Teaching Legal Professionals How To Do Research
Teaching Legal Professionals How To Do Research

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Browser Power ... an Internet Research Article

This article has been archived and may no longer be updated.


Genie Tyburski, Web Manager, The Virtual Chase


   Originally published by Law Office Computing (Aug/Sep 2001) under the title, "Tackling Toolbars." Revised to reflect resources and strategies current as of the date appearing at the end of the page.


29 November 2001.
Lawyer X concentrates on the legal document that appears on in his monitor. He labors to remain calm while Z looks anxiously over his shoulder.

Not that he has anything to worry about. Z just bugs him. He fidgets constantly.

Lawyer Z has to file an answer to a complaint. As usual, the deadline looms, but he has waited until almost the last minute before performing necessary research.

"The client says," Z begins referring to an item in the document, "That there's been recent news coverage."

X highlights the company name, clicks the word-processor's copy icon, loads his browser, pastes the name into a search box on the toolbar, and clicks another button. Within seconds, current news headlines pertaining to the company appear in the browser window.

"This article looks relevant," X says as he sends it to the printer. He failed to notice Z's mouth drop open.

Recovering, Z asks, "How did you do that?"

"Do what?" Lawyer X responds genuinely as he reaches across the desk to retrieve the article from the printer.

Baffled, Z elaborates, "Make those articles appear like that? We were just looking at my document. Then you clicked a couple of buttons. And voilą! Instant news articles. How did you do that?"

"When you have some time, come around, and I'll show you," Lawyer X offers, deftly putting him off by reminding Z he has more immediate work to accomplish.


Despite Z's awe, Lawyer X performed no sleight of hand in finding the news article. He simply took advantage of a component of Internet Explorer 5.x, which enables the installation or creation of toolbars. By installing several freely available toolbars, and by creating one of his own, Lawyer X built a powerful research tool.

The toolbars he tacked on to the browser include FindLaw, Google, and LEXLink. The FindLaw toolbar actually facilitated the quick retrieval of the news article Z witnessed. Lawyer X highlighted and copied a company name appearing in the word-processed document. Then he opened Internet Explorer and pasted the company name into a search box available on the FindLaw toolbar. From a pull-down menu of news sources next to the search box, he selected one to run the query. The query ran from the toolbar returning the search results without the usual connection first to the news Web site.

In fact, had the situation called for additional research, Lawyer X could have sent the same query to Google by highlighting the company name in the news article, and then, by right clicking over the highlighted words (instead of the usual left click). A pop-up menu with an option for Google would have appeared. This maneuver commands Google to search its index of Web pages for mention of the company. The ability to run a query without first connecting to the search engine exists as a function of the Google toolbar.

Moreover, had Z wanted to read or Shepardize any legal citations appearing in the word-processed document, Lawyer X could have clicked a button on the LEXLink toolbar, which appears in both his word-processor and his browser. This commands LEXLink to create hyperlinks to the cited cases, statutes, and other legal documents. Z then could read the materials, or review the Shepard's results, without first connecting to Lexis and entering lexsee or other previously necessary commands.

Magic? Not a bit. Efficient? Without a doubt.

Lawyers, who find themselves constantly challenged by demands on their time, should update their browser to the latest version and take advantage of its special features. Browsers are, after all, becoming the universal interface to digital information.

What other research shortcuts do newer browsers facilitate? You can run a search from the address line. But to obtain meaningful results, you should compose a targeted query. Locate a brand's Web site, for example, by entering the brand name. Enter a company name, the title of a report, or the name of a database.

You can even retrieve a list of public company EDGAR filings by entering a company name (not the ticker symbol) preceded by the letters, sec. For example, sec amazon returns a hyperlinked list of Amazon.com EDGAR filings.

Having trouble locating a document at a particular Web site? Connect to the site, enter key terms in the search box provided by the Google toolbar, and click the Search Site button. This limits the scope of your query to that domain. Whether or not you find a document this way, of course, depends on whether Google knows about its existence.

After scouting around for awhile, you may find you want to move back a few pages and then forward again. Do this quickly using the BACKSPACE key, or ALT plus the left-arrow key to go back one page at a time, or ALT plus the right-arrow key to move forward. You also can move the cursor quickly to the address line using ALT plus the D key.

Want to review some Web pages during your morning commute (not while driving!), but do not have a wireless modem? Bookmark them. Then right-click each bookmark and select the option for making the page available offline. Alternatively, select Save As from the File menu. To save any graphics that appear on the page, choose the complete option.

Check one or two Web sites with frequency? During the next visit, right-click over the loaded page and select the option to create a shortcut on the desktop. Now you can access the site simply by clicking the desktop icon.

Alternatively, click and hold the left mouse button over the icon that appears to the left of the Web address. Then drag the icon to the Links toolbar. The next time you want to visit the site, click the button on this - your personal - toolbar. You may remove or rename items on this toolbar by clicking the right mouse button over them.

Lawyer X mutters his annoyance with an ad that suddenly appears in a new browser window. He closes it quickly with Control plus the W key.

Then much to his dismay, Z returns.

"Lawyer X," he calls. "I tried a couple of those browser tricks you showed me. Neat stuff." Pompously, he adds, "Impressed my girlfriend with one or two."

Lawyer X is at a loss for words. Eventually, he manages, "Z, I'm kinda busy right now."

"Oh, sure. I'm going," Z says appearing to cooperate. Instead, he continues, "I'm practicing that right-click you showed me."

Z raises his hand and demonstrates by performing a few imaginary right clicks in the air.

At that moment, Partner Gruff walks into X's office. "Got a problem, Lawyer Z?" he barks.

Startled, Z turns around whipping his hand to his side. He departs hastily, muttering something about a brief.

Lawyer X witnesses the quick grin that appears on the often-grumpy lawyer's face.


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Created: 29 November 2001
URL: https://www.virtualchase.com/articles/archive/browser_tricks.html

Suggestions: Genie Tyburski, tvceditor [at] virtualchase [dot] com