Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Legal Research: California Free Resources: Free California Secondary Sources

Whether you are working, interning, or are a recent graduate, this guide identifies free and low-cost resources that will help you with your California legal research needs.

World Catalog

To find whether a book or article is available at your local library, use World Catalog. Plug in the name of the item and then access the record. Click "Worldwide libraries own this item" to find nearby libraries that own the item. (Make sure to enter your local zipcode.)

Free California Books, Articles and Newspaper

San Francisco Public Library: The San Francisco Public Library is located two blocks away from UC Hastings at 100 Larkin St.  You can find books on your topic via the library catalog, and articles via the electronic databases. Electronic access requires a library card.  Some useful databases include Academic Search Complete, Business Search Complete, JSTOR, Gale databases and InfoTrac. Also includes many specialized databases.

NOLO Legal Information Center (on the SFPLL): NOLO press publishes  legal books written for non-lawyers, which also contain legal forms. The database, courtesy of the San Francisco Public Law Library, offers searchable NOLO publications for free.

Google Books: Search a wide variety of books. You may have an option to view the contents of the book, but online access may be very limited. To find whether a book is available at your local library, use World Catalog as instructed above.

Internet Archive: A free digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form.

Google Scholar: Searches multiple academic databases simultaneously.  Search results include a citator to rank the influence of each article. Some articles will be available free online, but others will have restricted access. To find whether an article is available at your local library, use World Catalog as instructed above.

bepress Legal Repository: Free online access to working papers and pre-prints from scholars and professionals at top law schools around the world.

California Digital Newspaper Collection

A digital Repository of historical California newspapers published 1846-1922 (issues are 1846-present), as well as some current newspapers.