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March 2005

More of My Round-up of Recently Launched Sites

By Robert J. Ambrogi

Last month's column rounded up some recently launched Web sites of interest to legal professionals. This month we continue that theme with several more new sites.

  • Attorney Match. LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell recently unveiled this service for matching lawyers with clients as part of its consumer-oriented Lawyers.com Web site.

    A consumer looking for a lawyer enters the zip code and area of practice, and then fills out a brief form describing the legal issue. The system then lists the 10 closest participating attorneys who match the request, and the consumer selects the ones to receive the inquiry. The selected attorneys receive an e-mail with the details and elect whether to respond.

    Attorneys can subscribe to participate in Attorney Match for $450 a year, which allows listings in three areas of practice.

  • Court Tech Forum. What describes itself as "the largest court information forum in the world" now seeks to become even larger. Formed late in 2003 and supported throughout 2004 by Florida's Ninth Judicial Circuit Court, Court Tech Forum recently reorganized as a private company and is seeking corporate sponsorships to support the site and allow it to expand. Its goal is to be a one-stop resource for court technology information, allowing courts to research technology and users to share information and ask and answer questions.

    Brett Arquette, chief technology officer for the Ninth Judicial Circuit in Orange and Osceola counties, serves as the site's editor in chief. He is assisted by editors Eric Ciminski, director of courtroom technology in Maricopa County, and Christopher Crawford, president of Justice Served, a court management and information technology consulting firm.

  • Electronic Discovery Law. The law firm Preston Gates & Ellis created this new blog, which reports on legal issues, news and best practices relating to the discovery of electronically stored information. But more than a simple blog, the site includes a searchable database of hundreds of state and federal cases relating to electronic discovery issues.
  • LLM Guide. If you find yourself beset by the urge to return to law school, here is a site for you - a database of master of laws programs worldwide. The site allows you to browse through lists of programs arranged by location or search programs by keyword. A list of the most popular programs arranges them by how often they have been viewed. The LLM Guide also features a discussion board, a personal watch list and a tool for requesting more information about a program.
  • OneLook Reverse Dictionary. You know those times when you know there's a word, but you can't for the life of you think of it? Help has arrived.

    This reverse dictionary lets you describe a concept and get back a list of related words and phrases. Your description can be a few words, a sentence, a question or even just a single word.

    The site offers this example from the world of law: Enter the query, "being tried twice for the same crime," and get back a list of results headed by "double jeopardy." The reverse dictionary is part of OneLook Dictionary Search, a search engine that claims to index more than 5 million words in more than 900 online dictionaries.

  • Patriot Debates. Is the USA Patriot Act a critical component of national security or an indefensible infringement of constitutional rights? With several provisions of the act set to expire at the end of 2005, this still-in-beta site was created to serve as a forum in which to debate their continuation.

    Sponsored by the Standing Committee on Law and National Security of the American Bar Association, the site will serve as home to a series of what editor Stewart Baker calls "dueling essays" on the act's most controversial provisions, all written by prominent legal thinkers. The essays will eventually be collected in a book to be published by the ABA.

  • Pretrieve. This new search engine provides a single interface for searching a range of public-records databases, making it easier to search for free public records information available through government and commercial Web sites.

    Use it to search for public records relating to an individual, a business, an address or a phone number. The results page displays a set of tabs, each listing types of available records. Search for a person, for example, and the resulting page shows tabs for Property Info, Criminal, Court, Financial, Professional, Local Info and Miscellaneous. Click the Property Info tab, and it shows links related to your search for real estate sales, satellite images, map information, census data and campaign contributions. Click one of these links, and Pretrieve sends your query to the database that has this information.

    Pretrieve is not exhaustive in its coverage of available public-records sources, but it is useful in pointing you to an array of available databases and submitting your search to them without you having to visit and search each site separately. That alone makes it worth the price of admission -- which happens to be free.

  • Ten Minute Mentor. Imagine if, at the click of a mouse, new lawyers could receive mentoring from some of the legal profession's most highly regarded practitioners. Now they can, thanks to this free series of Web lectures launched March 1 by the Texas Young Lawyers Association, which describes them as "Concise. Practical. Free."

    In cooperation with Texas Bar CLE, TYLA created this library of short video presentations by some of the state's best-known experts on key points of law, firm-building, tactics and personal development. Anyone -- no need to be from Texas to find value in this series -- can hear veteran trial lawyer Harry M. Reasoner of Vinson & Elkins tell how to structure a legal argument, "King of Torts" Joseph D. Jamail discuss the lawyer's role in society, and Haynes Boone co-founder Michael M. Boone tell how to build a law firm that will last. TYLA sent a film crew to law firms throughout Texas to record the lectures. As of the site's launch, it included nearly 100 videos on topics such as "Tips for Conducting an Effective Voir Dire," "10 Things to Know Before Appearing in Federal Court," and "What to Expect at Your First Criminal Plea."

  • The State of Public School Integration. To what extent is the geographic location in which a court enters an order a factor in predicting compliance? When the court order concerns desegregation, location would seem highly relevant. Now, Brown University has brought the social-science discipline of spatial analysis to bear on this question, and has put the resulting data on the Web at this fascinating site.

    Starting with Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, the site tracks court-ordered desegregation throughout the United States and links it to trends in racial composition and segregation among public elementary schools from 1968 to 2000. For every U.S. public school district, the site provides information on any desegregation cases, along with information on the racial and ethnic composition of each district's students.

    Start by selecting a state and then a school district, and the resulting page shows all segregation-related cases from that district, with a description of the case and its status and a link to the full-text opinion on Westlaw, when available. Farther down, the page displays a variety of charts and graphs depicting ethnic and racial composition, economic and class size disparities, and other data. Searches can also span data for an entire metropolitan area.


© 2005 Robert J. Ambrogi.