While the Web is useful to lawyers for legal research, it is even more so for non-legal research — for finding the facts a lawyer can use to back up the legal argument. One of the best sources on the Internet for pure facts is the U.S. Census Bureau, which recently added two reports that are brimming with data that help draw a clearer picture of who we are.
Most recent is the Statistical Abstract of the United States, published Feb. 11, which is a portrait of the U.S. in numbers. Its 30 sections cover population, vital statistics, health, education, law enforcement and the courts, human services, employment, prices, spending, construction, manufacturing, and much more. Here, for example, you can learn that, between 1980 and 2000, the murder rate in this country dropped by almost half and the number of burglaries dropped by an even greater percentage. The report provides a wealth of practical information.
Also here is the 2002 Census of Governments, published Jan. 15. Taken every five years, this census covers three major subjects: government organization, public employment and government finance. This report is the first of the three, covering government organization. It presents an amazingly detailed overview of the 87,576 governmental units in the U.S., which, beside the U.S. and the states, includes counties, municipalities, townships, school districts, and special districts.