many things to list here.
  • Gives you access to CARA AI, an artificial intelligence search tool that makes finding case information quicker by feeding it the documents you are working on. 

From the Casetext blog: How Firms Can Introduce Efficiency to Retain Clients After Covid-19

Legal Research Strategies for Four Legal Practice Areas

FactBox: Web-based fact management tool for litigators

Fact management is one of the most cumbersome elements of litigation cases. The sheer amount of information that needs to be collected, cataloged and shared makes this a very work-intensive process. With the increase of digitization in evidence collecting came the need to find a better way to keep track of everything. This led to the creation of fact management tools like FactBox.  

FactBox is a web-based tool that makes the most out of the app’s ability to have an effective case flow. 

  • It has a label management tool that helps you categorize facts and ideas so you can start or build a case as new information is available. 
  • It helps you sort, filter and build fact clusters so that you can analyze cases from different perspectives and make new connections. 
  • Easily generates reports that can be shared with clients and other stakeholders. 
  • FactBox takes a comprehensive approach to data security. It stores client data in physically secure facilities that require 2-factor access, biometric readers and is protected by armed guards. 
  • Additionally, FactBox employees are under constant monitoring to make sure that they don’t have any access to any customer data. 

From the FactBox blog: Making of a Public Case: Syed, FactBox and Syed’s Lawyer 

CourtTrax: Real-time court data

Being able to keep up with what’s going on in federal and state courts is incredibly important for law firms. This used to be only available to firms that had the manpower and budget to constantly collect the information. Now, there are services like CourtTrax that allow smaller firms the same advantages. 

CourtTrax legal research services collect data directly from the courts themselves. This ensures that they have the most recent and accurate information available. 

  • It doesn’t rely on big-data warehouses so gather the court data. This guarantees the integrity of the information. 
  • Courts typically have their reporting systems and structures. CourtTrax builds standardized reports that allow you to access the retrieved information regularly. 
  • It features a simple point-and-click interface that doesn’t require any training and makes adopting the service easy. 
  • It has several methods to access the data including a web-based platform, automated bulk data feeds and a soon-to-be-launched mobile app. 
  • The pricing is based on a completed search basis. Most searches are priced between $1 and $3 per result, and you only pay for the information that you want, no monthly or membership fees.  

From the CourtTrax blog: Courts Nationwide Provided Guidance on Handling a Pandemic.

Fastcase: Cloud-based case law research software

Fastcase recently merged with Casemaker, another leading legal research software, to provide lawyers with the best online legal research tools for easy and efficient case research. Fastcase provides a comprehensive online law library and research tools that help lawyers quickly search and find relevant case law, cases, statutes, regulations, court rules, and codes, as well as machine learning data analytics and automation tools to help streamline your workflow. 

Fastcase offers a variety of tools for all size law firms, including small and solo law firms, to make case research easy and affordable:

  • Search cases by keyword, natural language, or citation lookup to quickly find cases and documents using the information you have.
  • Easily view and navigate legal documents and see your search terms highlighted in the text of the case.
  • Save time drafting legal briefs using Fastcase’s copy and paste feature for legal documents.
  • Customize your case law search results based on jurisdiction, authority level, or document type.
  • Quickly find the documents most relevant to your case with Fastcase’s smart search technology Relevance Score, which assigns a Relevance Score to each of your search results that tells you how likely a document is to relate to the term or top you searched. Fastcase also organizes your search results by their Relevance Score so you’ll see the most relevant documents at the top of your search.
  • Easily track and file your searches so you can focus your efforts on winning your cases, rather than on sorting through documents.

From the Fastcase blog: Casemaker and Fastcase Merge to Become the Leader in Legal Research and Analytics

Google Scholar: Online database of state and federal cases

If you’re looking for a simple and free legal research tool for case law research, Google Scholar for Case Law offers a free, comprehensive online database of state and federal cases you can access through your Google search engine. If you deal in patent law, you can also search Google Patents, which is a free database through Google that indexes patents and patent applications. 

