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legal.online, July 1996
Copyright 1996 Robert J. Ambrogi
Best Of The Web For Lawyers
By Robert J. Ambrogi
What are the best Web sites for lawyers?
Legal.online, the sister newsletter to this column, assembled a panel of lawyers who are experts on the Internet and asked them to decide. They were asked to pick their top three sites in an assortment of categories, with a focus on the sites' usefulness to lawyers.
Choosing from among the many superb, law-related sites was not an eviable task. Here are the judges' picks of the best.
Best Law Firm Sites
Large Firm (100+ lawyers)
Arent Fox, http://www.arentfox.com
An estimated 3,000 people a day visit this site, where they find a combination of sophisticated, easy-to-follow graphics, informative and diverse content, and areas for interactive participation. Among the highlights: the "Feature of the Month," an in-depth examination of a legal topic, and "InfoNet," where visitors can participate in any of several online discussion groups or fill out a request to receive future information updates.
Medium Firm (11-99 lawyers)
Moye, Giles, O'Keefe, Vermeire & Gorrell, http://www.mgovg.com.
This 29-lawyer, Denver, Colo., firm has a Web site that is simple in appearance but remarkable for the depth and originality of its content. It is home to the Internet versions of several nationally recognized treatises on banking and commercial law and limited-liability companies. There's even a lighter side: "Funny Stuff" avoids tacky lawyer jokes in favor of clever and humorous legal writing and war stories.
Solo and small firm (10 or fewer lawyers)
The Tax Prophet, http://www.taxprophet.com.
Can learning tax ever be fun? Well, yes, at least if the learning is being done through San Francisco solo Robert L. Sommers' Web site. He combines snappy graphics with an abundance of content and a bit of humor to create a site that lawyers and lay people alike will find useful.
Best Legal Research Sites
Best research site for cases
Law Group Network (Lawyers Legal Research), http://www.llr.com.
This is the only place on the Internet where you can find housed under one roof the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court since 1990, all the federal appeals courts beginning from 1992, and all 50 state high courts, mostly recent, but one dating back to 1939. The Net's best collection of cases is enhanced by one of the best search engines you will come across. The site remains free, but first-time users will be required to register.
Best research site for laws
U.S. House of Representatives, Internet Law Library, http://law.house.gov.
For most lawyers, there is reason aplenty to visit this site in its full-text offerings of the U.S. Code and the Code of Federal Regulations. But while those may be the most commonly used sources of law found here, they represent only the tip of information iceberg. This site houses an extensive collection of federal, state and international legal materials and resources.
Best research site, overall
FindLaw is actually several sites in one. Its core is the FindLaw index, an extensive collection of links to Internet legal resources. The index can be searched by topic or by key word. From here, visitors can jump to LawCrawler, the judges' pick for best legal search tool (see below). Also from FindLaw, visitors can search the full text of law reviews on the Internet or subscribe to receive free updates of law review and law journal article abstracts by e-mail.
Best Law-related Company Site
Counsel Connect Web, http://www.counsel.com.
Counsel Connect is best known as a proprietary online service hosted by American Lawyer Media, publisher of American Lawyer magazine and producer of Court TV. Counsel Connect Web is described as "the Internet gateway" for lawyers who subscribe to the online service. But as its selection here suggests, the Web site has a life of its own, having evolved into a vital resource for lawyers on the Internet, independent of its relation to the online service. Counsel Connect Web is updated daily, so check back often.
Best Government Site
GPO Access, http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs
If you are looking for information from the executive branch of the U.S. government, there is no better single source than this, the home page of the superintendent of documents and part of the U.S. Government Printing Office Web site. You can search the full text of the Federal Register, General Accounting Office Reports, Comptroller General Decisions, and Privacy Act Notices. Or you can access the Federal Bulletin Board, a service designed to enable the White House and federal agencies to provide immediate, public access to government information in electronic form.
Best Association Site
The American Bar Association officially unveiled its Web site at its annual meeting last August, replacing its outmoded ABANet dial-in service, and as the site approaches its first birthday, it continues to improve. You will find everything you would expect at an association site, and much more. You can explore and learn about all of the ABA's many entities and sections, review its calendar, read its latest news releases, or shop in its online store. Or you can read some of the many full text articles and newsletters. You can even subscribe to an ABA-hosted Internet discussion group right from the Web site.
Best Search Tool
Best legal-specific search tool
Unlike other Internet search tools such as AltaVista or Yahoo, LawCrawler searches only legal sites on the Internet. If you prefer, you can restrict your search even further; instead of all legal sites, you can search only state legal sites or federal legal sites. Combined with its sister site, FindLaw (discussed above), this is the best place on the Internet to start your legal research.
Best general search tool for lawyers
When you need to find a needle in the haystack of the Internet, AltaVista is the place to turn. It claims to have indexed more than 30 million Web pages found on 225,000 servers and another three million articles from some 14,000 Usenet news groups..
Best Legal News Site
Law Journal EXTRA!, http://www.ljx.com.
This is the Web site of the company that publishes the National Law Journal, the New York Law Journal and Law Technology Product News, but it is much more than an online legal newspaper. Sure, it is that. The site is updated daily with headlines and stories from the world of law, and there is a generous archive of articles from the NLJ and the NYLJ examining major legal developments in depth. But behind the news are a wide-ranging collection of resources for lawyers. LJX has something to offer every lawyer.
(Author's note: Space prevents me from listing the runners-up in each category. An expanded version of this article appeared in the July issue of the newsletter, legal.online, and can be seen at legal.online's Web site.)
Robert J. Ambrogi, a lawyer in Rockport, Mass., is editor of legal.online, a monthly newsletter about the Internet published by Legal Communications Ltd., Philadelphia. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (978) 546-7898.
The best Web sites for lawyers were chosen by a panel of lawyers who are all experts in their own right on the Internet. The panel was composed of: