Unraveling Legal Cases: How to Find Briefs from Any Legal Case

The legal landscape can be a complex and challenging terrain to navigate. If you’re interested in accessing the briefs of a specific legal case, you’re not alone. Many people – from law students and academics to journalists and curious individuals – seek this information for various reasons. To help you in your quest, we’ve compiled a list of resources that can help you access the briefs from any legal case.

1. Court Websites and Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER)

The first place to start is the court websites. Most courts have an online database where they publish their opinions, orders, and case documents. These databases often include case briefs, as well. For federal cases in the United States, the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system is an invaluable resource. PACER provides access to millions of case and docket information from federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts. Note that PACER charges a fee for access, but there are exemptions for certain users, such as academics and pro bono attorneys.

2. Law Libraries and Academic Institutions

Many law schools and universities maintain extensive legal libraries, both in print and online. These libraries typically have access to legal databases like Trellis, Westlaw, LexisNexis, and HeinOnline, which provide case briefs and other legal materials. If you’re affiliated with a university, you might have free access to these databases through your institution. Alternatively, you can visit a law library in person, where the librarians can help you find the case briefs you’re looking for.

3. Legal Research Websites and Blogs

There are numerous legal research websites and blogs that offer access to case briefs and summaries. Websites like Justia, FindLaw, and the Legal Information Institute (LII) at Cornell Law School provide free access to a wealth of legal information, including case briefs from various jurisdictions. Additionally, blogs such as SCOTUSblog and The Volokh Conspiracy regularly provide summaries and analyses of significant legal cases.

4. Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a powerful search engine that focuses on scholarly literature, including legal materials. You can use Google Scholar to search for case briefs by entering the case name, citation, or relevant keywords. While Google Scholar may not always have the full brief available, it can often lead you to other sources that do.

5. Non-Profit Legal Organizations

Some non-profit legal organizations provide access to case briefs and summaries as part of their mission to promote transparency and understanding of the law. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), for example, often publish case briefs and legal analyses on their websites.


Finding case briefs might require some persistence, but the resources mentioned above can significantly improve your chances of success. Keep in mind that not all cases have publicly available briefs, and older cases might be more challenging to find. However, with the growing trend towards open access and transparency, the availability of case briefs is constantly improving. Happy hunting!

Prior to founding Trellis, Nicole Clark was a business litigation and labor and employment attorney who handled litigation in both state and federal courts. She regularly represented multinational corporations in claims ranging from high-profile trade secret disputes to complex class-action litigation. Frustrated by sending internal emails and collecting anecdotes on judges in order to make strategic case recommendations, she built Trellis to solve her own need for access to data, information, and analytics at the state trial court level. Prior to law school, Nicole attended Bard College, beginning her college coursework at the age of sixteen. She graduated with honors from University of Massachusetts Amherst with a BA in Journalism, and received her Juris Doctorate from Rutgers School of Law in Newark, NJ. Nicole sat for the Bar Exam in California, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, and remains licensed to practice law in all three states.