I am from a biomedical background. In the biomedical background, it is very easy to get a research article for free. If you search in PubMed, Scopus, or Web of Knowledge, you will find lots of papers thats you can read in full text. However, when i tried to find papers in the field of law, I found that all you had was Westlaw, Lexis Library, and Lawtel Heinonline. These are not free, you have to pay for them. Sometimes, you can find the odd abstact. Is there no free search database? I understand that all the papers will not be free; in the biological feild you will get a lot free, but some papers you will need to pay for.

To help in ansewring the question, I am not part of university, and only study UK law.

  • 1
    Related Meta post: law.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/261/… which may assist
    – user35069
    Jul 19, 2021 at 11:09
  • In case you haven't already realised, it's worth pointing out that law differs from other fields in that the most important sources for research are legislation and judgments, as opposed to articles. BAILII (see this answer) is a reasonable free source for judgments, although it's not up to par with Westlaw etc. You can find reasonably up to date legislation at www.legislation.gov.uk, but again it is inferior to Westlaw in terms of accuracy.
    – JBentley
    Jul 19, 2021 at 13:17

2 Answers 2


Unfortunately, law lags behind STEM when it comes to open access research.

  • BAILII and CommonLII are free legal research databases of material relevant to the UK, but they are sadly quite lacking in secondary material. On the other hand, the most authoritative source of UK law is the Supreme Court, and all of its judgments are searchable on BAILII.

  • The ICLR’s search engine is publicly accessible. Although you will not be able to download full PDFs of the authorised law reports, you can read the index cards (including catchwords and links to related cases), including for many judgments which are not accessible on BAILII.

  • AustLII has a more extensive collection of Australian secondary material (and Australian judgments), which often refer to or summarise UK law.

  • Finally, as suggested in the other answer, there’s Google Scholar, as well as generic web search engines. These often turn up research published directly by the UK Parliament or other government authorities, as well as abstracts and occasionally PDFs from commercial publishers’ law journals.


I don't know of any such database for law journals, but quite a lot of law schools post PDFs of their journal articles for free online.

If you're just looking for legal opinions, Google Scholar has quite a bit available.

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