Google Scholar Improves Legal Documents Search

Recent changes to interface and sorting options make it easier to find and evaluate documents in Google Scholar’s ever-growing free database of court opinions and legal materials.

Earlier this month, Google Scholar added the option to sort legal search results by date, with the most recently published cases and articles appearing first. The new sorting option can be used in combination with jurisdiction and date restrictions, so you can view only results from specific time ranges or courts.

And in case you missed it, since March, Google Scholar has included graphical indicators in the “Cited by” list of subsequent opinions citing a case – from zero to three bars, depending on the depth of treatment – and like the general results list, the “Cited by” list can now be limited by date and jurisdiction. As before, the “How cited” feature also displays excerpts from the most relevant parts of the citing cases.

Longtime Google Scholar users may have also noticed enhancements since May to display and print options, including a cleaner, streamlined look and improved browser-based printing for legal opinions.

Not new but worth noting is the “Create email alert” link at the bottom of any Google Scholar search results page – click it to set up notifications for newly added documents citing any case or article, or corresponding to a specific search you’ve run.

You can access Google Scholar through the Law Library catalog. To get the most out of your searches, remember to log in to your Library Account before using Google Scholar off campus – this allows direct access to article results from Georgetown’s subscription databases.

The screenshot below highlights useful features on the “Cited by” page for Ferguson v. Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, 69 P. 3d 965.

Google Scholar citation page

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