Robert Ambrogi's LawSites
fillTracking new and intriguing Web sites for the legal profession.


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Robert Ambrogi,
a lawyer
in Rockport, MA, is vice president for editorial services at Jaffe Associates and director of WritersForLawyers.

He is author of the book, The Essential Guide to the Best (and Worst) Legal Sites on the Web


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Friday, July 18, 2003
 
AltaVista claims its multimedia index is world's largest
Search engine AltaVista last month unveiled what it claimed to be the world's largest multimedia index, cataloging more than 540 million image files and 11 million video and audio files, including MP3s and MPEG videos. The index also includes professional image content from providers such as Corbis. To access the multimedia index, users can click on the "Image," "MP3/Audio," or "Video" tabs located above the search box at altavista.com, or log on directly at images.altavista.com, audio.altavista.com and video.altavista.com.

Image galleries such as this and Google Image Search -- which also claims to be the most comprehensive -- are useful for lawyers to create trial exhibits or other visual aids. Use them to find pictures of medical conditions, places, designs and more.

Thursday, July 17, 2003
 
The risky business of law
Whether or not you are a solo lawyer, take the time to read the April/May 2003 GPSOLO magazine. It features nine articles that collectively offer a creative look at the risks of practicing law. It avoids the predictable "traps for the unwary" in favor of articles that examine such subjects as the risks of pro bono, the dangers of settlements, and even the risk of being funny. Articles include:

  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Rewards and Risks of Pro Bono, by Ann Massie Nelson.

  • Insurance Options for the Solo, by Mitchell A. Orpett and Katja Kunzke.

  • Top Trends in Malpractice, by Mary Kathleen Hartley.

  • Danger: Business Arrangements Ahead, by Darrell G. Stewart.

  • Should Disclosure of Malpractice Insurance Be Mandatory?, a point/counterpoint by James E. Towery and Edward C. Mendrzycki.

  • Settlement: Safe or Sorry?, by Andrew C. Simpson.

  • Can Business as Usual Lead You to Extinction?, by Charles F. Robinson.

  • Inspect, Detect, Protect: Managing Environmental Risks, by Howard Kenison.

  • The Risks of Being Funny, by Andrew J. McClurg.

  •  
    I've added commenting
    Please note that I've added commenting by Haloscan. Drop by and say hello.

    Wednesday, July 16, 2003
     
    Daubert Tracker to unveil major enhancements this week
    In a review I wrote last February (Daubert Tool Lets Lawyers Track Expert's History, I recommended lawyers try The Daubert Tracker, an expert-witness service whose central feature is a database of all reported decisions interpreting and applying Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals and Kumho Tire v. Carmichael, backed up when available by full-text briefs, transcripts and docket entries. Subsequent to that review, the Daubert Tracker added recent cases applying Frye v. United States, the 1928 Supreme Court decision requiring the exclusion of scientific evidence that is unproven or experimental.

    Now, the service is preparing to unveil major enhancements at ATLA's annual meeting July 19-23 in San Francisco, including the addition of thousands of cases. Planned enhancements are:

  • Addition of state cases, such as the 1976 California decision adopting Frye, People v. Kelly, and its progeny. CEO Myles Levin said his staff identified the seminal cases for each state, collected all cases that cited them, and tracked down the experts' names and areas of expertise.
  • Addition of unreported cases, including pretrial evidentiary hearings. The database will include more than 4,000 unreported cases, Levin said.
  • Ability to search by rule. Levin's staff found that many Daubert-type cases cited the applicable rule of evidence most often Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence but never mentioned the Daubert decision. He located 3,600 such cases and was adding them to the database, along with the ability to search cases by cited rule.

    As I wrote in my original review, a key area in which the The Daubert Tracker distinguishes itself from other case law databases is that, even if the case never mentions the expert's name or expertise, The Daubert Tracker provides it. "We track down the name of the expert even if it is not mentioned in the case," Levin said. "Also, we accurately assign a discipline. We don't take for granted the judge's characterization of the discipline."

    Also since my original review, the service changed its subscription structure to include a $10 half-hour session. A two-hour session remains $25 and a year subscription is $495. For $10, a lawyer would be remiss not to check an expert through the Daubert Tracker.

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    Debevoise associate proves herself a Supreme predicter
    FantasyCourt.Com -- the Web site where lawyers compete to predict the outcome of Supreme Court cases -- today announced the winner of its 2002-2003 challenge. Kristin Kiehn, an associate with Debevoise & Plimpton in New York, will receive $2,500 for coming in first out of 516 participants. She correctly predicted the outcome in 47 of 79 Supreme Court cases and the split of justices in 16 of 79 cases. A news release said that Kiehn correctly predicted some of the year's most important cases, including Grutter v. Bollinger, the University of Michigan affirmative action case, and Lawrence v. Texas, the challenge to Texas' same-sex sodomy law. FantasyCourt.com is the creation of Robert J. Scott, a principal of Lawfinders Associates.

    Tuesday, July 15, 2003
     
    Oyez Project adds MP3s of Supreme Court arguments
    The Oyez Project has provided streaming audio of Supreme Court arguments since 1996, but it recently took a leap forward by adding Supreme Court audio in MP3 format. The first set of releases, which can be found here, includes 51 cases. They are release under a Creative Commons license that allows listeners to download, share and create derivative works using these audio files.

    The OYEZ Project continues to provide streaming access to more than 2,000 hours of Supreme Court audio. It includes all audio recorded in the court since 1995 and selective audio before then. The project's aim is to create a complete collection of all audio since 1955.

     
    How many blogs are there in the world?
    According to the NITLE Weblog Census -- an attempt to find as many active Web logs as possible across all languages -- it has so far found 629,083, of which 320,634 "seem to be in English." [via net.law.blog.]

     
    Free legal software? Here?
    Interesting trivia: If you Google the query, "free legal software," my site comes up second, right after Nolo. (Thanks to a reader who followed this route to my site for letting me know this.)

    This made me wonder: Where would I end up with the query, "free beer." The answer is here.

    Monday, July 14, 2003
     
    A conversation with Steven Brill
    For those whose interests straddle law and journalism, Steven Brill is a man of rather epic reputation. The cigar-chomping, ever-suspendered founder of American Lawyer magazine, Court TV, Counsel Connect (one of the first online services for lawyers) and Brill's Content, he recently published the book, After: How America Confronted the September 12 Era. As Jesse Oxfeld observes in his introduction to A Conversation With Steven Brill, published today on mediabistro.com, "Brill has a history of doing big things." This is the complete transcript of the interview, conducted July 8 in Manhattan.

     
    Another state court publishes its briefs online
    After posting my article yesterday, A Brief Summary: Free Briefs on the Web, I received an e-mail from M. Sean Fosmire, developer of the preeminent online court directory, Courts.Net, pointing out that I missed one state court that provides briefs on its Web site, Michigan. I have now added it to the article.

    Sunday, July 13, 2003
     
    Round-up of new and newly discovered legal Web sites
    I have posted two recent columns devoted to new and newly discovered Web sites of interest to lawyers, A Hodgepodge of Newly Launched Sites and A Round-up of New and Interesting Sites.

     
    Managing knowledge management via the Web
    I have posted my recent column, Managing Knowledge Management Via the Web, a guide to Web resources on legal knowledge management.

     
    Guide to finding free legal briefs on the Web
    I have posted my June column, A Brief Summary: Free Briefs on the Web.