[The following column originally appeared in print in October 2006. I am republishing it as part of my continuing effort to maintain an archive of my published columns. Important note: I have not updated this since its original publication. While most of the sites remain as described, some may have changed. All information was current [...]
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[The following column originally appeared in print in May 2006. I am republishing it as part of my continuing effort to maintain an archive of my published columns. Important note: I have not updated this since its original publication. While most of the sites remain as described, some may have changed. All information was current as of the date of original publication.]
It may seem that every new legal Web site these days is a blog. But here are several recently launched sites that remind us that blogs are not the only good ideas on the Web.
• The ‘Wikipedia’ of law. I’ve become a big fan and regular user of Wikipedia, the free, user-edited encyclopedia. Last fall, Cornell’s Legal Information Institute launched the legal dictionary and encyclopedia Wex, which, like Wikipedia, is collaboratively written and edited by users. Now, another legal wiki has launched, Wiki-Law, and its co-founder says its mission “is to become the Wikipedia of the legal world.”
A wiki, according to Wikipedia’s definition, is a type of Web site “that allows users to easily add, remove, or otherwise edit all content, very quickly and easily, sometimes without the need for registration.” The new WikiLaw intends to use such user-contributed content “to create a free, complete, up-to-date and reliable world-wide legal guide and resource.”
Users can contribute content in any of seven categories: Dictionary, Forms, Statutes, Case Briefs, Law Firm Profiles, Law School Profiles and Law Journal Profiles, or they can write their own blog or submit an interesting law related link. As of this writing, contributions were light, but I hope the idea takes off.
• Encyclopedia of Congress. Another new Web resource is modeling itself on Wikipedia, this time to create a tool for citizens to research and share information about members of Congress. Like Wikipedia, Congresspedia is a collaboratively written encyclopedia. But unlike Wikipedia, its focus is exclusively on Congress. It launched in April with 539 articles, one for every current member of Congress, the non-voting delegates, and one former representative. It expects users to build from there by adding new articles on any subjects related to Congress. The site is a collaboration between the Center for Media and Democracy and the Sunlight Foundation.
• ‘MySpace’ for lawyers. If Wiki-Law aims to be the Wikipedia of the legal world, then Lawbby aspires to become the MySpace of the legal world. While MySpace is where teens and college students meet and mingle, Lawbby says it is “where lawyers mingle,” whether for business or pleasure.
Like MySpace, users can create their own profiles and groups, post photos and create blogs. And in a feature more akin to Craigslist than MySpace, users can post classified ads in categories such as jobs, expert services and lawyer referrals. The site was just launched last month and has attracted only a smattering of activity so far. But for all those legal lonely-hearts out there, now you have a home.
• Supreme Court zeitgeist. What is the collective voice of the Web saying about the Supreme Court? Find out at The Supreme Court Zeitgeist, a site that tracks news stories, blog entries, Web links and books and magazines related to the Supreme Court. It achieves this tracking by aggregating the results of searches through tools including Google News, Technorati blog search and del.icio.us link aggregator.
• Real-estate research. Any lawyer who practices real estate law will want to check out Zillow.com, a real estate site launched in February that provides free valuations and other information on more than 40 million homes in the United States. It includes most U.S. homes, not just those for sale. These valuations – which the site calls “Zestimates” – are estimated market values computed using comparable sales and other data.
In addition to valuations, the site offers a variety of useful information, including historical value changes charted over the past year, five years or 10 years; historical value changes as compared to surrounding zip code, city, state or the entire U.S.; all comparable home sales in an area; and individual home data, such as number of bedrooms/bathrooms, square footage, lot size, stories and year built. The site’s My Zestimator tool allows users to refine the listed value of a home, based on changes or additions to the home.
Zillow provides satellite, aerial and parcel views of many homes. In addition to standard satellite images, Zillow uses the Bird’s Eye View images of Microsoft Virtual Earth, providing multiple perspectives and amazing detail.
• Help finding public records. A new Web site, DetectiveForums.com, provides links to public records resources on the Web alongside free bulletin boards where users can share resources and post questions on public records. The site as of press time has links in only eight categories, but says it will soon have more than 75 categories. In numbers of links, it is no comparison to the public-records sites SearchSystems.net or Pretrieve.com. But the site’s bulletin boards could prove useful in helping researchers locate hard-to-find records. That, of course, will depend on how many users the site gets and how much information they have to share. But if you regularly search for public records online, this site is worth watching.
[The following column originally appeared in print in January 2007. I am republishing it as part of my continuing effort to maintain an archive of my published columns. Important note: I have not updated this since its original publication. While most of the sites remain as described, some may have changed. All information was current as of the date of original publication.]
