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Google is a free internet search engine. Although part of Google's appeal is the ability to search using simple, intuitive keywords or natural language, trying to do legal research in this way can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
If you use Google at the start of the research process, it can help with subject matter issue spotting and identifying relevant jurisdictions. In this way, you can get a sense of what keywords and terms of art will produce the best results from other resources you will use later in the research process. The search results from Google can help you get a sense of the extent to which your topic involves case law, statutory law, and administrative law.
Unlike law-specific resources such as Lexis or Westlaw, Google will provide you any results that match your keyword search—even if the results do not pertain to the law or are from non-scholarly sources. Therefore, when using Google, you should proceed with greater attention to the relevancy and validity of the sources you find, such as narrowing your search .edu or .gov websites. Compared to Lexis or Westlaw, Google's tools for assessing a source's currency are of less utility in legal research, and to the extent that a citator function exists, it is only for Google Scholar. This lack of specific legal emphasis, coupled with the absence of many of the powerful search tools offered by Lexis, Westlaw, and print resources, means you must be mindful when using Google.