The aging of FindLaw, part 3: Notes

In this final post of my report on the aging of FindLaw’s index, I offer some notes and comments on the links within specific practice areas.

  • Administrative Law. Of 13 links, six were bad. Of the seven remaining “good” links, one was to a site whose connection to the topic of administrative law is not apparent or explained, the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Another is to the Privacy and Information Access section of the long-defunct Internet Law Library, meaning that it is a link that appears to be both irrelevant and outdated. (Actually, the index misnames it as Privacy & Internation Access.

  • Agriculture Law. Of 12 links, four were bad. One link, Palidan Agricultural Law Resources, is now Palidan Legal Exchange and appears to have no relation to agriculture law.

  • Communications Law. Of 35 links, nine were bad. Of the good links, one, The UCLA Online Institute for Cyberspace Law and Policy, is described as containing opinions from “recent cases,” while the site itself describes itself as an archive that stopped adding new cases at the end of 2002. A link to Telecom Industry News on Yahoo! is to a page that has seen no news upadates for more than a year.
  • Environmental Law. Of 57 links, 13 were bad. Bad links consisted primarily of pages not found and expired or discontinued URLs.
  • Ethics & Professional Responsibility. Of 21 links, seven were bad. One of the bad links is to a page in a West domain: State Advertising Restriction Disclaimers. Of the 14 remaining “good” links, two were for the same page of the same site and six were for different sub-pages of two sites, leaving only 10 links to distinct sites.
  • Health Law. Of 107 links, 34 were bad. This section of the index contained one link that now leads to a porn site. Undoubtedly, this is inadvertent, but it points to the importance of keeping links up to date. Most of the bad links in this section resulted from discontinued Web sites and pages not found.

In discussing the aging of FindLaw’s index, I have focused on the bad links that need to be weeded out. But the point should not be lost that FindLaw’s index has failed to keep up with new sites of interest to legal professionals. The omission of virtually all blogs is a glaring example, but the index omits many other Web sites that it should include.

Having gone through the process last year of updating my own book on legal Web sites for its second edition, I appreciate how much work is involved in keeping an index such as FindLaw’s fresh. To make it even more difficult, the Web is ever changing. But lawyers turn to an index such as FindLaw’s in search of a shortcut to the best Web sites. Given FindLaw’s pedigree, lawyers who turn to it have every right to expect it to be timely and accurate. Unfortunately, it is not.

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  • Anonymous

    Did you actually go check every link to see if it was live?