Legal Research Tools


Internet Search Engines and Subject Directories for Legal Research

Posted in Legal Research Tools

Search Engines and Subject Directories

You can search for legal information on the Internet by using a search engine or a subject directory. Subject directories are created or indexed by people and have some form of classification while search engines are computer generated. Here are some examples:

Search EngineURLFeatureIndexes


  • Ranks in order of relevance
  • Web
  • US Government Sites


  • Ranking of internet sites are explicit as percentage
  • Web
  • Use Net News
Alta Vista


  • Advance search allows for customised sorting
  • Translation
  • Web Sound & Graphic Sites
  • UseNet News
Subject DirectoryURLFeature


  • Comprehensive Australian primary and secondary legal information
  • World Law
  • Hierarchical arrangement
  • Subject and source Indexes
FindLaw (US)


  • Comprehensive legal guide to US Cases, Codes and legal resources
LII (Cornell)


  • Lists US primary and secondary legal information
BUBL Link (UK)


  • Topics classified by Dewey Decimal Classification
WWW Virtual Library


  • Catalogue of subject gateways
  • Hierarchical listing
  • Has annotations and cross references



Effective Internet Search Strategy

Posted in Legal Research Tools

  1. Analyse your topic: Identify keywords and terms or any synonyms and write them down.
  2. If you know the web address or the URL, go straight to the website and use their search engine if there is one.
  3. All Search engines have information about their search strategies (either it be Boolean Logic or Proximity Operators) .Go to Search Help. Please read this prior to doing a search.
  4. For a general search, use a general search engine such as Google.
  5. If the information is more specific in nature, use a general search engine and use their advance searching syntax for searching. Use features like "More Like this" (Google) or 'Results Ranking" (Alta Vista).
  6. If you a searching for a general information in a specific area or topic, use a subject directory and give preferences to authoritative subject gateways such as AustLII.
  7. If you are searching for specific information in a specific subject field, specialised search engines such MEDLINE should be used