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Frequently Asked Questions


Where does the Search Box appear?

  • From anywhere in the site, click on the "Search Library" link from the horizontal menu underneath the banner..
  • The Search Box also appears at the top of every practice area section landing page and at the top of every library category browse page.  So, if you go to a Library Section first, you can start by browsing a category, then switch to Search to refine your results.

How do I use the Search Box?

  • The only field that you must complete when searching is the text box field with the magnifying glass  icon to the left -- you must enter a word.  If you enter more than one word in the search box, MLS will search for results which contain all words.
  • You can limit your search to a particular practice area (e.g. Benefits, Housing) by selecting the practice area you want to search from the "Practice Area" field. To search the entire library, select "Any"
  • Once you have selected a Practice Area, you can limit your search even further by restricting it to a particular category or subcategory.  If you choose to search within a particular Practice Area, a field titled "Category" will display.  This "Category" field contains a list of all of the main categories in that practice area.  If you select a category from the pick list, the search will include all of the documents in that category as well as all of the subcategories that are part of that category. 
  • If you want to only search a particular subcategory, you can select the subcategory that you wish to search in from the "Subcategory" field that will appear once you have selected a particular category. If you select a subcategory from the pick list, the search will include only the documents in that particular subcategory.

How can I navigate my search results?

  • The initial display of your search results is by "relevance".  However, you can resort the display by Date, Author or Title.  Simply click on one of these words, which appear directly below the Search Box on the results page.  To go back to the original display, select the Sort By Relevance choice.
  • The search results tell you how many results you have.  If you have far too many, consider limiting your search.  Not enough results?  Consider making your search broader.
  • Your search results are automatically grouped by the type of library item that it is (e.g. hearing decision, court decision, etc.)  The first tab is titled "All Results" and shows all of the results form your search.  If you want to only look at a particular type of library item, click the relevant tab.
  • In the left hand column, there are some additional filters that you can use to limit the number of results.  You can select a Author, a particular Practice Area, Category or Subcategory; you can select a particular date or, if users have also added tags to at least some of your search results, you can click on a tag to show only those results with that tab. Once you have selected any of these filters, they will show as an "Active Filter" right above your search results.  To remove a filter, simply click on the red x to the left of the filter.


  1. There is a log in box in the upper right portion of the banner at the top of the home page.  There is a link called "Forgot password?"  Click this link.
  2. When you click the "forgot password" link, you are brought to a new screen titled "manage your account".  There is a field which asks for your username or e-mail address.  Enter your work e-mail address, and click the "e-mail new password" button.
  3. Once you click the "e-mail password" button, two things happen.  You are brought to a new "manage your account" screen. Ignore this screen. Instead, go to your e-mail, because you have been sent an e-mail from the site (it may take a few minutes for this e-mail to arrive).  Open the e-mail that has just been sent to you from the site.
  4. This e-mail will contain a link that you can click on to reset your password  (the link should start with http).  Click on this link.  You are brought to a screen called "reset password".  Click the "log in" button on this screen.
  5. Once you click the "log in" button, you are brought to your own account page.  At the top of the page, you will see your username.  You will also see a field for e-mail address (don't change this), a field called "password" and a field called "confirm password".  Type in the password that you would like to use in both password fields.  You do not need to change the password that you previously used -- you can enter the same one.
  6. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen, and click the "submit" button.  You will again see your account screen.  Click the word "home" from the breadcrumb menu (in the top section of the screen, all the way to the left side, underneath the Logo for MassLegalServices) to go to the home page, and start exploring the website!
Note that if you do not have an account on the site, you will not be able to get a new password.  If you need an account, or if you are having trouble getting a password, go to the "Contact Us Section of the website, and fill out the form with your name, e-mail, and the problem you are having.   You do not need to be logged into the site to use the contact form.
Only staff affiliated with the Massachusetts legal services programs listed in the Directory are eligible to register for an account, and some content and sections of MLS are restricted to members. If you are such a staff person, you have already been registered for an account and assigned a username; if you do not know your username or password, use the "forgot password" feature that is part of the log in box in the top right corner of the banner. (If you are eligible for an account and do not have one, contact us.) However, the public is welcome to access many features of our site, including material in the poverty law library and the Find Legal Help Directory.