Oregon State Bar Bulletin — MAY 2011
A Round-up:
What's New in the Legal Web?
By Robert J. Ambrogi

The major commercial legal research services allow you to create alerts that notify you by email when a new case matches your search. Now, a new website offers the same sort of service, but entirely for free. It is one of several recently launched legal websites and blogs covered in this month’s column.

Court monitoring is useful for any number of reasons, from keeping on top of a particular field of law to keeping up with the latest developments in specific litigation. The new website, CourtListener, http://courtlistener.com, offers a no-cost alternative to commercial services, providing a free alert tool covering the federal circuit courts and the Supreme Court.

To create an alert, simply enter a search query. The results page lists the matching cases and includes the option, “Save this as an alert.” Give the alert a name and specify how often you wish to receive it — daily, weekly or monthly — and you are done. Once you set up an alert, you can also receive it as an RSS feed.

The search interface includes filters that allow you to narrow searches to specific courts and to search only the case name or case number. You can also use search operators to exclude words, search alternative versions of words, create wildcard searches, create proximity searches, and search phrases.

The site is the creation of Michael Lissner as part of a master’s thesis at the University of California, Berkeley School of Information. His goal was to create a free and competitive real-time alert tool for the U.S. judicial system.

At present, the site covers all precedential and nonprecedential opinions issued by the 13 federal circuit courts and the Supreme Court (except for nonprecedential opinions from the D.C. Circuit). The database is updated by 5:10 p.m. PST each day, with the alerts sent out shortly thereafter. The site plans to add other courts in the future.

Google Refines Case Search
A year ago, when Google Scholar, http://scholar.google.com, first added case law research, it was a bit “rough around the edges,” as I wrote then. Even so, I described it as “more than just a good start,” adding, “I expect there will be further refinements and enhancements to come.”

Now, one notable enhancement has arrived. Google Scholar added the ability to search court opinions and law journals by jurisdiction. Simply go to the advanced search page and, under “Collections” at the bottom of the page, pick the jurisdiction to search.

The default choices are to search all courts within a federal circuit or within a state. But click the link that says, “Select specific courts to search,” and you open a menu that lets you pick individual courts. In fact, you can even “mix and match” specific courts from across multiple jurisdictions. Thus, you could, if you wanted, conduct a single search of just the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts and the Supreme Court of Rhode Island, or any other combination.

Needless to say, this enhances the ability to use Google Scholar for more targeted research.

I should note, as a follow-up to my description of CourtListener.com, that you can also create email alerts with Google Scholar. Simply run your search and then click the button at the top of the page, “Create email alert.”

Lauding Exemplary Attorneys
The new year kicked off with the launch of a website that is devoted to shining a spotlight on “independent attorneys” who stand as examples of the best of the profession. Each month, the site, The Xemplar, www.thexemplar.com, will feature one attorney, generally from a solo or small firm, nominated and selected by a legal advisory board.

Full disclosure: I am a member of the advisory board that will select the lawyers to be profiled each month. I receive no compensation of any kind for serving on the board. I do get the satisfaction of helping to recognize attorneys who stand out, whether for their public service, their innovative use of technology or whatever other reason.

The site officially launched the first week of January, with a profile of Stephanie Kimbro, the North Carolina lawyer who developed an innovative virtual law office. The site is exclusively sponsored by the practice management division of LexisNexis but is independently operated.

Online Course in E-Discovery
Ralph Losey is considered one of the nation’s leading experts on e-discovery law. At the law firm where he is a partner, Jackson Lewis, he is the firm’s national e-discovery counsel. He is the author of four books and treatises on e-discovery law and practice and writes the blog, e-Discovery Team, http://e-discoveryteam.com.

Now Losey is spearheading a new project: e-Discovery Law Training, www.e-discoveryteamtraining.com, an intensive, online training in e-discovery law, on a par with a three-credit course in law school. The course consists of 61 classes, called modules, and covers all key topics in e-discovery law. Courses include content written by Losey and video seminars taught by him and a faculty of e-discovery professionals that includes U.S. magistrate-judges, practicing lawyers and other well known consultants and educators.

Because the program is online, you can take the classes when convenient to your schedule. And here is the most notable part: The first 15 classes are free to anyone. To sign up for the remaining 46 classes, the cost is $500. If you want to be able to communicate with instructors and receive their feedback, that requires a higher level registration of another $500. For yet another $500, registrants are eligible to be tested when they complete the program and, if they pass, to receive a certificate of completion.

New Blogs of Note
Among recently launched blogs of interest to the legal profession are these four:

From Loyola Law School in Los Angeles comes Summary Judgments, http://summaryjudgments.lls.edu, a blog that will serve as a clearinghouse for faculty commentary on a range of issues and highlight faculty scholarship. The blog kicked off the new year with “11 on ’11,” a series of posts in which professors are forecasting what lies ahead in 2011.

If you are enough of an international law geek to deal with letters rogatory, then Letters Blogatory, http://lettersblogatory.wordpress.com, is the blog for you. Its author, Ted Folkman, a lawyer at Murphy & King in Boston, says his goal is to provide a practical resource for practitioners to keep up with developments in international law.

The law firm of Crowell & Moring in Washington, D.C., launched Retail Law Observer, www.retaillawobserver.com, a blog devoted to covering legal issues and key trends facing the retail industry. Topics will include property leasing and development, labor and employment, consumer protections and bankruptcy.

The latest addition to the Law Professor Blogs Network, Legal Skills Prof Blog, http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_skills, aims to provide a forum for discussion among the law professors who teach legal skills, the practitioners who hire their students and the students themselves. The blog’s editor, James B. Levy, is associate professor at Nova Southeastern School of Law. Among the contributing editors are two well known legal technology bloggers, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.

A reminder that, if you have a website of interest to legal professionals that you think should be mentioned here, let me know about it. Drop me a note at ambrogi@gmail.com.

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. He is the author of three blogs, which can be read at www.legaline.com.

© 2011 Robert Ambrogi

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