  • Type in a citation or keyword in the Case Law filter of Google Scholar and narrow down your search by specific courts, including state courts, federal courts, and Supreme Courts.
  • View other cases cited by the case you’re viewing to quickly see cases that relate to each other. 
  • Google Scholar for Case Law and Google Patents are affordable and accessible legal research tools for attorneys wanting to search case documents and patents and avoid paying for more complex and comprehensive case law research software.  

PACER: Online database of court records

PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) is a service that allows anyone with a PACER account to search and locate appellate, district, and bankruptcy court, case, and docket information for a fee. It is a publicly available resource with online legal research tools designed to make legal research easier by allowing attorneys to quickly search more than 1 billion court documents. 

  • Search cases and court opinions by a specific court or case number, and use PACER Case Locator to find all court locations and case numbers involving a specific party. 
  • Save case links and frequent searches to quickly view the documents you have used in the past.
  • Customize your search to include features such as region and date range and find court specific information to help you file a case electronically. 

If you want to learn more about how PACER court records can be used, read our blog post “What are Pacer Court Records?

Tracers: Cloud-based personal and public record research

Tracers is an online tool that allows you to quickly and easily access public and private records so that you can find the information you need to build a case. 

This software can be used in many ways and by a variety of industries, including for legal purposes and background investigations, as well as for  law enforcement, skip tracers, insurance and any other industry that needs access to public and private records. 

Tracers legal research solutions and tools help you build a more complete case. Unlike traditional “legal research software” that is focused on case law, Tracers provides attorneys with access to a database of billions of public and private records to help complete the “fact finding” side of legal research. Here are some of Tracers key tools and benefits:

  • You can perform an address history search to uncover current and past addresses, as well as a business records search to view UCC filings, employment history, and more. These searches can be a great way to complement and verify information about an individual or business that is provided to you when you start a case. 
  • In situations where there is not a significant amount of physical evidence, connections can become critical to building a case. Tracers helps you prove connections between subjects quickly by providing you with relatives, neighbors, and business associates, as well as a social network people search to help you find people a specific party associates with online
  • As it often happens in criminal cases, there are bound to be people involved who don’t want to be found or contacted. Tracers skip tracing features, like utility record search and vehicle database, assists in locating hard-to-find witnesses.
  • Whether you’re looking to take necessary security measures for your firm or you suspect someone is providing false information, it’s useful to confirm and verify identities. Tracers helps you cross-check personally identifiable information so you can get the right records for the right individual and ensure they are who they claim to be
  • With batch processing options and fast people find API integration, you can collect data for legal research in the best way for your law firm and customize the results to fit your needs.
  • Tracers continuously updates  records so you can  get the most recent and current information easily.

From the Tracers blog: 4 Types of Data That Will Help You Build Better Cases and Handle More Clients 

Use tools to improve your practice

There’s never been more data available to us than now. As you probably noticed, the one thing all of these research tools have in common is the ability to help you separate the useful from the useless. 

Most of these tools are affordably priced or have free trials available so you can try them out in your law firm and see for yourself the time and cost savings they can bring you. If you’re ready to try out the best legal research software in your law firm, get started with Tracers today!

More information

Legal research software is any online legal research platform that provides law firms with the tools they need to perform legal research and not be limited by the size of their law firms. Legal research software may be designed to help attorneys with case law research, or with the “fact finding” side of legal research, and may provide attorneys with tools to help streamline their workflow and automate some of their processes.

Legal research software can reveal information to help attorneys perform case law research, like court records, case law, court opinions, statutes, and codes. Legal research software can also reveal public and private records that help attorneys access the facts and data they need for legal research, like criminal records and asset records.

To use legal research software, you need to be a licensed legal professional with access to the internet. Legal professionals of all different practice areas can use legal research software. You may need to pay a searching fee or subscription to access some legal research software, however some attorneys can get certain legal research software for a discount or for free if they are in a bar association. Certain new legal research software, like Google Scholar, is completely free and available online.

To get started using legal research software, you need access to the best new legal research software like Tracers. Tracers provides legal professionals with over 42 billion public and private records pulled from thousands of sources to help attorneys complete the “fact finding” side of legal research and get the data they need to build their case. You can search criminal records, address history, assets, social media, and more, and even verify identities for due diligence.