We delve into our browser’s bookmarks this month, to review recently launched Web sites of interest to the legal profession.
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.
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.
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, and Jack E. (Bobby) Truitt, founder of the Louisiana defense firm The Truitt Law Firm.
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.
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.
Companion to the new Web site is a blog, LawBeat, 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.”
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. Visi
tors can participate by posting their own comments to the site. The UPenn Law Review was founded in 1852 as the American Law Register.
[The following column originally appeared in print in May 2007. I am republishing it as part of my continuing effort to maintain an archive of my published columns. Important note: I have not updated this since its original publication. While most of the sites remain as described, some may have changed. All information was current as of the date of original publication.]
As we do here every so often, this month we round up a selection of some of what’s new among law-related Web sites.
- Legal vertical search. A new search tool allows more focused searching of the legal Web than would a general search site, with the goal of delivering more relevant results. Launched by Law.com, the tool is called Law.com Quest. It provides the option of searching only the Law.com network of sites, which includes all ALM publications, or a broader, hand-picked selection of legal Web sites and legal blogs.
- A useful feature is Quest’s ability to filter search results by date ranges or by content source or type. For example, if you search within the Law.com network, you can filter results to show only those from the National Law Journal or The American Lawyer, or you can choose to see only results that come from court decisions or blogs. If you use the broader “legal Web” search, you can filter results by selected courts and regions.
Quest is a significant improvement over previous options for searching the Law.com network of sites. Even better, it adds a broader search of select legal Web sites and blogs. Beyond its scope, its most striking feature is its ease of use, facilitated by its ability to filter search results by date ranges and by content source or type. Its broad vertical search, combined with its search of ALM articles, court decisions and features, should make it a key search tool for legal professionals.
- Opening Congress. A new Web site, OpenCongress, draws on a variety of sources – from official government sites to blogs – to provide an in-depth view of “the real story behind what’s happening in Congress.” A joint project of the Sunlight Foundation and the Participatory Politics Foundation, the site allows you to track official legislative information as well as news reports, blog posts, campaign contribution information and other sources. Use it to track a bill, a member of Congress, a specific issue or just to follow the latest developments on Capitol Hill.
- OpenCongress works by tracking a variety of sources. They include official legislative information from Thomas made available by way of GovTrack.us, including all bills, members of Congress, votes, committee reports, issue areas and more; news articles about Congress from Google News; blog posts about Congress drawn from Technorati and Google Blog Search; and campaign contribution information from OpenSecrets.org.
The site allows you to set up RSS feeds for virtually anything you want to track – a single bill, a member of Congress or blog posts about a bill. You can also track what is hot in Congress by subscribing to feeds for most-viewed items. A separate issues page lets you monitor Congressional activity by topics.
- Tracking wrongful convictions. The Tarlton Law Library at the University of Texas School of law has created the Actual Innocence Awareness Database to track developments related to wrongful convictions. The database contains citations (and links, when the materials are online) to popular media, journal articles, books, reports, legislation and Web sites. Materials are classified by the primary causes of wrongful conviction: forensics/DNA, eyewitness identification, false confessions, jailhouse informants, police or prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective representation. There is also a general category and the entire database can be searched.
- Legal articles library. A new free resource for lawyers provides access to hundreds of articles written by lawyers for CLE programs or for publication in legal periodicals. Called Litilaw, it claims to be the largest free collection of advanced legal articles available on the Internet. The site focuses on collecting articles of interest to litigators and organizes them under more than 30 substantive and procedural categories. Search the full text of articles or browse them by categories or latest additions. Full articles are available only in PDF format.
- Litilaw provides a synopsis of each article, but the full text resides offsite at the article’s original location – usually a CLE provider or law firm. In fact, the site invites attorneys to add links to their own articles. The site is operated by Lexbe.com, www.lexbe.com, a company that markets a Web-based case analysis and document-management system.
- Patents marketplace. A new Web site, LegalForce, offers an online “marketplace” for buying, selling and licensing patents. Through July, listing patents for sale costs nothing. Interested buyers can view listings and post bids, which are non-binding as serve as invitations to negotiate. The site also provides a networking forum for inventors, attorneys and IP professionals, where they can participate in topical forums, post videos (illustrating their inventions, for example), post classified ads and list events.
- According to the Web site, LegalForce also offers IP legal services, including patent preparation and prosecution, “through a network of U.S. patent attorneys using LegalForce intellectual property support services in India.” According to a white paper, this means that much of the patent work is outsourced through U.S. patent attorneys to patent engineers in India.
- Anglo-American legal tradition. The O’Quinn Law Library at the University of Houston Law Center has launched a Web site, Anglo-American Legal Tradition, that provides access to nearly half a million images of U.K. court documents covering roughly four centuries from 1272 to 1650.
