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Strengths and Limitations of Online Resources

Fee-based online services such as Westlaw and LexisNexis are superior despite their cost and that while less expensive, most free online sites cannot compete with the breadth and quality of services offered by these two industry leaders. That being said, some free websites are better than others and can be useful additions to your research repertoire.

Fee-based services are considered superior because of the editorial oversight and the depth of resource coverage that they provide. In general, free websites only provide access to secondary resources. Therefore, when you are using them you often will have to search out the primary resources. These primary resources generally are available through library or subscription-type resources, but having to track them down can take time. The exceptions to this rule are government websites; they usually link primary resources to the secondary documents they create. However, they sometimes do not put all of their documents online or do not post them as quickly as commercial publishers.

To prepare:

  • Reflect on the benefits or drawbacks of each resource that you used and which online resources were the most or least useful.
  • Select a policy in which you are interested.

With these thoughts in mind:

Provide a brief description of the policy area you selected. Then, briefly explain one online resource that you think is the most useful for researching the policy area and one online resource that you think is the least useful for researching the policy area and explain why. Be specific.

Support your response using the Learning Resources and other scholarly resources.



  • Cornell University Law School: Legal Information Institute
  • WashLaw: Legal Research on the Web

Optional Resources


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