For an over-arching principle that defines this decade worldwide, we offer this basic concept: Information is the new currency, trumping gold, the US Dollar….even bitcoin! But it’s not the raw torrent of data that is relentlessly available 7X24, courtesy of the World Wide Web and the proliferation of mobile devices that deliver ubiquitous access. This latest version of the Information Age is characterized by curated content – and provided by those specialists who cull the wheat from the chaff and point us to the best sources of credible data. In this posting, we spotlight a resource that specializes in US law (from the US Supreme Court down to the municipal level) as well as international law sources.
Expect to pay more for this resource. And that’s why we recommend the recently published reference book, Internet Legal Research on a Budget, to anyone who values saving time in their quest to locate the best resources that address their research needs. While the tagline says that the book offers ‘Free and Low-Cost Resources for Lawyers’, researchers from other industries as well (such as journalists and political analysts) will appreciate how the authors couple their goldmine of vetted sites with relevant search strategies embedded in screen shots.
Basic keyword searches can point researchers to the most popular free legal portals like Justia and FindLaw. But authors Levitt and Davis stress that not all websites are created equal in the integrity and up-to-date status of their links. We like how they go the extra mile and share which free and low-cost websites are worth using and when it makes sense to make that trek over to your local law library and use their free access to such otherwise-prohibitively expensive databases like Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis. Or bite the bullet and pay a lawyer to do so.
Readers with more arcane needs, such as finding where to investigate their stock broker (Refer to the Securities Law section of the book), will want to keep this book close by. Others with more common needs, such as boning up on bankruptcy laws, will be served just fine by a site like Nolo Press that contains thousands of free articles on a wide variety of legal topics.
Levitt and Davis successfully argue their case that their book is a “roadmap to the best of what’s out there.” Given the combined expertise of these seasoned lawyers/law research professionals, we like our odds that our trips to discovery will be fruitful (and drama-free).
Internet Legal Research on a Budget
Authors: Carole A. Levitt and Judy K. Davis
Publisher: ABA Law Practice Division, 2014, ISBN: 978-1-62722-616-5
Order information: ShopABA.org