- The images are of documents on file with the National Archives of the United Kingdom. Previously, access to these documents was possible only by visiting the National Archives and viewing them first-hand. The O’Quinn Library acquired them through the 15-year effort of Houston law professor Robert C. Palmer to negotiate the license, which allows the free, non-commercial, public display and use of the images.
In addition to the document images, the site includes Palmer’s overviews of English legal history. Eventually, it will include additional teaching materials and finding aids to enhance the site’s functionality.
- Constitution finder. From the University of Richmond School of Law comes Constitution Finder, a database of worldwide constitutions, charters, amendments and related documents. The site lists documents by nation and links to the Web locations of the source documents. The site neither houses nor translates documents, so not all source documents are available in English.
[The following column originally appeared in print in March 2007. I am republishing it as part of my continuing effort to maintain an archive of my published columns. Important note: I have not updated this since its original publication. While most of the sites remain as described, some may have changed. All information was current as of the date of original publication.]
Is your firm in the market for a technology upgrade but uncertain what to buy? For consumer-technology products, a shopper can find any number of buying guides. But what about legal-technology shoppers?
As it turns out, guidance is available, provided you know where to look. Here is a quick tour of sites to check if you are in the market for legal technology.
- ABA Law Practice Management Section. This ABA section devotes portions of its Web site to each of what it calls “the four core areas of law practice.” Yes, technology is one of them. Because this site serves as home to Law Practice magazine and the Law Practice Today e-zine and offers various CLE and audio programs, the shopping lawyer can find both reviews of specific products and broader guides to law office technology.
- ABA Legal Technology Resource Center. LTRC describes itself as “where legal professionals turn for technology information.” The site’s Info Centers zero in on technology in the law office, the courtroom, online and on the road. Among the resources you can find here are product comparison charts, product descriptions and how-to guides.
- Association of Legal Administrators. From the navigation pane on the left of the ALA home page, click on “Legal Vendors” to search for products by keyword, company name or category.
- Dennis Kennedy’s Legal Technology Central. From the home page of lawyer and legal-technology consultant Dennis Kennedy’s Web site, click on Resources/Legal Technology for a comprehensive collection of links to legal technology resources and vendors.
- FindLaw Legal Technology Center. Articles here discuss uses of technology in the law office and the courtroom. For the shopper, the site offers both product reviews and product announcements covering software, hardware, communications, e-discovery and networking.
- International Legal Technology Association. The focus here tends to be more macro than micro, with resources that tackle broad legal technology issues more than specific product advice. Depending on shopping list, however, you may find articles of interest. Good place to start: ILTA’s library of white papers and surveys.
- Law.com Legal Technology. In case you have not visited Law.com’s legal technology pages recently, you should. The editors here have been busy adding reams of content. The section combines articles original to Law.com with others drawn from ALM newspapers and magazines and other sources. The result is a diverse library of articles on software, hardware, security, networking, e-discovery and IT management. Disclaimer: I am a member of Law.com’s Legal Technology Advisory Board.
- Law Office Technology Review. Barry D. Bayer has been writing reviews of legal technology products for two decades. He puts only summaries of his reviews on his Web site but request one by e-mail and he will reply with the full review.
- Law Technology News. This is the Web site of the magazine Law Technology News. All LTN issues back to February 2003 can be found here, once you have completed the site’s free registration. More to the point of this column, this site is home to the LTN Resource Guide, an index of companies that produce legal technology products, organized by type of product. LTN’s site also provides announcements of new technology products, with links to the vendors’ Web sites.
- LLRX.com. This longstanding staple of legal technology and legal research professionals provides a monthly e-zine together with “resource centers” devoted to various topics. Articles cover a spectrum of subjects and free archives of previously published articles date back to 1996.
- MicroLaw.com. If you have ever attended a legal technology conference anywhere in the United States, chances are strong that you have heard a presentation from Ross L. Kodner, MicroLaw’s president. Jump to the Legal Tech CLE section of his Web site, and you will find the materials from many of those same presentations. Whether you are looking for the latest gadget or software for practice management, Kodner may cover it here.
- TechnoLawyer. Since 1997, TechnoLawyer’s electronic newsletters have provided product reviews, technology tips and articles on a range of legal technology topics. The company collects all those articles in an archive it calls “the most extensive legal technology and practice management resource in the world.” Search the archive free, but reading the full articles requires a subscription which ranges in price from $9 for 24 hours up to $65 for a year.
Various law-related blogs report on new software and hardware products for lawyers. Check their current postings and their archives for products that interest you. Among the technology blogs worth checking:
- ABA TechShow.
- The Common Scold (from LTN editor Monica Bay).
