you need a no-cost place to call home while surfing the Web, look at
FindLaw (www.findlaw.com). For
more than five years, FindLaw has helped lawyers and support personnel
conduct research, communicate and practice law. (It also offers legal
information for business people and consumers.)
Here are some of FindLaw's most useful features
for legal professionals.
FindLaw's core is a Yahoo!-like guide to legal
information. Human-edited site listings cover more than 30 areas of
legal practice and law office administration.
For example, under Intellectual Property Law,
FindLaw has gathered resources, categorized links to IP sites on the
web, and cross-referenced related portions of the FindLaw Guide, such
as Copyright and Cyberspace Law.
FindLaw-gathered IP resources include an IP
lawyer directory; summaries of IP law; links to online documents,
briefs, articles and books; a huge cache of sample IP contracts
(mostly taken, it appears, from SEC filings); and a message board.
The Legal Tech Center (tech.lp.findlaw.com)
points to the websites of hundreds of hardware and software vendors,
consultants and experts. In addition, FindLaw has links to mailing
lists and other law office technology sites.
The message board may be the weakest aspect of
the Legal Tech Center. When I last looked at it, the message board had
only five discussion categories, and the quality of information posted
FindLaw Cases and Codes (findlaw.com/casecode)
is a collection of federal and state research materials. Some are at
the FindLaw site itself; others are available via links to other sites
on the web.
FindLaw also provides an extensive collection of
federal and state court forms (forms.findlaw.com)
plus e-mail delivery of legal news and daily or weekly opinion
In the spirit of fair play and providing complete
information to users, FindLaw lists fee-based competitors to some of
FindLaw's free services. For example, regarding California cases and
codes, there are descriptions of and links to AccessLaw, American
LegalNet, Law.com, Lexis.com, LOIS Law, Netlaw Libraries, VersusLaw
Office Services (office.findlaw.com)
is a suite of web-based practice applications, including website
hosting, document management, e-mail, fax and voice mail.
The Employment Center (jobs.findlaw.com)
offers job placement services and a career center.
Of course, no service is perfect. FindLaw's
rectilinear layout, limited font selection and dull colors cry out for
a graphic design makeover.
(Perhaps FindLaw purposely subdues the content to
attract users to ads that line the top and right side of every
Furthermore, when it comes to searching case law,
fee-based sites require fewer steps and display text that is easier to
browse. Nevertheless, FindLaw is a great place to begin looking for
legal resources, and the price is right.
Shultz is vice president and legal counsel for an international
financial services organization, where he specializes in technology
licensing and related transactions.
His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.