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LIV President's Blog 2012

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10 FREE online legal research tools

10 FREE online legal research tools

With the title of ‘young lawyer’, ‘new lawyer’ or ‘later lawyer’ comes expectation.  Founded or otherwise, one such expectation is that we are, or should be, proficient researchers. Fresh from university, we have recently honed our skills in essay writing and exam study by knowing which of the many online and other legal resources are best for the task at hand. Our employers and more senior colleagues will look to us to lead the way in online legal research.

Although there are numerous online and hardcopy paid subscription services available, these can be expensive and not always available to us.

In the interests of ensuring members have access to information – and fast – this blog explores my favourite FREE legal research tools which are all available online.

Finding case law
1. Austlii -
Access to case law from most superior Australian courts and tribunals, as well as current and past Federal, State and Territory legislation.

2. Jade -
Free subscription service for searching, annotating and sharing Australian legal judgments and decisions.  Delivers tailored results to your inbox daily of the latest superior court decisions (a favourite of some leading barristers I know).

Finding legislation
3. ComLaw -
The Attorney-General’s Department site for Commonwealth materials is the most up-to-date, authoritative resource for Commonwealth legislation.

4. Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents -
Contains search options for Victorian Acts, Statutes, Rules, Bills under consideration and Victorian Hansard.

5. Lawlex -
An interface to legislative information online.

Legal citation
6. Monash Legal Abbreviations -
Monash University website contains both Australian and international abbreviations for citations of case law.

7. Melbourne University Guide to Legal Citation -
A comprehensive guide to legal writing which clarifies Australian citation customs and best practice.

Finding journals and articles
8. LIV Library -
Locate Law Institute Journal (“LIJ”) articles on the LIV library catalogue. As a LIV member the first 5 articles from the collection are free. You may also access the HeinOnline & AGIS databases to locate journal articles. With extensive experience in legal research, library staff have the expertise to ensure that LIV members have the resources they need to achieve the best outcome for their clients.

To see which new articles have been indexed by the library from an array of journals, read the ‘In Reference’ page in the LIJ each month.

9. Lawyers Weekly - @LawyersWeekly on Twitter
News, analysis and opinion about the business of law.

Legal blogs
10. Australian Law Blogs -

Social Media - the fastest way to get the latest news
The online legal research landscape is constantly evolving. In addition to the 10 resources listed above, social media is fast becoming a great way to stay in front with the latest news and law reform in Victoria, Australia and the world. Join the LIV Young Lawyers Facebook page at for articles, reform updates, forums and other upcoming events for new lawyers (both legal and not-so-legal).

Law-focussed Twitter accounts to follow
Also, an example of some great Twitter accounts to follow include:
LIV President - @LIVPresident
LIJ - @theLIJ
ALRC - @AusLawReform
Australian Law News - @AusLegal
Australian Competition and Consumer Law (Julie Clarke) - @competitionlaw
Arts Law Centre of Australia - @ArtsLawOz
Julian Burnside (barrister, human rights activist) - @JulianBurnside

Please add your own comments and tips for free online legal research below. I look forward to expanding my list of resources and finding some new Twitter users to follow!

Nick Cooper
LIV YLS Social Committee Co-chair

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Michael Green
Thank you for your kind comments about JADE. It inspires the team.

Stephanie, you should try JADE's indexing and case searching. We are constantly enhancing JADE.

Jade also contains links to legislation with the full text. Searching for case law is also fully integrated at Our CaseTrace technology links at the paragraph (or page) level, giving pin-point accuracy to relevant later consideration.

And JADE's citations system is kept up-to-date. As soon as a decision is received which cites an earlier case, it's linked. While LawCite from AustLII is more extensive, it's only updated every few months. It's late December 2012 and the last included citations for a case are from late September. (Search on AON and compare with JADE, which shows you the citation in context:[2009]%20HCA%2027

Of course, you need to have access to several systems (including the commercial ones) to be able to perform comprehensive online legal research. But that's a debate for another day.
15/12/2012 6:40:22 PM

Daniel Robinson
Legify ( is indispensable for getting legislation painlessly. It's not another source - just a simple, elegant, consolidated way of accessing all of the Commonwealth and State government sites (ComLaw etc).
25/07/2012 9:57:37 PM

Amanda Storey
Great suggestions Nick. I have a penchant for legal commentary with a bias towards Williams Civil Procedure for Victoria and Halsbury Law for all those left-of-centre legal questions.

I have never heard of Jade before so I'm going to sign up first thing!
1/07/2012 9:42:54 PM

Also, on the topic of Austlii, when you are looking for example, into Acts/sections of particular Acts, click on the "note up" tab and you will have access to case law relating to same. This also applies to case law. Very helpful.
30/06/2012 10:44:34 AM

Nick (Creator and Master of this Blog)
Kyle and Stephanie - awesome work on your suggestions. Keep them coming in, legal eagles!
29/06/2012 10:36:47 AM

Kyle McDonald
A good list of Australian law blogs is at, and Australian legal tweeters at
27/06/2012 12:00:19 AM

I completely agree about Jade -- I've found the weekly alerts on relevant caselaw extremely helpful, but for searching for cases, I personally prefer LawCite -
26/06/2012 5:29:51 PM

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