yesterday that its Google Scholar function would enable people “to find and read full text legal opinions” for state and federal courts.
We wondered just how many cases are available, and if it would be mainly prominent ones like they mentioned in the press release (such as Planned Parenthood v. Casey) or if it will actually be a good way for lawyers to quickly find an opinion without having to log on to (and pay) Lexis or Westlaw.
We asked a few litigators to send us citations for cases they have sitting on their desk right now or that they had really recently pulled.
We did not run a huge sample of them, only eight total. But they were all pretty random (USA Waste Services of Houston v. Strayhorn, anyone?) and included both state and federal courts at various levels….and Google Scholar had them all!
When looking for a particular case, you can search by case name or citation. You can also do word and subject matter searches as well.
The full text opinions are of course lacking in the bells and whistles Westlaw and Lexis provide (like case summaries and headnotes), but they do have a “how cited” tab that has quotes from cases that have cited your case, and links are provided to those cases.
This is probably not welcome news in the paid services game – their find and pull features are less desireable when you can just go straight to Google.
Clearly Google Scholar will not suffice for full legal research, but if you want a quick tutorial on a topic, cases returned in a quick word search may not be a bad place to start.
Oh, Google. What will you think of next? This will save us fairly frequently from having to navigate the unbearably clunky Pacer. And for that, we are thankful.
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