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Online Legal Research When You Can't Access The Library

Though Jenkins, like many other businesses, law firms, and libraries around the country, is closed to help the nation practice social distancing during the COVID-19 health crisis, it is still possible to do legal research without physically being in the library. In fact, Pennsylvania has a trove of primary legal information available for free online! Here are some links to get you started.

There's the Free Unofficial Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes from Westlaw. This site, maintained by Thomson Reuters, includes both the consolidated and unconsolidated Pennsylvania statutes. There's even a natural language search option. You can also check out their Help page for more information.

The statutes aren't the only free resources available online. The Pennsylvania Code (which contains Pennsylvania's administrative regulations) is also available online at http://www.pacodeandbulletin.gov/. This site offers both search and browse options. Check out their Search Tips for some common Boolean search examples the site recognizes.

Pacodeandbulletin.gov also provides access to the Pennsylvania court rules. From the home page, use the "Browse" option on the right and scroll down towards the end of the Title list within the "Code" field.

These include the Rules of Appellate Procedure (Title 210), Civil Procedure (Title 231), Criminal Procedure (Title 234), and Evidence (Title 225). The Orphans' Court Rules are located with the Rules of Civil Procedure.

For local (county) court rules, try the individual court's website. This includes Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties. For other counties, use the map Individual County Courts locator provided by the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania to find the county court's website.

If you're looking for caselaw, the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania has select opinions from the Pennsylvania Supreme, Superior, and Commonwealth Courts. A number county courts, including Philadelphia and Allegheny counties, also provide free online access to some of their opinions. We have a more detailed list of how to find county cases on our Pennsylvania Cases - Trial Level research guide.

For more help finding Pennsylvania primary resources, check out all of our Pennsylvania Law research guides.

These free online Pennsylvania resources are only a small subset of what's available to you as you are working from home. We know this is a trying time, so keep checking back for more legal research tips, including some highlights of what is available to you on the Jenkins Member Databases.

If you don't know where to start, email us at research@jenkinslaw.org. We will be monitoring the emails between 10am and 4pm and can provide some tips to get you started.

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