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How to Find a Case on FindLaw

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By Nicole Johnson, JD on March 28, 2011 12:46 PM

So you want to look up a case but not sure how to do it? Good news. You're already half-way there. FindLaw has just the resources you need to find a case in no time.

Heading to traffic court? Pull up speeding cases in your area to see how a judge might rule in your case. Facing your ex in family court? Check out summaries of child-custody cases in your state to see what factors a court might consider in awarding child custody and visitation.

You don't even have to be a lawyer to do it. Best of all, it's free.

Here is a step-by-step guide on How to Find a Case on FindLaw:

Step 1: Go to FindLaw's Cases and Codes section on our legal professional site.

You can also click on the term "visit our professional site" in the top right-hand corner of FindLaw main consumer page.

Step 2: Select the court you want to search.

Our database includes all cases from the U.S. Supreme Court (from 1893), all thirteen federal circuit courts, California Supreme Court and Appellate Court decisions (from 1934) and other state and federal court decisions. (Note: our database does not contain case settlements, unpublished opinions, or every case ever litigated, but it does have over a million pages of free caselaw.)

Not sure what circuit you're in? Check the U.S. Court locator tool here.

Step 3: Select a legal topic you want to research.

This can be anything from "Criminal Law & Procedure" to "Labor and Employment law". For a list of legal issues/practice area descriptions, click here.

Step 4: Click "Search"

Step 5: Review your results list.

After you've typed in your search parameters, you'll be taken to a list of case summaries. Case summaries are like little "snippets" of facts and law, highlighting the judge's decision in a case.

If you want to review all cases in that jurisdiction, then you're done. Otherwise, you can type in additional information, like industry, specific docket number, or party name to further refine your results.

If you're still unsure what to do next, you can click on the "Full Text Search" link and search on keywords of your choosing.

See how easy that was? And you can't beat the price, right?

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