|Oregon State Bar Bulletin FEBRUARY/MARCH 2007|
By Robert J. Ambrogi
We delve into our browser’s bookmarks this month, to review recently launched websites of interest to the legal profession.
Blawg-only search tool. Several sites enable you to search the content of blogs, but they offer no way to limit your search to law-related blogs. A new tool solves this search shortfall by indexing only the content of legal blogs. Called BlawgSearch, http://blawgsearch.justia.com, it is the creation of Tim Stanley, cofounder of the original FindLaw, and his team at the website design company Justia. It launched in November with an index of some 600 blawgs and as of this writing has more than 1,000, with more being added regularly.
The site includes a directory of blawgs arranged by categories and locations, as well as a directory of other blawg directories. The site’s front page lists the most popular blawgs, highlights recent blawg posts and highlights a "featured blawger." Clouds display tags and search terms.
Supreme summary. LawMemo, www. lawmemo.com, has long been a superior site for labor and employment law resources, but now it becomes a supreme site with the addition of Supreme Court Times, www.lawmemo.com/SCT/. Covering all Supreme Court cases, this new feature compiles information and commentary into a resource that houses virtually everything you might want to know about a case.
The front page lists all cases on the court’s docket. Each case is linked to its own omnibus page. The page includes a plain-English summary of the case, the questions presented, and links to blog commentary, the lower-court opinions, the oral argument transcript, all briefs, the decision when issued, counsel for each party, and outside resources.
As if all that is enough, the site’s editor, Ross Runkel, says he will also add links to "whatever else we can think of." In short, a supreme site for the Supreme Court.
Trial by mock jury. A website offering mock juries where lawyers can test their cases made its formal launch in January. The site, TrialJuries, www.trialjuries.com, allows lawyers to submit their cases and have them "decided" by online jurors similar to those who would serve on an actual jury at trial.
To use the service, a lawyer submits a written statement of each side’s case. Alternatively, the lawyer may submit an audio or video argument. Exhibits may also be added. Then the lawyer submits up to five verdict and five feedback questions using an automated "form builder" and sends the case to the jury. Mock jurors review the submissions and answer the questions. When their review is done, the lawyer receives their verdict and can review their comments and feedback.
A demo is available at the site. The cost to submit a case is $1,500. With audio, the cost is $2,000, and with video, $2,500. The service is the creation of two lawyers, Lee Glickenhaus, a former litigator and founder of the litigation extranet company T Lex, www.tlex.com, and Jack E. (Bobby) Truitt, founder of the Louisiana defense firm The Truitt Law Firm.
Judicial profiles. What Consumer Reports does for appliances and Zagat does for restaurants, a new website aims to do for judges. Called Judicial Reports, www.judicialreports.com, the site offers in-depth profiles of New York state’s 328 Supreme Court judges. Eventually, it will add New York’s federal judges and, if there is demand, judges in other states.
Each profile draws on information available in public records together with independent research and analysis. Thus, a profile includes a judge’s biography and vital statistics, but also the judge’s reversal record, judicial conduct report and financial and campaign-finance disclosures. Included in a judge’s biographical profile are comments from lawyers who have direct experience appearing before the judge.
Access to reports requires an annual subscription. For a firm of 50 or more lawyers, $4,800 buys 12 reports plus The Blue Book of New York City Judges, a digest of the site’s research focused on trial judges in the city. For firms of 25 to 49 lawyers, the price is $3,600, and below 25 it is $3,000.
The site’s free front page features an assortment of magazine-style articles and regular columns relating to the administration of justice in New York and elsewhere. The site is operated by the Institute for Judicial Studies, a company directed by Dirk Olin, former national editor of The American Lawyer.
‘See’ demographic data. If you work at all with demographic data — or even if it simply interests you — check out Social Explorer, www.socialexplorer.com. Developed at Queens College of the City University of New York, the site’s objective is "to help visually analyze and understand the demography of the United States through the use of interactive maps and data reports."
The site features a series of interactive census maps using U.S. census data back to 1940. These maps provide visual displays of census data for the entire country or any location within it for dozens of categories and subcategories. Use it, for example, to see how racial groups are concentrated within the U.S., to compare income levels, or to find where particular industries are concentrated. You can also create slideshows showing movement of data across locations or time periods.
Special time-series maps show the changing racial compositions of New York City from 1910 to 2000 and of Los Angeles County from 1940 to 2000. Users can create custom demographic reports drawing on a range of historical and current data.
Use of the site’s basic functions is free. Libraries and educational institutions may subscribe to obtain access to a broader range of data and interactive maps.
Legal-reporting site. A program designed to prepare future journalists to cover legal affairs has launched a website and companion blog. The Carnegie Legal Reporting Program @ Newhouse, http://newhouse-web.syr.edu/legal, is a program launched this year with a grant from the Carnegie Jounalism Inititive. The program is based at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
Companion to the new website is a blog, LawBeat, http://newhouse-web.syr.edu/legal/blog.cfm, written by Mark Obbie, director of the program and former executive editor of The American Lawyer. The blog, Obbie says, "watches the journalists who watch the law. It is meant to start a conversation — here and in the classroom — about the quality of journalism focusing on the justice system, lawyers and the law."
Linking academia and blogs. The nation’s oldest law review now seeks to be its most cutting-edge with the University of Pennsylvania Law Review’s launch of a new website, PENNumbra, www.pennumbra.com. The site is intended to engage a broader audience in legal scholarship by serving as a link between legal academia and the blogosphere.
Call it "law review on steroids." The site provides the traditional, full-text articles from the print edition of the law review, then adds brief scholarly responses to the articles and online debates between legal scholars on topics of current interest. Visitors can participate by posting their own comments to the site. The UPenn Law Review was founded in 1852 as the American Law Register.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Robert Ambrogi, who practices law in Rockport, Mass., is the former editor of National Law Journal and Lawyers Weekly USA. He is internationally known for his writing about the Internet and technology.