Free Pennsylvania Legal Research Resources
June 06, 2011
If you are a summer associate in Pennsylvania or if you intend to join a Pennsylvania firm after graduation, you may find it useful to know about some free legal web-based Pennsylvania resources. While these sites will not replace Westlaw or Lexis, they are great starting points to begin your research. Here is a sampling of some free Pennsylvania primary sources covering case law, statutes, bills, administrative codes and regulations, and the constitution.
To access information about Pennsylvania Courts visit the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, this site contains appellate court opinions, statewide dockets, annual statistical reports and more. You will find information on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Superior Court, Commonwealth Court, and Common Pleas Courts. There is information dates back to 1996 for the Supreme Court and 1997 for Superior and Commonwealth Courts. This link is specifically dedicated for the legal profession and it provides information on court procedures, judges, the Judicial Conduct Board, county websites, and bar association websites.
PA Statutes and Bills
You can access Pennsylvania’s statues via the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s webpage. You can also browse by title. This site gives you the option of viewing statutes in PDF, Word, or html formats. It also contains useful links to the Pennsylvania Senate and House as well. State bills are also available via the General Assembly webpage. You can search by bill number, keyword, or topic.
PA State Codes and Regulations
The Pennsylvania Code is an official publication of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It contains regulations and other documents filed with the Legislative Reference Bureau. This link will provide access to the Pennsylvania Code – which includes the full-text of Pennsylvania’s administrative regulations. It can be searched using keywords and/or titles or you can browse.
In 1776, Pennsylvania enacted its first state constitution, in direct response to the Declaration of Independence and the instructions of the Second Continental Congress. The above link provides the full text of the current state constitution.
Here are several other links that you may find useful:
This first link is to the Government in Pennsylvania website. It includes provides resources on state agencies, “Quick Government Resources” (which provides links to Pennsylvania County web sites), and “Right to Know” (which is a link to the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records Officers).
The second link is to the Pennsylvania Governor’s Website which includes links to state agencies as well as to Cabinet Officials and Offices & Commissions.
For an in-depth look at Pennsylvania Legal Resources, please consult the Pennsylvania Legal Research Handbook by Frank Y. Liu, et al. This is a comprehensive