- I Heart Tech.
- Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips Blog.
- LawTech Guru.
- Strategic Legal Technology.
With this list of sites and some virtual shoe leather, you should be able to find guidance on just about any legal technology product.
[The following column originally appeared in print in February 2007. I am republishing it as part of my continuing effort to maintain an archive of my published columns. Important note: I have not updated this since its original publication. While most of the sites remain as described, some may have changed. All information was current as of the date of original publication.]
One recent day, an unlabeled peanut-butter cookie nearly killed my teenaged son. We’ve known of his peanut allergy since he was an infant and thought we had it pretty well in hand. But one taste of an unmarked treat from his school cafeteria sent him into critical anaphylactic shock and required him to be taken by helicopter to a critical care unit in Boston.
Thankfully he survived. But I can’t help but worry about the risk both my sons face for the rest of their lives. Nor can I help but think of the children – and the parents of the children – who may not be so lucky.
As someone whose children have been allergic to nuts their entire lives, I should be better informed about this than I am. And as a lawyer, I should better understand legal and legislative efforts to protect those with peanut and other food allergies. Scariest about peanuts is how invisibly pervasive they are, used as additives and thickening agents in a host of unlikely foods, from pasta sauce to egg rolls.
As a lawyer, this crisis got me to thinking: What can lawyers and policy makers do to help protect others from what happened to my son? Towards finding that answer, I devote this column to exploring online resources relating to peanut allergies and the law.
Given the ubiquity of the peanutbutter-and-jelly sandwich among children, a logical place to start in safeguarding those with peanut allergies is our grade schools. Policymakers in a handful of states have set guidelines – voluntary for the most part – on how schools should deal with life-threatening food allergies, but they’ve fallen short of regulating this in any meaningful way.
On a public-policy level, the questions are more complex than simply whether to make schools peanut free. That question, alone, is controversial, but there are others that are equally debatable. Should we require schools to label foods in their cafeterias? To provide peanut-free tables or areas? To allow students to carry and self-administer epinephrine pens?
The importance of this as a legal and public-policy issue will continue to grow. A 2003 report from The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network found that the number of children with peanut allergies had doubled over the preceding five years and that 79 percent of children with the allergy had experienced severe reactions.
FAAN’s Web site is an excellent resource for general information on food allergies. A section of the site is devoted to legal advocacy. It contains information on federal and state legislative and regulatory initiatives related to food allergies. Specific topics include food labeling, schools and camps, emergency medical services, restaurants and airlines.
A good resource for information on federal laws and policies relating to food allergies is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition. The site has extensive information about the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004, which the FDA oversees. It includes the full text of the act as well as numerous documents related to compliance and exemptions. It also has a collection of links to food allergy resources elsewhere in the federal government, primarily relating to health and nutritional issues.
Other sites with information on law and policy related to food allergies include:
- AllergicChild.com. A support group for parents, teachers and others who deal with allergic children, its site includes a page devoted to food allergy legislations. The information is fairly minimal and it appears that there have been no updates since 2005.
- Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. The AAFA is an asthma and allergy patient advocacy group whose mission is to help improve the lives of people with asthma and allergies through education, advocacy and research. Its Web site includes sections on various food allergies as well as sections on legal protections for allergy sufferers under the Americans with Disabilities Act and food labeling laws.
- Food Allergy Initiative. A public policy section has information on federal labeling laws, current legislation, and 504 plans for schools to accommodate students with food allergies.
- The Food Allergy Project. This is a coalition of parents, researchers, educators and others aimed at increasing federal and private funding for food allergy research. In its news section, the site has some information on legislative initiatives related to its work.
- Kids with Food Allergies.com. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to improving the lives of children with food allergies by sharing resources and tips. Access to most of the site’s resources requires payment of an annual $25 membership fee. These resources deal mostly with non-legal issues, but also include information on the federal food labeling laws.
- PeanutAllergy.com. Although this site has pages for “issues of concern” such as food labeling and schools, they are virtually empty. However, the site has a number of active discussion boards. Of interest to legal professionals, these boards contain numerous stories of legal challenges faced by those with peanut allergies in seeking accommodations in their schools and elsewhere. A number of postings relate directly to negotiating and drafting 504 agreements with schools.
- Peanut Aware. The site is intended to serve as a resource for information on allergy books, allergy-safe foods and restaurants, and more. It has no direct information on legal or public-policy matters, although its discussion forum has a section with some postings on 504 plans and other school issues.
Lawyers have a critical role to play here. We can help bring about laws, regulations and policies to protect the lives of children with food allergies. We can lobby for clearer labeling. We can support – rather than block – scientific research. We can push for accountability and education.
