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Cost-Effective Legal Research: Free Sources for Statutes & Codes

Introduction to Free Sources of Statutes & Codes

The United States Code and most state codes are available for free online. These sources usually only provide the text of the statutes, however, and do not include annotations or case references. The online versions of codes also may not be current, which means they may not reflect the changes made by more recent legislation. 

United States Code

  • govinfo - Contains the United Stated Code from 1994 to present. Browsable and searchable by citation and keyword. To search the full text of the Code, use the advanced search interface.
  • Library of Congress - Digitized version of the official Code in print, offered as PDF. Browsable by edition and then by Title.
  • Legal Information Institute - Contains the most recent official version of the  U.S. Code with links to the recent changes. Browsable and searchable by citation and keyword. Each code section includes a "Current through" notation and an "Updates" tab, which provides a list of recent modification.
  • Office of the Law Revision Counsel - Contains the most recent official version of the U.S. Code with tables indicating recent changes. Searchable by citation, keyword, and Popular Name Tool. Use the "Classification" link to find tables providing cross-reference between code sections and recently enacted public laws.

United States Session Laws

  • GovInfo - Contains the United States Statutes at Large covering 1951 to 2015. 
  • Office of the Law Revision Counsel - Provides classification tables which indicate the updates made to each section of the Code since the last official publication.

State Codes & Session Laws

Most states have recent session laws and state codes on the web. For example, you can locate them through the Legal Information Institute's listing of state laws by jurisdiction. However, this approach is best if you already have either a citation or some exact language from the statute. Justia also has a collection of US Laws, Codes & Statutes published by both the U.S. Government and by individual states.

Law Library of Congress Research Guide on Law Online lays out selected laws, regulations, court decisions, and secondary sources for federal government branches and all U.S. states and territories.


Municipal Codes

The following is a list of places to check if looking for the codes, ordinances, bylaws, or measures of a specific locality or municipality.


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