When discussing electronic legal research, it’s difficult not to focus on Westlaw and LexisNexis. They are, after all, the 800 lb. gorillas of the topic. And while access to these systems is free to you now (although I’ll be quick to insert that the law library pays for your “free” access), things may be different when you begin to practice.

In that vein, I want to begin introducing free or low-cost alternatives to Westlaw and Lexis that may be of use to you in the future. Court websites have become valuable tools for attorneys and pro se patrons. They often provide 10 years of recent cases, as well as court forms, court rules, model jury instructions, and self-help items.

The Utah State Courts website is a great example. This site has UT Supreme Court opinions from 1996 and UT Court of Appeals opinions from 1997. A number of UT State Court Forms are also available, as well as the Utah State Court Rules. A work-in-progress that should prove very valuable to the Utah Bar is the inclusion of the Model Utah Jury Instructions, 2d ed. There is also a link to the Online Court Assistance Program to assist pro se patrons prepare basic legal documents. You’ll also find quite a bit of other useful information to help you in your practice or in your coursework.