Carole Levitt's Top Ten Web Sites For Legal Research

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Internet For Lawyers President Carole Levitt, J.D., M.L.S.

Picks Top Legal Research Web Sites

This article originally appeared in The Internet Lawyer Issue 6.05 - May 2000.
Used with permission. Click here to request a free sample edition of The Internet Lawyer.
Revised March 5, 2006.

WHAT I DO ONLINE

As founder and president of Internet For Lawyers, I conduct in-house training at law firms to teach legal professionals how to find free legal, business and investigative information on the Internet. I also make outside presentations to trade associations (from bar associations to law librarian associations to legal administrators associations) and speak at law/ technology conferences besides designing and staging my own seminars. Because of the nature of my business, I have to keep up with the ever changing Internet world and am constantly online testing out and evaluating different web sites to update my presentations and my books.

SURFING PHILOSOPHY

My surfing philosophy is, DON'T! Instead, find one or two law-related portals (see FindLaw below) and a few law related meta-sites (that organize legal web sites into subject directories and provide links to those sites, such as Cornell LII noted below) and stick with these. Why bother surfing the web to locate material, when someone else (most likely an attorney or law librarian) has already tested out law-related web sites, evaluated them and deems them to be current, reliable and comprehensive.

FAVORITE SEARCH ENGINE

My favorite search engine, if I must use one at all is Lawcrawler because it surfs law-related sites only, cutting down the number of irrelevant hits and the sheer volume of hits that a more general search engine will return.

FindLaw

This is my favorite web site because you can link to almost any legal or government web site from here. There was a time when you could create your own high-technology office by using FindLaw's free services. Since its acquisition by Thompson-West in 2001, many of those free services have been replaced by paid services. For example, FindLaw once offered free web site hosting, free e-mail (your name @justice.com), 10 megs of free storage on the web (to store and share documents with clients or co-counsel in a secured setting) and free e-faxing - but no more. FindLaw does still offer free access to select U.S. Supreme Court briefs and full-text searchable California case law back to 1934. www.findlaw.com

Cornell LII

Cornell fills in where law school left off. Click on "Law about" (left-hand column of the home page), and then select "All topics alphabetically". Choose a topic, such as "mortgages" ( I didn't learn about this in law school, did you?). A screen pops up summarizing mortgage law and provides links to all codes, cases and regulations (federal and state) relating to mortgage law. www.law.cornell.edu

The Virtual Chase (TVC)

If you like to cut to the chase (pardon the pun), check out TVC. Topical guides that include descriptions of each site (and links to each one) have been created to assist you in finding legal, investigative and business information on the Internet. Each source has been hand-selected and evaluated by Law Librarian/Web Manager, Genie Tyburski. www.virtualchase.com

LLRX

Have you been thinking about creating an Intranet for your firm and need some background materials and tips or do you wonder if there are any other topical guides like the ones found at TVC? Then, LLRX is for you. Founded by two law librarians, Cindy Chick and Sabrina Pacifici, this site consistently provides outstanding Internet law-related articles with links. 1400 links to federal, state and local court rules and links to all federal courts with a web presence are some of the highlights of this site. www.llrx.com

Martindale-Hubbell

Not only can you search for attorneys' addresses, phone numbers and biographies, you can also now find the same information about other law firm professionals such as law librarians, firm administrators, firm recruiters and more. You can construct a complex search to locate just the right attorney. For example, you can search by just one or any combination of the following: attorney name, practice area, geographical area, size of firm, law firm name and law school attended. I searched for firms in Los Angeles, California who listed "Internet" as one of their practice areas, and came up with a list of 24. www.martindale.com/

Bar Association Web Sites

While the content found at national, state and local bar associations' web sites vary greatly, they may provide some or all of the following: (1) professional rules of responsibility; (2) background information about every attorney (from their address to even licensing and discipline records); (3) a calendar of eventsBmeetings and CLE courses; (4) access to the bar journal online and (4) links to law-related Internet sites. The American Bar Association's site is at www.abanet.org/home.html. Use findlaw.com or martindale.com to locate comprehensive listings and links to all state (and many local) bar associations' web sites.

The Ultimates

Use this meta-site to find someone's e-mail address, phone number or address. It links to many different types of people finder directories, including, but not limited to, phone directories and reverse directories. Filling in one search box at The Ultimates site fills in your search information for all of the sites, but you must submit your search one at a time to each site. http://www.theultimates.com

The Delaware Corporate Clearinghouse

This site is a business litigator's dream site. In March 1999 it began offering access to selected opinions, briefs, complaints, settlements, motions and other documents filed in business law matters in the Delaware Court of Chancery. http://corporate-law.widener.edu/case.htm

Search Systems

A good starting point for discovering which states provide free access to public records via the Web. This meta-site also provides links to those states' public record sites. http://www.searchsystems.net

Forms

The Internet Legal Resources Guide provides access to free and fee-based transactional forms, such as quitclaim deeds and employment agreements at www.ilrg.com/forms, while The 'Lectric Law Library's Forms Room purports to be the Net's biggest collection of free transactional and litigation forms, at http://www.lectlaw.com/form.html.

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