In any blog about the internet, it is inevitable that there will be, eventually, a post about the ephemeral nature of the internet. In the back of my mind, I knew that, some day, I would create just such a post. Little did I know, however, that the post would follow immediately on the heels of my first substantive entry, much less that it would consist of explaining how my post had become (partially) obsolete within days of its posting. (Somewhere, Robert Dubose is laughing, and not in the “laughing with you” sort of way.)
Alas, that is where I find myself. In my first substantive post, I spent most of the post explaining how to use Google Scholar to research caselaw. I included handy pictures in explaining how to use it, too. Then Google, without so much as a by-your-leave, went and launched a redesign of the Google Scholar website.
So now I provide you with an update of how to use Google Scholar to do basic caselaw searches. With any luck, this post will have a little bit longer of a shelf life than my first. If not, I’m changing the name of this series to “Even Further Changes to Google Scholar.” Not as snappy as “AppellaTech,” but honest.
To be clear, the link to the Google Scholar advanced search in my first post still works (for now). It’s just not as easy to get to from the main Google Scholar page. Also, the new design has new features worth mentioning.
The main page looks like this:
When using, make sure that “legal documents” is selected. “Articles” appears to be the default. From here, typing in a reporter citation (e.g., 168 S.W.3d 802) appears to get you the citation you’re looking for.
If your search query doesn’t look quite like this, see if there is a pop up on the top left suggesting “Use our modern look.” If so, click it.
You’ll notice that there is a “Select courts” button on the left side of the page. You can use that to narrow the courts to be used in the searches.
From there, you can use search terms beyond just case citations and keep your searches limited to those courts. It’s still nowhere near the level of Westlaw or Lexis Nexis. But it is a fairly handy (and free) rudimentary legal research tool.
Now please go give it a try before this post becomes obsolete. You may not have much time.
Staff attorney, First Court of Appeals
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