GPSolo Magazine - April/May 2006
Internet Law Researcher
Internet Law Researcher (ILR) is a monthly newsletter available both as hard copy and online. I must admit that, because I follow both Inter-Alia.net (a blawg by ILR contributing editor Tom Mighell that describes itself as “[a] legal research weblog, among other things”) and Robert Ambrogi’s Lawsites (the granddaddy of blawgs), I initially doubted whether I would find ILR to be worth the $172 yearly subscription rate (for 11 issues). In the end, my answer to that question comes from the old saw “time is money”: ILR will save any lawyer who does factual or legal research on the Internet—which means just about all of us—hours that otherwise would be spent figuring out where to start researching various topics.
Each issue of ILR contains eight regular features. In “From the Editor,” Don MacLeod addresses policy issues facing Internet legal researchers, such as the importance of keeping public records public and of offering free Internet access at public libraries.
Next comes “The Internet Guide to . . . ,” which focuses on a different substantive area each month. Recent topics include securities law, litigation resources, pro bono resources, and aviation law. The “Internet Guide” is a compilation of websites, blawgs, and listserves related to each topic, with a paragraph or so describing each entry.
“Around the Legal Webs,” by Melanie Putnam, takes more of a scattershot approach, discussing a wide range of law-related websites, from the Animal Legal and Historical Web Center ( www.animallaw.info), to the IP Litigation Blog ( www.iplitigationblog.com), to the self-explanatory www.morepartnerincome.com. This column also features a government website of the month.
In “Search Engine Update,” ILR reports and comments on developments in the search engine world, from new Google offerings, to the pros and cons of lesser-known search engines such as Jayde ( www.jayde.com, one of the oldest online business-to-business directories), to the importance of the Open Directory Project ( www.dmoz.org).
“Finding Information on the World Wide Web” tackles how to find high-quality, trustworthy information sources on the web. From how to find accounting information to the best sources for congressional information, this column is a mini “Internet Guide” on each covered topic.
In each issue of ILR, jennifer j. rose, the editor-in-chief of GPSolo magazine and the list manager of GP|Solo’s Solosez listserve, puts her real-life experience to work in a column called “The Mailing List Review.” Because law-related listserves—with their ability to give individual lawyers access to the thoughts of hundreds of their colleagues—can be a solo or small firm practitioner’s secret weapon, rose’s insightful commentaries on listserve-related issues such as the use of disclaimers in mailing list signatures (“outdated”) and her brief descriptions of law-related listserves are particularly welcome.
“The E-Mail File” is ILR’s “Dear Abby” feature, answering one reader-submitted question each month.
Finally, “The Internet Legal Bibliography” collects citations to pieces in traditional publications that address Internet-related issues. This is a must-have not only for attorneys who fashion themselves cyberlaw experts, but for all attorneys whose practices involve exchanging information over the Internet (again, just about all of us).
ILR is published by Thomson/Legalworks, part of the West Education Group. Legalworks’ goal is to inform and train leading lawyers about changes in the law and how to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their firms. ILR is also available through Westlaw and may be included in some subscription plans.
West has long been known for its “value-added” offerings (think keywords on Westlaw), and ILR continues that tradition. The contributing editors essentially “filter” the web for lawyers, and their credentials make ILR a trustworthy source of information.
The online version of ILR is posted to the Glasser LegalWorks website in PDF format, with the convenience of being able to link directly to the sites reviewed.
ILR’s presentation does leave something to be desired. My print copies of ILR came with a huge beige, orange, and black three-ring binder. Online, the three-column layout is a bit difficult to read if the Adobe navigation bar is present, but you can always close that feature and expand the page width to fit your screen.
More significantly, the online version of ILR was not up-to-date. As of early December 2005, the most recent issue available on the LegalWorks website was from September 2005.
Nevertheless, the content is excellent. Internet Law Researcher is a handy resource to help lawyers wade through the ocean of legal information on the World Wide Web.
Lisa Solomon is a sole practitioner in Ardsley, New York, who does legal research and writing for other lawyers on an outsourcing basis. Her practice includes drafting and arguing appeals and dispositive motions in all civil areas. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: West Group is a corporate sponsor of the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division; this article appears in connection with the Division’s sponsorship agreement with West Group. Neither the ABA nor ABA entities endorse non-ABA products or services, and this review should not be so construed.