We can’t cure these allergies, but we can help prevent needless, life-threatening situations such as the one that almost killed my son.
[The following column originally appeared in print in October 2007. I am republishing it as part of my continuing effort to maintain an archive of my published columns. Important note: I have not updated this since its original publication. While most of the sites remain as described, some may have changed. All information was current as of the date of original publication.]
Second of two parts. (Part one.)
As I wrote last month in the first half of this two-part column, no lawyer today can afford to ignore e-discovery. No matter the case, digital data is likely to be implicated. That means lawyers urgently need to understand e-discovery and keep abreast of developments in the field.
In last month’s column, I looked at some of the more useful Web sites for learning about and keeping current with this essential area of practice. This month, I survey blogs about e-discovery and look at some vendors’ sites that include useful resources.
As I write this column, at least two e-discovery blogs have launched within the last two weeks, attesting to the significance of this field. Of the 19 blogs surveyed here, some focus on e-discovery law and practice and others on the e-discovery industry, but all are potentially useful for keeping current with the field.
- Alextronic Discovery. Alexander H. Lubarsky, the California litigator who writes this blog, admits to a bit of writer’s block lately, but vows to pick up the pace of his postings. If he does, his blog is worth following.
- Dennis Kennedy. Lawyer and consultant Kennedy writes about a range of legal-technology topics and frequently covers e-discovery.
- EDD Blog Online. Written by Jeff Fehrman, president of Electronic Evidence Labs, a division of e-discovery vendor ONSITE3, and consultant Bob Krantz, this blog promises an “insider’s look” at e-discovery. Many of the posts are excerpts of articles from other sources.
- EDD Update. Unveiled in September as a joint project of Law Technology News and Law.com Legal Technology, this blog is a venue for posting breaking news, key verdicts and judicial rulings, articles, press releases and more. It features a board of contributors that includes leading lawyers and consultants in the field – and also me.
- E-Discovery and Computer Forensic Blog. The blog of a Los Angeles e-discovery company, many posts are full-text articles from other sources.
- E-Discovery in the Trenches. When he launched this blog in April 2007, Jerry Bui, an e-discovery manager with KPMG, dedicated it to those who work “directly in the trenches on EDD projects.” Since May, he has posted nothing new.
- E-Discovery Team. Ralph C. Losey, co-chair of the e-discovery team at the law firm Akerman Senterfitt in Orlando, writes this top-notch blog. His posts are frequent and substantive, covering both e-discovery law and practice.
- E-discovery 2.0. Subtitled, “Thoughts about the evolution of e-discovery,” this blog is written by Aaref Hilaly, CEO of e-discovery company Clearwell Systems.
- Electronic Discovery and Evidence. Michael Arkfeld, author of the treatise, Electronic Discovery and Evidence, uses this blog to report updates in the law of e-discovery, although his postings are infrequent.
- Electronic Discovery Blog. Before he became an attorney, the author of this blog, W. Lawrence Wescott II, was an IT manager, a background that enables him to writes knowledgeably about both law and technology.
- Electronic Discovery Law. Technology lawyers at the firm K & L Gates write this blog that includes summaries of court decisions and updates on related legal issues.
- Information Governance Engagement Area. Rob Robinson, a marketing veteran who has worked with several e-discovery companies, maintains this blog as somewhat of a clipping tool for aggregating e-discovery news.
- In re Discovery. The blog of Socha Consulting, the firm discussed in part one of this column that publishes the annual Socha-Gelbmann Electronic Discovery Survey.
- LawTech Guru Blog. A well-known writer on a range of legal technology issues, Jeff Beard frequently blogs about new developments in e-discovery.
- Litigation Support Industry News. This blog tracks news about the companies that provide litigation support and e-discovery services. It is written by Brad Jenkins, president and CEO of Trial Solutions of Texas.
- On the Mark. Launched in October 2007, this is the blog of Mark V. Reichenbach, a vice president at MetaLINCS and two-decade veteran of e-discovery and litigation support for companies and law firms. In his blog, he comments “on the issues and happenings of our industry.”
- Ride the Lightning. The author of this blog, lawyer Sharon D. Nelson, is president of computer forensics company Sensei Enterprises and a widely known speaker and writer on legal technology. She introduced her blog in July 2007 with the goal of helping readers better understand electronic evidence.
- Sound Evidence. One of the best known e-discovery blogs, it is written by Mary Mack, technology counsel to e-discovery company Fios and co-author of the book, A Process of Illumination: The Practical Guide to Electronic Discovery.
- Strategic Legal Technology. Lawyer and legal technology consultant Ron Friedmann writes about e-discovery, litigation support, KM and other technology topics.
