Use Google Scholar's Advanced Search for Narrow Case Law Searching

There are various tricks to using Google Scholar for free case law searching that will help you narrow your search results to relevant cases.

To narrow your search results, make sure to use the Advanced search menu.

To use the Advanced search menu for case law searching, click into the case law radio button on the Scholar home page. Then, click the down-arrow on the right side of the search box to invoke the Advanced search menu

While the first four Boolean connector and phrase search boxes located on Scholar’s Advanced search menu are the same as Google.com’s Advanced Search menu, there are three “field” search boxes and one drop-down list unique to Scholar’s Advanced Search menu.

Unfortunately, many searchers don’t use these features because Scholar never bothered labeling them with appropriate case law terminology—they simply left the articles’ database labels on them. For example, the field search box labeled as:

  • Return articles authored by should really be labeled Return cases authored by
  • Return articles published in should really be labeled Return cases published in
  • Return articles dated between should really be labeled Return cases dated between

If you didn’t know that the Return articles authored by field search could actually be used to Return cases authored by, you might simply enter the judge’s name (e.g., Charles Vogel, a California judge), into the all the words Boolean search box and limited your search to California. You would retrieve 476 opinions and it’s possible your results for that name could also be that of a party, an attorney, a witness, or an expert, and so on, many of which would be irrelevant to our analytics.

But restricting the judge’s name to the Return articles authored by field search box eliminates all those extraneous and irrelevant results that you would have had to sift through.

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