Law SearchNov 24, 2020, updated Jul 26, 2021
UPDATE: Nowadays, I host an even fancier citation lookup tool at citation.link!
Type a legal citation into the box below, and I'll try to send you to whatever it references:
Law Search recognizes vaguely Bluebook-style citations to the following sources of law, plus a few others:
- most state and federal court cases
- the U.S. Code and Code of Federal Regulations
- the U.S. Constitution and all state constitutions
- codified laws for every state and territory except Arkansas, Georgia, Guam, and Puerto Rico
For a list of supported sources and their citation styles, see Sources of Law.
How it Works
When you type a citation into the search bar, Law Search tries to match your query against each of the templates. If your query looks like a valid citation to one of the supported sources of law, it translates the citation into a URL and sends you to that URL, whether it's actually valid or not.
The translation process occurs entirely in your browser, with no server-side logic or data collection. In fact, if you want to, you can even download this page and run it without connecting to my website; you'll just miss out on updates.
Two final notes for the more technically-inclined: First, Law Search is essentially a stripped-down version of CiteURL, which can not only look up individual citations, but can also insert hyperlinks for every longform or shortform citation it finds in a document. Second, if you need to look up citations that Law Search doesn't support, it's not too hard to make your own personal instance of Law Search.
Bookmark This Search!
You're totally welcome to use Law Search by coming to my site and typing your citation into the search bar whenever you want to look something up. But it's more convenient if you can set up a search keyword so that you can just type something like "ls 42 usc 1983" in your URL bar to look up the law.
To do that on Firefox, you can just right-click the search bar at the top of this page, and click
Add a Keyword for this Search....
On Chrome, go to
Settings > Manage Search Engines. From there, click
Add, and paste this address into the URL field:
For other browsers, you can follow this guide.
Sources of Law
Law Search supports the U.S. Code and Code of Federal Regulations, most pre-2018 state and federal court cases, and nearly every state's constitution and codified laws. It also supports a few federal rules and administrative materials like the Federal Register, as well as a few specific federal statutes like the National Labor Relations Act and the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Here's some information on the sites that Law Search links to most frequently:
For court opinions, Law Search uses Harvard's Caselaw Access Project. I recommend you make a free account there so that you won't need to prove your non-robot status every time. Unfortunately, the site only supports pre-2018 cases, so anything more recent than that will be a broken link. Also note that you can go directly to a specific page of an opinion if you provide a pincite, like "338 F.2d 708, 715."
For the U.S. Code and a number of federal rules like the FRCP, Law Search uses Cornell's Legal Information Institute. If you cite a subsection of the law, you should be taken directly to the right place on the page. Unfortunately their website header gets in the way of the start of the subsection, so I recommend you hide the header with Ublock Origin, or else get into a habit of scrolling up a little bit.
Many major federal laws, like the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), are often cited by reference to their original section numbers (e.g. "NLRA § 7") instead of the corresponding U.S. Code provisions. CiteURL supports a few such laws by translating their citations into the corresponding U.S. Code sections on the Cornell website. Note that this means that any cross-references on the resulting page will refer to the sections of the codified law, not the Act itself.
For codified state laws, Law Search mostly uses individual state government websites, but when they aren't compatible, it uses lawserver.com, or occasionally Justia. All U.S. states and territories are supported in some form, except for Arkansas, Georgia, Guam, and Puerto Rico, whose laws are only available on LexisNexis or on sites where generating a URL would require more information than a typical citation contains. Note that session laws and state regulations are not yet supported.
For state constitutions, Law Search mostly uses ballotpedia.org.
Finally, here's a complete list of all the supported bodies of law, in no particular order. If you're wondering what a citation to each source needs to look like, you can click
view regex to see a diagram:
If you find an issue with one of these, or if there's a source of law you'd like to see added, please open a ticket here!
By the way, if you get a lot of use out of Law Search and want to support the project, you can use the link below: