Findlaw Expands Search Functions of Free California Case Law Research Database
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Link to Database No Longer Prominent on Site's Front Door

Despite being purchased earlier this year by legal publishing giant West, well-known for its fee-based Westlaw legal database, FindLaw still continues to expand the functions of its free offerings - but that doesn't mean that they're making them easy to find. For example, those looking for FindLaw's excellent free California cases database (back to 1934), now have to look a little harder.

While this free resource had been promoted prominently on the FindLaw home page until recently, the link is now found (or should we say buried?) only on the California "state resource" page. (FindLaw visitors must click on "California" under the "U.S. State Resources" heading.) This makes the database more difficult not only for those who were used to linking from the home page, but especially difficult to find for those who may not already have been aware of its existence. While an argument can be made that a free "California" case law database belongs on the "California" page of an international legal resource, it should be noted that FindLaw still promotes a link to its California online CLE (fee-based) prominently on its front door.

Once found, however, searchers are rewarded with expanded search functionality. While FindLaw previously allowed full text searching with words or phrases and field searching by Citation, Party Name or Judge Name, now cases can also be searched by Attorney's Name and Docket Number. As before, search results include the official citations and page numbers and a "cases citing this case" link that allows for a form of free cite checking.

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