New site simplifies searching of government Web sites

Elegus Corporation announced yesterday the launch of Elegus.com, a subscription-based tool designed to provide one-stop, simplified searching of virtually any U.S. federal or state government Web site or group of sites.

Users select searches from a list of government sites that includes nearly every domain and sub-domain within the federal system, as well as all state government, judiciary and legislature sites. Elegus also offers searching of groups of sites, so users can search across multiple sites related to the same office, department, state or subject heading (such as “All Federal Courts”) with a single search.

Elegus was built by Adam Piacente, who also created LegalTrek.com. He is a lawyer and legal-research expert who has written two books on computer-assisted legal research. In Elegus, he has built those research skills into a tool anyone can use.

The concept is simple. Based on the user’s search parameters, Elegus formulates a query and sends it to Yahoo! Search. The Yahoo! results are displayed either in a viewing frame or in a separate window.

In theory, anyone with sophisticated searching skills could achieve the same results, but you’d have to be highly proficient as a searcher and have plenty of time on your hands. As Elegus explains it:

“Until now, site specific (or vertical) searching has been a very tedious process – especially for searching government websites. Users need to know all of the thousands of sites available, as well as the specific URL domain or even sub domain address of each and every website. Then, for every search, the user has to type BY HAND both the search terms AND the address of the website they want to search (and type it all correctly, of course). …

“Searching across multiple websites is an even bigger problem, because each grouping depends on the domain and sub domain makeup of the websites themselves. There is no standard practice for grouping government websites. Some websites are sub domains that can be grouped within larger domains, while others are individual domains that need to be entered on their own.

“With Elegus, all of the legwork of finding and entering domain, sub domain, and group information is done for you. You simply enter your search terms once, and then click on any button to instantly search whichever website or group you like.”

The cost of using Elegus is $14.95 a month or $149.50 a year. A seven-day free trial is offered, as well as a free demo. I have not fully tested the site, but I can see that it would be of value to legal professionals who perform extensive research using government Web sites.