For those who have grown dependent on electronic case searching (and really, who hasn’t?), there is some good news for your post-subscription access days. The state of California has partnered with LexisNexis to provide FREE access to California official case law. See http://www.lexisnexis.com/clients/CACourts/ (please note that this site is intended for personal, rather than commercial, use).
Expectedly, the available search fields are much more limited than in Lexis’ subscription-based service. Here, there are three main search options: by court (CA Courts of Appeal and/or CA Supreme Court); by keyword using natural language; and by date. Choosing narrow search criteria is recommended, because this free service will only display up to 25 relevant cases for each search. On the positive side, this limit should help you in crafting and refining your search terms, as you will want a concise list of relevant cases, and a set of 25 cases is relatively manageable. Additionally, there is no limit to the number of searches allowed, so feel free to be creative and try different search strategies.
As a free-of-charge search system, it certainly lacks the bells and whistles to which we became accustomed in law school – for example, Shepardizing is not available through this service – but it is still an excellent tool to have at your disposal, so check it out sometime! [REG]