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Thomson Corp.’s Westlaw and LexisNexis’ research services both offer indispensable tools and resources for any legal researcher. For a long time, they offered the only real options for current primary law. Now there are a number of mature legal research alternatives that can complement your Westlaw or LexisNexis subscriptions. They are not replacements, but you may save on your research costs by adding them to your mix. Some may even be free!

First, let’s dispel a persistent myth — that all recent case law is freely available on the Web. Many jurisdictions have improved case law access, both published and “unpublished,” by offering opinions on their Web sites. Even state courts, which as a group tend to lag behind federal courts in technology adoption, are succeeding in providing access to high court opinions, and often appellate court decisions as well.

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