A number of companies that market e-discovery services also provide useful resources on their Web sites. In part one of this article, I described DiscoveryResources.org, an e-discovery portal sponsored by the company Fios. The company’s main site at www.fiosinc.com provides an array of resources in its own right, some that overlap with its other site and some that do not.
Other companies whose sites include useful resources for lawyers include:
- Applied Discovery. This LexisNexis division offers the Applied Discovery Law Library, a surprisingly diverse selection of case summaries, model forms, articles and white papers. Worth noting is the library’s collection of court rules, covering state as well as federal rules and including links to related ethics rulings.
- Attenex. Among the various resources available here, two offerings stand out as particularly useful. First is the collection of “on-demand webcasts” – previously recorded Web seminars on topics such as best practices, controlling costs and native file review. Also worthwhile is the li
brary of white papers on a range of practical e-discovery topics, many written by practitioners.
- Catalyst. CEO John Tredennick is nationally known both as an accomplished trial lawyer with Holland & Hart and as a writer and speaker on legal technology. Find your way to the site’s news page, then click the “articles” tab, for articles written by him and others on e-discovery and document management.
- CT Summation. A small collection of white papers focuses on topics relating to e-discovery and use of electronic evidence.
- Merrill Corporation. Within the Legal Solutions section of Merrill’s site is a Knowledge Center with a selection of articles to download. Topics include choosing an e-discovery vendor and managing electronic evidence.
- Ontrack Data Recovery. Discovery of electronic data sometimes requires recovery of lost electronic data, thanks to hard-drive damage or system failure. Ontrack’s site offers more than three-dozen substantive articles and white papers on data recovery. The easiest way to find them is via the site map.
- Sensei Enterprises. If you’ve ever been to a legal technology seminar or read a legal technology magazine, odds are you have encountered either Sharon D. Nelson or John W. Simek, Sensei’s principals. Both are popular speakers and authors. Fortunately for those who have not, they provide a library on their Web site of their broad-ranging articles dating back to 2002.
- Stratify. Skip the “eDiscovery Resources” section of this site, where the focus is on pitching Stratify’s products, and go instead to its selections of white papers and published articles. The latter, in particular, has several good pieces on e-discovery practice and technology.
An update: After the first part of this column went to press, a new e-discovery organization came into being and, with it, a new Web site worth checking out. Women in eDiscovery focuses on women in law and business with an interest in legal technology.
[The following column originally appeared in print in September 2007. I am republishing it as part of my continuing effort to maintain an archive of my published columns. Important note: I have not updated this since its original publication. While most of the sites remain as described, some may have changed. All information was current as of the date of original publication.]
(First of Two Parts. Part Two.)
Last December’s revisions to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, addressing discovery of electronically stored information, underscored the fact that no lawyer today can afford to ignore e-discovery. No matter the case, no matter the court, digital data is likely to be implicated.
That means lawyers urgently need to understand e-discovery and keep abreast of developments in the field. In this month’s column, the first of two parts on e-discovery, we look at some of the more useful Web sites for learning about and keeping current with this essential area of practice. Next month in part two, we will survey blogs about e-discovery and look at some vendors’ sites that include useful resources.
For all it offers, DiscoveryResources.org, may be the leading e-discovery portal. Even though the site is sponsored by e-discovery company Fios, it foregoes commerce in deference to its mission, which is to provide news, information and resources about e-discovery. Through both original content and outside links, the site provides timely news stories, substantive articles, tutorials, seminars, podcasts, legal forms and other tools.
Another useful entry point to resources on e-discovery is the American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center. The site devotes a section to courtroom technology and, within that, a guide to e-discovery resources. While not extensive, the guide is a good starting point.
If you want to know what federal judges know about e-discovery, you will find no better source than KenWithers.com. In his former role as education attorney for the Federal Judicial Center, Withers taught judges about EDD and technology. Now director of judicial education for The Sedona Conference, Withers’ personal site archives his many articles and presentations, discusses e-discovery rulemaking, and provides links to e-discovery resources elsewhere on the Web.
California lawyer Richard E. Best started posting his civil discovery outlines on the Web in 1999 and has continued to update them ever since at California Civil Discovery Law. From his home page, follow the “electronic data” link for his extensive collection of resources covering state and federal e-discovery, as well as related issues such as e-discovery ethics.
The Electronic Evidence Information Center, is a fairly modest collection of links to resources and conferences relating to e-discovery and computer forensics. Worth noting is the site’s page collecting links to mobile phone forensics tools.
Research and Practices
The rapid growth of e-discovery in recent years has left the horse often trailing the cart. A number of organizations are now working to develop standards and practices with the goal of harmonizing e-discovery across courts and industries.
