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November 1996

Copyright 1996 Robert J. Ambrogi

Non-Legal Web Sites Can Help A Busy Lawyer

By Robert J. Ambrogi

How do you spell "relief"?

If you don't know, you can find out on the Internet, just by going to the online version of Merriam-Webster's dictionary, And if, once you've found the word, it's not what you wanted, just click the "thesaurus" button to bring up a list of related words.

In fact, the Internet offers relief for all sorts of common questions and tasks that come up in a law office. You can send a package, book a flight, or locate a local courthouse.

Following are some of the non-legal sites that lawyers and other legal professionals are sure to find useful. We have avoided the well-traveled lists of search engines and directories in favor of sites that are slightly off the virtual beaten path.

Office Help

$ U.S. Postal Service,

In cyber-lingo, we call it "snail mail," but since we all still use it every day, the USPS should definitely be on your bookmark list. Here you can use the Postage Calculator to compute the postage for any domestic mailing and some foreign addresses. You can track that Express Mail you sent yesterday. You can look up the Zip+4 code for any street address. The Business Section has mail forms for downloading in Adobe Acrobat format and an assortment of business publications online. Among the newest feature is "Global ePOST," an international, electronic-to-hardcopy volume mail service available to several major European countries and Australia.

$ FedEx Airbill Tracking,

Not to be outdone by the Postal Service, Federal Express lets you track the status of your package any time of day, anywhere in the world. You can even follow your package's journey while it is in transit.

$ AT& T toll-free directory,

Save money on phone bills by using this searchable directory of 800 numbers.

$ Yahoo's criss-cross phone directory,

Did you ever have a phone number and need to know whose it was? Here is where you could have found out. Key in the number and up comes the owner.


$ MapBlast!,

It's 11 p.m. and you realize you have no idea where the courthouse is that you have to be in at 8:30 the next morning. No need to worry. Key in the address, and this site will create a detailed street map showing the precise location. You can even e-mail the map to your associate.

$ How Far Is It?,

OK, you found the courthouse, but now you need to know how to drive there and how long it will take. This site will calculate the distance between any two cities in the world. If they are both in the U.S., it will even provide detailed driving directions and draw a map showing the locations of each place.

$ Travelocity,

Can't drive to where you're going? Here's the place to book a flight, reserve a hotel room, and even get information on dining out. This site lets you use the SABRE reservation service to check schedules for more than 700 airlines and make reservations on more than 370. Using "FlightFinder," you can search for the lowest fares available between cities. You can also make reservations with some 28,000 hotels and 50 car rental companies. The "Destinations" section has photographs, travel guides, and things to do, including information on restaurants, museums, theaters, golf courses and more.

$ CNN Weather,

Whether you are traveling across country or just driving to your office, you will want to know the weather. Here is one of the best places to find what it will be. Key in a city and find out all about its weather, complete with maps and predictions.

$ Local times around the world,

Now you know how to get there and what the weather will be like, but, what time will it be? This guide finds the local time anywhere in the world.

Reference Library

$ Research-It!,

Every so often, you absolutely need to know the source of a quote or the birthday of a famous person. Here's the place to turn with those nagging little questions. It is actually a collection of search tools arranged in seven categories: language, people, library, geography, financial, shipping and mailing, and Internet. Under the language category, there are dictionaries, a thesaurus, translators, conjugators, and anagram creators. Under people, you can search for birthdays or biographies. The geography section helps you find maps and phone numbers. Under financial, you can compute currency exchange rates, get stock quotes or search for ticker symbols. This site is both useful and fun.

$ CIA World Fact Book,

Find out just about anything about just about anyplace, courtesy of the CIA. The Fact Book has maps, government information, geography, climate, population, mortality and literacy rates, and lots more for every country in the world.

$ Online calculators,

The most extensive collection of calculators you'll ever find, this site allows you to calculate everything from your personal net worth to the best distribution of grass seed over your lawn to your precise position on the surface of the globe.

$ Internet Public Library Reference Center,

A useful collection of reference materials, organized into the following topics: Reference; Arts & Humanities; Business & Economics; Computers & Internet; Education; Entertainment & Leisure; Health & Medical Sciences; Law, Government & Political Science; Sciences & Technology; Social Sciences; and Associations.

$ AMA Physician Select,

Locate a doctor by name, specialty, location or even illness from this database of virtually every physician licensed in the U.S. -- more than 650,000 MDs.

Company Information

$ CompanyLink,

This site claims to have information on 45,000 U.S. companies, cross-indexed to news wires, press releases, and other sources of information.

$ Hoovers Online,

Hoovers guide to company information includes more than 10,000 "company capsules". and links to even more Web sites.

$ Wall Street Research Net,

This site promises more than 110,000 links all designed to help professionals and investors perform research on actively traded companies and locate important economic data. Search of a company name may bring up links to company profiles, SEC filings, stock charts and graphs, press releases, news stories, and other available information.

URLs You'll Someday Need

$ InterNIC Registration Services,

This is the place to go to register a domain name or check whether a name is registered. Whether your firm is going on the Internet or a client is, you will need to visit and explore this site.

$ Thomson & Thomson,

Although InterNIC is the "official" site for researching domain names, this trademark and copyright research firm's domain-name database is a bit more user friendly.

$ The GNN/Koblas Currency Converter,

Click on the desired currency and the converter will calculate the relative value of all other currencies.

$ The Informant,

Say you are an environmental lawyer and you want to keep up with Internet developments related to your field. You go to this site, you enter up to three sets of key words, and the Informant sends you periodic e-mail notifying you of relevant news. What it actually does is, at selected intervals of 3, 7, 14 or 30 days, it searches AltaVista and Lycos for the 10 Web pages that are most relevant to your key words. If a new or changed page appears in the top 10, the Informant notifies you by e-mail. You can also use this service to track specific Web pages. Enter up to five URLs, and the Informant will notify you when the pages have been updated.

$ World Wide Holidays and Events,

Don't schedule a deposition on Dec. 23 in Japan -- it's the Emperor's birthday. If you'd used this directory of holidays and celebrations, you'd have known that.

$ Pretty Good Privacy Inc.,

If you are a lawyer using e-mail, you should be using encryption software. This is the place to obtain and learn more about the most popular e-mail encryption software. You can download PGP free from this site or purchase a fully supported version.

Robert J. Ambrogi, a lawyer in Rockport, Mass., is editor of, a monthly newsletter about the Internet published by Legal Communications Ltd., Philadelphia. He can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (978) 546-7898.