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Pro Bono Net

Lawyers serving the public good.

Tips on Searching uses the Verity search engine. This supports both simple word searches and boolean queries - meaning that you can refine your queries using logical operators such as "and", "or" and "not" (please note, the phrase including these words must be in quotes). The information below introduces how to search this site, and covers:

The search extends to all of the major content areas of the site. While there will be some variation, based on your membership permissions and whether these tools are in use in your area, these generally include:

  • News
    • Headline
    • Organization
    • Body Text
    • Author Name
  • Calendar
    • Title
    • Description
    • CLE Comments
    • City
    • State
    • Organization
  • Library
    • Organization
    • Description
    • Title
    • Attachment Content (including PDF documents, as long as they've been scanned "OCR," which converts image to text)
  • New Cases
    • Title
    • Description
    • Organization
  • Projects Tool
    • Title
    • Description
    • Organization
  • Mail List Messages
  • About, Help and other flexible content pages
    • Title
    • Description

The following pages are NOT included in site search results

  • Area Home Pages
  • Pro Bono Opportunities Guide
  • Roster

Keyword search indexes include all of the major fields associated with each piece of content (Title, Organization, Description, Location, etc.), and, in the case of the Library, includes the body of file attachments in most common file formats, including Word, WordPerfect, Excel, HTML and most PDF files.

Most queries can be written by entering the words and phrases you're interested in.

  • Words: If you want to see documents dealing with custody you can start with a single-word query, such as:

protection: Your query finds all items that include the word protection.

  • Phrases: To see documents that refer to a series of words that occur in a specific order, such as order of protection or in forma pauperis, enter the whole phrase:

order of protection: Your query finds only items that include that exact phrase in that exact order.

You can make your queries more specific by combining the words you used for basic queries with operators. Operators are special words that are used to indicate logical relationships between the descriptive terms that make up your query. Please note the following words must be capitalized. 

  • AND - Returns results containing all specified words regardless of order.
  • OR-  Returns results containing any of the specified words, regardless of order.
  • NOT - Eliminates results containing a specified word. Ex: "support not spousal"
  • " " (double quotes) - Use quotes to make sure that only the specific word is found. (Can also be used to find phrases.) Example: "bank" will only find the word bank and not banking, banked or banker.
  • ? - Wildcard operator that represents any one character. You can use a ? to specify the first letter of a word.Example: "mari?uana"
  • * - Wildcard operator that represents one or more characters. You cannot use a * to specify the first letter of a word.Example: "bank*" (finds bank and bankrupt)


Email Addresses

The search treats the "@" character as a blank space. If you're searching for an email address substitute a blank space for the "@" symbol in an email address.

Example: "info" will return results for ""


Search Results are displayed by tool, with the first 25 results for each tool visible on the default results page. The number of results visible on the list can be changed to 10, 50 or 100 by clicking on "View" links. Click on the "Next" link next to the "View" links to see additional returns.

Each search result item will show the the following information:

  • Percent number showing how well the result item matches the search term
  • Snippet of text from the resource showing an example of where the search term can be found
  • The item's content type (Attachment, Resource, Event, etc.)
  • For Attachment items, a link to the resource to which it is attached
  • The folder in which the item can be found
    • TIP: The folder listed under a resource is the exact folder it lives in. If you want to you find the string of the folder's location, click on the folder name in the search results, and that folder's location within the larger organizational structure can be found on the top of the subsequent library page.


This feature allows you to refine your search using any combination of three filters:

  • Tool (Library, News, Calendar, etc.)
  • Topic
  • Date Posted

Click on the Advanced Search >> link found below all regular search boxes to pull up the form. Follow these steps for using the form:

  • Keyword: You can search using any single word, phrase or boolean string (i.e., multiple words or phrases connected by "or", "and" or "not"). Please note, the phrase including these words must be in quotes.

You can use keywords in combination with any of the following filters or additional search fields:

  • Search in: This dropdown list presents all of the separate tools that are active in the area you're searching. Select any single tool to limit your search to just that area of the site (e.g., Library or News or Calendar, etc.)
  • Topic: You can limit your search to resources associated wtih any topic presented on this dropdown list.
  • Date Posted: Select a Date posted to limit your search to content published during the period selected.

TIP: Date Posted refers to the date an item was published onto the site, not the date on which a calendar event is being held.

TIP: Use this field to quickly find out what content has been posted since your last visit to the site. You can isolate content posted in the last week, last month, last 3 months, last 6 months, last year, or content posted before the last year.

  • Shared Content: (see below)

One useful tool featured in the Advanced Search allows you to extend your search beyond a single area to include content published in other sites.

To conduct a shared search, follow these steps:

  • Find the Shared Content area at the bottom of the Advanced Search form.
  • Check the box next to "Search shared content from other practice areas"
  • Click "Search"

Thanks to PBN Sponsors:

  • Practising Law Institute
Pro Bono and legal aid attorney resources - Pro Bono Net

Volunteer Profile

Margaret "Peggy" Wojkowski is the Co-Supervising Manager at the Self-Help Web Center at the Cook Country Circuit Court in Illinois. LEARN MORE

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