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Vermont Legal Research for Non-lawyers

Step 2

Look for discussion that explains which parts of your research question have legal aspects.

You can search news sources, journal articles, and books. These materials may not be Vermont-specific, but might mention Vermont. Places to begin this research include:

  • Google - search across the entire internet; results may or may not be specific to your question.

  • Google Scholar - focus your search to academic and legal publications, and cases by jurisdiction.

  • Vermont Publications, Maps & Newspapers - a list of current publications, courtesy of VOGA, Vermont Outdoor Guide Association

  • JULIEN, the Vermont Law School Library catalog, contains books, law journals, and other reference materials. Physical books may be available via inter-library loan, or you can request specific excerpts or chapters. Send an email to to make a request.

  • Subscription Databases such as Westlaw, Lexis, HeinOnline, and Fastcase. Lexis is only available when the library building is open, but a library staff member can retrieve documents for you if you know the exact citation. HeinOnline is available with a video reference appointment, and Fastcase and Westlaw are available through a free trial program from CLIC. To request your Fastcase or Westlaw trial account, or to make an appointment to use HeinOnline, send an email to:

  • For common legal tasks (such as filing for divorce, completing adoption, filing for bankruptcy, filing a complaint in Small Claims Court) there are general self-help books, such as the NOLO series. Browse titles in the CLIC reference library for relevant topics. If there is a book, specific chapter, or form you need, contact us by email to make a request:



1. Using a free search tool to find an article in a paid database available from CLIC.

Lucinda is looking for information about Vermont's new laws on hemp farming. She searches Google Scholar and finds this citation:

An Overview of Industrial Hemp Law in the United States. M Adesso, P Laser, A Mills - UDC/DCSL L. Rev., 2019 - HeinOnline

Lucinda doesn't have a login for HeinOnline, but remembers that a CLIC staff member can help her access that database. She sends a request for a reference appointment to  During the video reference session, Lucinda is able to access HeinOnline to download a copy of the article, and locate other documents.


2. Using a free search tool to find an article in a paid database that CLIC does not have access to:

Dwayne searched for the term "employment contract" and found this document:

The new employment contract by Gary D. Kissler. Human Resource Management. 1994

This is a paid article available for a fee through the publisher Wiley Online, but CLIC does not have access to this database. Dwayne can either pay for the article himself, request it via his local library's inter-library loan service (which may be free to use), or decide that he would rather look for other documents that are available without a fee.


3. Using a free search tool to find an article on a website that has free trial access for individuals.

Marcia did a general web search for "divorce" and found this newspaper article:

Deciding Who Gets to Live in the Family Home During a Divorce. New York Times. August 29, 2020

Marcia accessed the full text of the article by registering for a free trial account with the New York Times online.