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Law Office of Robert J. Ambrogi
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May 2003

A Round-up Of New and Interesting Sites

By Robert J. Ambrogi

This month's column continues to play catch-up, looking at a variety of new and newly discovered Web sites of interest to legal professionals.

Decisions in domain-name disputes are supposed to be available on the Internet, but they can be difficult to track down, published on various sites with no easy search mechanism. A new Web resource, the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy Database, offers a solution, providing free access to decisions issued in accordance with the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), www.icann.org.

As of this writing, the database includes more than 5,000 decisions involving more than 8,000 domain names. The developers plan eventually to include all decisions. One novel feature of the tool is that it searches for names based on how they sound, rather than by their precise spelling. The UDRP database was jointly developed by the the University of Massachusetts Center for Information Technology and Dispute Resolution, the Markle Foundation, Cornell University's Legal Information Institute and The Online Public Disputes Project.

In his day job, William Freivogel is senior vice president, loss prevention, at Aon Risk Services, Chicago. In his spare time, he publishes two useful online guides to legal ethics and conflicts of interest.

Roughly once a month, Freivogel, along with Lucian Pera, a lawyer in Memphis, Tenn., publishes Ethics and Lawyering Today, an electronic newsletter highlighting important new cases, ethics opinions and other developments, often with links to full-text documents. The Web site includes current and past editions of the newsletter are available on the site.

Freivogel also maintains a second, related site, Freivogel on Conflicts, "a practical online guide to conflicts of interest for lawyers with sophisticated business and litigation practices." This is an online treatise discussing conflicts of interest in a range of scenarios and tracking current caselaw on the topic. It is a useful and informative resource, well worth exploring.

The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, is single-minded in its purpose - to study and review state law to determine which areas of law should be uniform, and then, having targeted a topic, to draft and propose specific statutes. The conference can only propose, of course - no uniform law is effective until a state legislature adopts it. But it can nonetheless be controversial, as was proven in 1999 with the debate over its proposed Uniform Commercial Code Article 2b.

This site is the repository of all this law-making, containing all in-process drafts and final acts. Search them by act title, state or committee. They can be read online or downloaded in a choice of word-processing or plain-text formats.

Drafts of uniform and model acts can also be seen at this second NCCUSL site, co-sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania. In-process laws are indexed by title and include all draft versions, from the first to the most recent.

Calling it "the e-business legal portal," the European Commission's Enterprise Directorate General recently launched eBusiness Lex, a 12-language Web portal containing information on the legal aspects of e-business, aimed specifically at small- and medium-sized European companies. The site contains information and resources on a range of issues, including contracts, online payments, privacy and data protection, and intellectual property rights. It includes a section containing European and national legislation relating to e-business. Law texts are shown in their original language, but an abstract is provided in the language of the person viewing the site.

The Birmingham, England-based International Compliance Association, a non-profit professional organization dedicated to the furtherance of best compliance and anti-money-laundering practices in the financial services sector, unveiled a new Web site. Although access to much of the site is restricted to members, anyone can browse its useful collection of links to international regulators, law enforcement and financial intelligence units, financial oversight organizations, and other compliance-related sites.

Two Washington, D.C., lawyers recently created Web sites intended to serve as resources for solo and small-firm lawyers.

Jonathan Bender's site, SohoAttorney, focuses on attorneys practicing from small offices or home offices. Partly a Web log, the site allows other lawyers to register and participate in developing its content. For example, Bender hopes others will add links to Web sites they find useful along with reviews of the linked site. He also plans to add a photo gallery where members can post pictures of themselves. He has also included a user poll, which is currently surveying visitors about their standard hourly rates. When he is not blogging, Bender practices Internet law.

Another D.C. lawyer, Carolyn Elefant, recently hung out MyShingle.com, a site for and about solos and small firms. Elefant intends the site to be a resource for these lawyers to exchange advice, seek guidance or find local counsel in other jurisdictions. The site is part Web log, but includes a variety of useful content, such as Elefant's "On-Line Guide to Creating A Law Practice," containing hundreds of links to manuals, articles, forms, sample agreements and books. Recently, Elefant added her interview with Jay Foonberg, author of the popular ABA book, How to Start and Build a Law Practice.

Law-related Web logs - or "blawgs" as they are often called - established themselves this year as legitimate sources of legal news and information. But tracking the topics they cover remains cumbersome. Either you must follow them religiously or take your chances with a general search engine such as Google.

A new search tool addresses this problem by zeroing in exclusively on law-related Web logs. Called Blawg Search, and still in beta testing as of this writing, it allows you to search across the full text of a variety of blawgs. You can also use it to view all postings for a selected blawg. The front page aggregates the latest blawg headlines. It is being developed by Detod Communications, a company that has built online communities for the Oklahoma Bar Association and the National Association of Bar Executives. Eventually, Blawg Search will be part of a larger site, which a Detod principal describes as "a legal portal like no other."

For a quick review of daily headlines from law-related news and information sites, go to the Daily Whirl. It snags the headlines from a range of legal Web logs and news sources and displays them on a single page. You can customize the configuration, meaning that you can select the blogs you want displayed and your preferred font size, background color and number of columns. This comes from the same folks in St. Louis, Mo., who offer Daily Rotation, www.dailyrotation.com, a similar site with headlines from more than 190 tech sites.

Robert J. Ambrogi, a lawyer in Rockport, Mass., tracks new and intriguing Web sites for lawyers through his LawSites Web log. He is author of The Essential Guide to the Best (and Worst) Legal Sites on the Web, available through LawCatalog.com. E-mail him at rambrogi@legaline.com.

© 2005 Robert J. Ambrogi.