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10 Essential Web Sites for Litigators 


Genie Tyburski, Web Manager, The Virtual Chase


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2 June 2008. Below are the top 10 Web sites I would recommend as essential research tools for litigators. My reasons, of course, stem from my own experiences. YMMV.*

  1. U.S. Party/Case Index

  2. Justia

  3. Legal Dockets Online

  4. Cornell Legal Information Institute

  5. GPO Access

  6. Full-text State Statutes and Legislation

  7. Electronic Discovery Law

  8. The Bluebook

  9. BRB Publications Inc.

  10. ZoomInfo

What's Missing

You might wonder why Lexis and Westlaw aren't on the list. Or, why well known legal information sites, such as FindLaw and Law.com, are missing. Or, for that matter, why Google doesn't appear on the list.

Mostly, I excluded them because they do not comprise the type of resources lawyers have in mind when they ask for suggestions. They mean, What do I not already know about that's highly relevant to my work and free?

Of course, some litigators already know about some or all of the resources on this list. But if you scan the rest of this article, I'm willing to bet you'll pick up a couple of tips.

The Essential 10

U.S. Party/Case Index: While not free, this index to the federal court docket system is an indispensable tool for any litigator. Use it to search past and pending federal case information for all but 4 courts (2d, 5th, 11th, and Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals) as of this writing. Dockets for the U.S. Supreme Court also do not appear in the index.

In addition to discovering the status or docket activity of cases, the Index serves as a useful investigative tool. You may discover a research subject's involvement in federal civil cases, bankruptcies or criminal matters. Reviewing certain filed documents, such as the service of process, may help you determine where to find someone.

Access requires registration with the PACER Service Center. There is a small per page charge for displaying documents.

Justia: Relatively new to the legal Web scene, Justia deserves mention for several reasons. It stands alone in offering a free keyword-searchable database of federal district court filings. You will find court opinions from 2004 to present as well as other filings. (See also: Free Case Law Databases)

Other offerings worthy of special mention include a database of federal appellate court opinions, RSS feeds for monitoring civil court filings by the type of lawsuit (Select any available topic and go to the bottom of the page to find the feeds.), RSS feeds for tracking federal regulations, and a blog search engine for law-related blogs.

Legal Dockets Online: Want to know whether a certain court has its decisions or docket sheets online, or whether online criminal records exist for a particular jurisdiction? Then bookmark LDO. Access requires a reasonable annual subscription fee.

As an aside, the LDO Blog is free. It helps you stay current with changes that affect online court access.

Cornell Legal Information Institute: This long-standing free legal information Web site offers much to interest a litigator. Find a searchable version of the U.S. Code. Its content comes from the official version made available by the U.S. House of Representatives. But Cornell LII makes the publication easier to use. It also provides an RSS feed for each title so that you may track updates.

In addition, you will find other primary documents, such as federal rules, the Uniform Commercial Code and U.S. Supreme Court opinions, as well as links to important state primary legal materials.

GPO Access: This free service provides access to several essential government  documents, including the Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, Congressional Record, Congressional bills, and more.

Full-text State Statutes and Legislation: One of the oldest legal information resources online, this single page provides briefly annotated links to state statutes, constitutions, administrative codes, regulations and city ordinances, where available. It is updated regularly.

Electronic Discovery Law: Lawyers at K&L Gates regularly post case summaries, and other commentary, related to electronic data discovery (EDD). It provides an RSS feed for tracking site updates as well as a database of EDD case summaries.

The Bluebook: Even if you prefer to have the little blue book in print, you'll find this site invaluable. In addition to giving you an online source for searching or accessing the Bluebook from any computer, it provides tips on citation style and rules, Bluebook updates and archived copies of older editions.

BRB Publications Inc.: At one time or another, litigators need information about companies or people. BRB Publications Inc. publishes books, databases and other materials on finding information through public records.

The Public Record Research System is a low-cost subscription database for discovering what is public record in specific jurisdictions and how to obtain it, either on-site or online. BRB's collection of free resources is extensive; it is comprised entirely of authentic sources. A blog keeps you up to date with changes in public records law, policy or procedure.

ZoomInfo: ZoomInfo is a special search engine that helps you find information about companies or people. It contains profiles built with the help of computer algorithms from sources available on the Web. Therefore, verification is important. But the site is a great source for leads, or for discovering information that searching elsewhere didn't find.

* Your mileage may vary.




5-star rating in The Best (and Worst) Legal Sites on the Web

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Created: 2 June 2008
URL: https://www.virtualchase.com/articles/sites_for_litigators.html

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