A leader in this research is The Sedona Conference, a non-profit organization devoted to innovation in antitrust law, complex litigation and intellectual property law. It has devoted substantial work to the establishment of best practices in e-discovery. In June 2007, it released the second edition of The Sedona Principles on e-discovery. This document any many others are available through the Sedona site.
Given its goal of enhancing the administration of justice, the National Center for State Courts, is immersed in issues surrounding e-discovery in state courts. In August 2006, it published an extensive set of e-discovery guidelines for state trial courts, which is available as a download from this site. Elsewhere, the site compiles research and resources on e-discovery and houses a variety of articles on the topic.
Directed by legal technology consultant, writer and speaker Tom O’Connor, the Legal Electronic Document Institute, is a non-profit organization devoted to the development of education and standards related to legal electronic documents. Its areas of focus include practice management, electronic trial practice and litigation support, e-filing, e-signatures and e-discovery.
Similarly, the Electronic Discovery Institute describes itself as a public-interest organization conducting research into the efficacy of various methods of e-discovery. According to the site, the institute’s inaugural study is underway, testing the reliability of search and retrieval technology. Once completed, the study will be published here.
While the foregoing entities focus on e-discovery practices, Socha Consulting takes a different tack with its annual Socha-Gelbmann Electronic Discovery Survey. Think of it as the Consumer Reports of e-discovery vendors. The survey ranks the top e-discovery companies and provides information on many others. The full survey is pricey – $5,000 for 2007 – but a free summary was published in the August Law Technology News. Socha’s site includes various free resources as well.
From the publishers of the Socha-Gelbmann survey comes this related site, The Electronic Discovery Reference Model. The site originally was devoted to development of a model set of standards and guidelines governing e-discovery. With the model now in place and in the public domain, the site focuses on its deployment.
EDDix is a company devoted to research, analysis and reporting on e-discovery. The “ix” in its name stands for “information exchange.” Through this site, it sells various publications containing its research and also provides links to news and resources relating to e-discovery.
Reading Up on E-Discovery
A number of sites house original news stories, practice pieces, white papers, seminar presentations and other materials devoted to e-discovery.
Law.com’s Legal Technology Center, for example, maintains a useful section devoted to Electronic Data Discovery. It features news articles and expert commentary written for the site and drawn from legal newspapers and magazines. An “E-Discovery Roadmap” lets you navigate your way through steps in the e-discovery process and learn about their requirements and best practices.
Craig Ball is a board-certified trial lawyer and a certified forensic examiner, a combination that uniquely qualifies him as an e-discovery consultant and prolific writer on e-discovery and computer forensics. His Web site collects his regular column together with a variety of his articles and presentations.
LLRX.com has lon
g been a superior site for articles and resources on law technology and practice. From its main page, click on “E-Discovery” in the right-hand navigation column or use the site’s search feature to find a library of articles and updates covering e-discovery.
A collection of e-discovery materials from the Federal Judicial Center can be found by following the “materials on electronic discovery” link from its front page. The collection focuses on civil litigation and includes FJC workshop and seminar materials, research and publications, along with links to selected external materials. A link points to a separate page of materials focused on search and seizure of electronic data in criminal cases.
FindLaw’s Electronic Discovery Center provides substantive articles and white papers on e-discovery along with vendor press releases. An “E-Discovery Wizard” provides checklists and links to articles regarding specific provisions of the federal rules.
Law Journal Newsletters, a division of ALM, publishes the newsletter E-Discovery Law & Strategy, which can be reached through this site. Subscribers can view the full text of articles as well as download the entire newsletter in PDF. Non-subscribers can view article summaries and purchase individual articles.
Michael Arkfeld’s book, Electronic Discovery and Evidence, is a leading treatise on e-discovery. The book is available for purchase through Law Partner Publishing. Purchasers get password access to Web-only resources available here, including updates, forms and checklists.
A unique e-discovery resource is the Litigation Support Vendors Association. This site is home to multiple, free discussion forums covering such topics as e-discovery, computer forensics and best practices. All are moderated by industry experts and representatives of legal-technology companies. Also posted here are jobs within the litigation support industry.
[In Part Two: Our review of e-discovery sites continues with a survey of blogs on the topic and a look at the sites of some e-discovery vendors.]
[The following column originally appeared in print in April 2007. I am republishing it as part of my continuing effort to maintain an archive of my published columns. Important note: I have not updated this since its original publication. While most of the sites remain as described, some may have changed. All information was current as of the date of original publication.]
When published in 1999, Stanford Law School professor Lawrence Lessig’s book, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, earned praise from one reviewer as “paradigm-shifting.” Later, when Lessig set out to update the book, he shifted the paradigm once again.
Lessig posted the entire manuscript to a Web site where anyone could contribute edits of their own. Eventually, he took that publicly edited text, added his own edits, and, in December 2006, published the resulting work as Code v2. Soon, he will post the finished book online for readers to continue to revise. U.K. solicitor Justin Patten is taking the same approach to a book he is writing about blogging and social media, http://humanlaw.pbwiki.com.
The key word in these experiments is collaboration and the engine driving them is a type of Web site known as a wiki, a name taken from the Hawaiian word for fast. A wiki allows any Web page visitor to easily add, remove or edit content. Editing can be done quickly from within a browser and without any special knowledge of authoring formats. A wiki’s simplicity and ease of use make it an ideal tool for group projects.
The first wiki software, WikiWikiWeb, was written in 1994. But it was not until more recently that wikis saw broader use. No doubt, a driving force in their greater popularity has been the best-known wiki – the collaboratively written encyclopedia Wikipedia.
Neither are wikis new to the legal profession. Denver, Colo., lawyer John DeBruyn, for one, has been experimenting with wikis as a tool for lawyer-to-lawyer collaboration since at least 1997. But in the legal world, as elsewhere, wikis have become more widely used in the last year or two.
This month, we look at some of the innovative and intriguing ways legal professionals are using wikis.
- Civil Law Dictionary. Vicenç Feliú, law librarian at Louisiana State University, created this wiki to serve as a source of civil law terminology, particularly for common law lawyers who may not be familiar with civil law terms.
- Congresspedia. This wiki is intended to serve as a tool to research and share information about members of Congress. It launched in April 2006 with 539 articles – one for every member of Congress, the non-voting delegates, and one former representative – and invited users to build from there by adding new articles on any subjects related to Congress.
- CopyrightExperiences. Consider this wiki an attempt to strike back at unreasonable copyright restrictions imposed by law reviews and other legal publishers. The purpose is for legal academics and others to share their experiences regarding copyright requirements and model copyright agreements, all with the goal of ensuring the widest possible distribution of published works.
- Creative Commons Wiki. Home to various wiki projects related to the work of the Creative Commons organization, which provides an alternative to traditional copyright. Among the projects here is the Podcasting Legal Guide.
- Death Penalty Wiki. Started by California lawyer Mike Cernovich, co-author of the blog Crime & Federalism, this is an attempt to maintain a collaboratively edited log of death-penalty cases.
- Internet Law Treatise. Sponsored by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this is a project to maintain an open licensed, collaborative treatise summarizing the law related to the Internet. It is based on the Electronic Media and Privacy Law Handbook, which was published by the law firm Perkins Coie in December 2003.
- IPdailyupdate. This wiki features daily news stories related to intellectual property law.
- JuraWiki. One of the longer-standing wikis, it serves as a platform for cooperation among German lawyers. Some of the pages have been translated into English.
- JurisPedia. This encyclopedia of world law is a project of law schools in France, Vietnam, Netherlands, Germany and Canada. It contains more than 300 articles available in seven languages.
- Law Lib Wik. A wiki about wikis, designed for law librarians interested in using wikis for research. Its genesis was a presentation about wikis given by two law librarians, Deborah Ginsberg of Chicago-Kent College of Law and Bonnie Shucha of the University of Wisconsin Law Library.
- Lawpedia. A wiki for family law attorneys in Michigan, with articles on child custody, property division, prenuptial agreements and other topics.
- TaxAlmanac. Sponsored by the tax-software company Intuit, this wiki focuses on tax law and practice. It includes some 44,000 articles contributed by tax professionals and academics.
- Wex. From the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School, this is an ambitious undertaking to create a collaboratively written legal dictionary and encyclopedia. Only those with demonstrated legal expertise are permitted to contribute.
- WikiCrimeLine. This U.K. site encourages contributors to share their knowledge of the criminal justice system. As of this writing, the wiki has nearly 2,000 pages of content.
- Wikilaw. The goal of this wiki is to develop a free legal resource for the world at large, with an initial focus on U.S. law. Not much here yet.
- Wikiocracy. What happens when you put the law in the hands of the people? That is the question underlying this site, where citizens can rewrite actual laws or create their own.
- Wiki Law School. Think of this as CliffsNotes for the collaboration generation. The purpose is to provide outlines of all law school topics.
- WikiPatents. This site aims to improve the quality of U.S. patents by using wiki technology to encourage large-scale public comment on issued patents and pending applications. Users can discuss, rate and vote on patents, add prior-art references, and comment and vote on the relevancy of prior art.
Of course, there are any number of innovative wikis outside the legal sphere, as well. For example, the parent company of Wikipedia, Wikimedia, hosts Wikiquote, Wikinews, Wikiversity and Wikispecies, to name just some. So go forth and explore, but be wiki about it.