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Cost-Effective Electronic Legal Research: Low Cost Databases

New Databases Incorporating Advanced Search Technologies


Uses data visualization to present results as a diagram showing case results as circles on a chronological grid, which can be arranged by court level. The larger circles indicate how many times the case was sited, showing the key cases at a glance. Lines between the cases show the relationships between them. Users report that they can complete research 66% faster if they start with Ravel, because it gives them an overview of the state of the law.

Paid subscribers can get star reading case clusters, which analyze key passages in a case, and identify subsequent cases which discuss the same topic. Advanced statistics, natural language technology and machine learning are used to create these. The clusters appear directly in the case.
Incorporates law firm client alerts and other secondary sources from the web.

Low Cost PACER Alternatives

PACER, the federal court system's online filing and docket system, provides huge amounts of documents from federal cases.  PACER charges ten cents a page.  The services below aim to make searching of the PACER data more efficient or save costs.

State and federal case and statutory law offered in a variety of low cost plans.  Free for law students and faculty.

Comparison of Low Cost Alternatives to Lexis & Westlaw


Unannotated Regulations “Shepard’s –Like Feature” Other
Bloomberg Law Yes, but click on Related Content to get court opinions citing the statute for federal - adding this feature for states

Yes - OH - Supreme 1852-; App. 1912-; Misc. 1946-2001; Selected unreporteds 2005-

Federal - 1789 for Supreme and District, 1891 for Circuit.

Yes - but click on Related Content to get court opinions citing the federal regulations- adding this feature for states Yes Dockets, Forms, Practice Books, News, Company Info, Legislation/reg tracking
Casemaker Yes, but get a list of cases that cite the statute. This list of cases is not available on the app version.

Yes– OH Supreme Ct. (1894-); Ohio App.(1934-); Ohio Misc.(1999)

Ohio unreported 1981-

Yes Yes

Some Jurisdictions - Jury Instruc., Jury Verdicts, More.

Can sort by relevance, date decided or most cited. Sorting not available in app.

Can click on linked case names and statute citations to go to case or statute. Not available in app.

Fastcase Yes, but get a list of cases that cite the statute. Not available in free app. Fed. App. 1924-, Ohio Supreme court & appellate 1936-,  Ohio unreporteds 2000-.Coverage Yes, but just Internet Links for 13 states, including Ohio Yes, more advanced in the paid version.

For some jurisdictions - Constitutions, AG opinions, administrative decisions, court rules.

Free app has no print or email function, but can save within the app. 

Both paid and app versions have hyperlinks to other cases and statutes.

App now syncs with desktop version, so that favorites and search history are available and updated on both versions.

Versuslaw - See help, Content/
Fed if pay more, no state Ohio 1950 -.  Ohio unreporteds 1995 -. Older Fed District More $ Fed if pay more, no State Yes ----


  Boolean Natural Language Fields Search databases together Saves Searches,
Alert Searches



Bloomberg Law Yes - s/, p/ Yes Advanced Searches on the right side All-in-One Search Box

Saves Searches and

Alert Searches

Casemaker Yes - w/n Yes

Yes, but not on app.

Can search within searches for jurisdiction and keywords, but not on app.

All-in-One Search Box Saves Searches, but not on app.

Yes, but not on app.

Can assign searches to Clients, see time spent, but not on app.

Fastcase Yes - w/n Yes, but the faq from Fastcase warns that "natural language searches are much less precise"...than boolean. Date, cite look-up only Yes

Saves last 10 searches and recent documents, even on free app.

Alert feature, but not on app.

Save documents in favorites. On app, document just saves within the app.
Versuslaw Yes - w/n Yes default connector is ADJ 4 fields, see help For additional fee No No

Mobile Apps? 

Casemaker, Fastcase, Bloomberg, although with limited functionality.  

According to an ABA Survey, lawyers spend an average of 20 percent of their work time conducting legal research, and when they start a research project, they generally turn first to free online research services before using fee-based services or research materials in print or on CD-ROM.

You can find all of these types of legal research resources at the Franklin County Law Library.