Library Q&A: How can I access legal research databases?

Q: The Law Library gets questions like this one all the time: “I am a new employee at UM System HR. I was wondering if the legal research databases are available to UM System staff, and if so, how I can get access?”

A: I have good news … and some not-so-good news. Bad news first – we can only offer access to the traditional legal research databases like LexisNexis and Westlaw, to Law School faculty and students. We are not trying to be stingy with them; we are bound by our licenses with the companies and it is very restrictive.

But wait! We offer other resources to the campus and public that can fill in some of the need for legal research tools. Some of these are offered only to those who physically come into our building (see our hours) but others are offered online to Mizzou community members.

  • Westlaw Public (Mizzou Law walk-in access) is a slimmed down version of Westlaw. It is available on several computers within the library so it is available during the library’s open hours. And it offers one of the most popular resources for our walk-in patrons: West’s Missouri Practice series. Missouri Practice is very practical and it helps attorneys and citizens understand areas of Missouri law better.
  • Fastcase (Mizzou Law walk-in access) is a free legal research tool available to Missouri Bar members and it is available to walk-in patrons within the Law Library. It offers primary sources, like cases, statutes, and regulations. It also offers a version of what librarians call a “citator.” That means that it has a mechanism to let users know if a case has been overturned. This is very important information!
  • HeinOnline (campus-wide access) is a workhorse for offering PDF access to key legal resources. We are particularly enamored of the Law Journal Library, as it offers full-text runs of all law reviews and a ton of other legal journals. Also, users who are searching federal law should look for the US Code and Code of Federal Regulations.

You can learn more about these and other free and low cost legal research tools at our online guide: