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By: Jennifer M. Paine, Esq.
Cardelli Lanfear
Royal Oak, Michigan

There has got to be a better way to do this! Sound familiar? If you are like most of us attorneys, you have uttered this to yourself, or at your computer, or at the stack of legal research you printed to read, and probably all of the above. There’s a lot to read, and research seems endless, sometimes at your client’s expense. Efficiency feels like an elusive goal when you are Googling the correct address for a cell phone subpoena agent or scouring medical records for the actual name, not the chicken-scratch signature, of the doctor who treated plaintiff.

In the quest to keep costs manageable for clients while delivering them quality work, efficiency and thoroughness do not always coordinate, or so we think. How many times have you wondered, for example, whether an extra hour researching a particular legal issue would yield some case law on all fours with your case, or that you have missed some key statute your opponent inevitably already knows about, or worse? On the other hand, are you wasting your client’s time and money with additional research, clicking around on your computer screen seeking out answers that may not exist?

Yes, those are rhetorical questions that may never be fully answered to every attorney’s and client’s satisfaction.  I have good news. We at Cardelli Lanfear  we want to share with you some free legal research resources that we rely upon to ensure our research is thorough and accurate and our costs appropriate:

The NPPES Registry (website:

If you are tired of searching aimlessly for the full name and correct address to include in your medical records release forms, try the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System. This is a national database of healthcare providers who participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs. That is, a lot. The registry is updated daily, and searches are free. You can search by individual name, partial name or entity. The registry includes the full name, legal address and, often times, telephone numbers and fax numbers. Going forward, you can make sure you have the correct information in those HIPAA forms, with only a few seconds’ worth of searching.

Search ISP List (website:

Search’s ISP List is a database of internet service and other online content providers, including cell phone service providers. The database is updated regularly, and searched here are also free. The database contains the most up-to-date information for legal departments, subpoena agents, whether you can issue a subpoena out-of-state, by fax, etc., and a host of other tips and tricks from users who have worked with that particular company. For example, if you are looking to subpoena cell phone records, such as text messages and data usage, this is a good place to start.

Bureau of Labor & Statistics (website:

If you are researching an employment-related issue, definitely visit the databases online at the US Bureau of Labor & Statistics. Here, you can find databases for unemployment, reemployment, average salaries, workplace injuries, productivity, etc., by region. For example, if you are looking to impute income to someone, you can match that person’s residency and skill set to job openings and average salaries using these databases. You can also find inflation calculators and a host of articles about labor statistics in the United States based on region. In many courts, these records are considered public or otherwise reliable and not subject to hearsay exclusion.

Cornell Legal Information Institute (website:

This is a great resource for federal law research. Here you will find current versions of the Code of Federal Regulations, the US Code, federal court rules and recently published federal court opinions. You can also search legal issues by topic and state. This website is a great place to start when your fee-based legal research engines are not an option or your issue is so broad that you need to narrow the scope with free research first.

We at Cardelli Lanfear hope you find these resources helpful and your research tasks easier. Happy researching!