Archive for the ‘Legal Research’ Category

Million lawyer march to LinkedIn?

December 9, 2009

According to Larry Bodine, there are now 1,359,590 lawyers with profiles on LinkedIn!   Okay, I’m a geeky data guy and this number seems awfully high to me.  He sources “Apollo Business Development” which appears to be a market research company he co-owns.

When I ran a search in LinkedIn just using the keyword, “Law” I came up with 1,074,531 hits and that term will include lots of non-lawyers.  My search on “lawyer OR attorney” came up with far less.

Larry, can you let us know your methodology for coming up with this figure?

 Update:  Thanks to Larry for explaining (see comment below) how he arrived at that figure which is a very cool tip for determining numbers on LinkedIn.  Unfortunately, I’m not convinced that everyone listing themselves as providing “legal services” are lawyers.  They could be paralegals, marketing consultants, court reporters etc.

Google takes on Lexis and Westlaw

November 17, 2009

Not quite but Google has added free case law to its Google Scholar offering.  Quickly searching this database I was struck by two things:

*In terms of content, this is a limited database which could serve as a quick and cheap alternative when I need to find out something about a legal issue.  It isn’t appropriate for any question when the goal is to be exhaustive. 

*The Google interface is far superior to anything the proprietary legal vendors offer.  It’s very straightforward and easy to use in a way that I hope is keeping Lexis and Westlaw product developers up at night.

Email subject line: to paste or not to paste

November 4, 2009

Here is a great tip from Joshua Fruchter of LawyerCasting about not pasting text into the subject line when sending out an email blast.  Its possible that non-supported characters could get included so, for example, a readers sees, “Important change in ?employment? law.”

To play devil’s advocate, the reason I use copy and paste is to avoid the obvious typo my lousy typing frequently produces.  What about just saying make sure your email application will display your cut and pastes correctly and adequately testing your email communications before sending them off into cyberspace?

Cornell improves international law site

January 14, 2009


Its nice to have a launching pad when you have to research something completely new and different.  Cornell Law School Libray provides that for researching international law.  They’ve upgraded their offerings as follows:

*Provided resources at Cornell Law Library

*Guides and other Resources providing links to recent guides on foreign legal research etc.

This is in addition to their standard four starting points; Library of Congress to Law Online, Foreign Law Guide, World Legal Information Institute and CIA World Factbook.

Cornell Foreign Law Website  (hat tip to resource shelf)

PACER at 20: Accessing Federal Courts

December 23, 2008

PACER stands for, “Public Access to Court Electronic Records” and allows a citizen to set up an account with the system to access every Federal court in the country.

Pluses:  Nearly all recent (last couple years) complaints are electronically available on Pacer.  The docket information is thorough and well presented with much the documentary information about amended complaints, responsive pleadings and court orders made available.  If you have a docket number and the name of the court, its fairly easy to find the docket.   All the information, no matter which court, is provided in the same format.  The costs to access the service are relatively small (in comparison to commercial online services).

Minuses:  Searching, searching, searching.  First, they don’t normalize entity names so if you search on “Federal Express” you won’t get all the filings that are “Fedex”.  Second, if you search by Court, you will get links with variations and then you need to click each of them to see what filings they include.  Despite all the advances made to search engine technology, none of that is reflected in PACER.  There are no suggested terms provided, or suggested spellings and the search results aren’t presented in a helpful way.  Finally, you have to pay to use the service.  Up in the pluses I state that its not expensive but I do have a question about charging for public information.  Isn’t that unfair to those without the financial resources?  PACER has its critics and one of them has established a website where he is encouraging attorneys to donate court filings that he posts for free.

News release about PACER’s twenty years.

Public Resource.org

November 27, 2008

Here is a site ( http://public.resource.org/ ) that has a great mission and has already collect an impressive amount of state and local administrative codes.  I think its resources should be much greater. 

While Lexis and Westlaw play a role; providing quick and efficient access to public information for professionals who can and should pay for that access, its seems to me that the public should, when necessary have access to the same information.  Not with the same bells  and the whistles perhaps; not the ability to see annotations or download multiple cases or perform sophisticated research.  That’s fair.  But if they  are sued or feel the need to sue, they should be able to lookup case law, statutory law, administrative law, court records and filings.  To that end, I think Los Angeles County Superior Court’s effort to monetize its court filings is wrong.  Even Pacer should provisions for free public access and charge attorneys a fee.   Okay, that my Thanksgiving rant for the day!


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