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
. 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section of the long-defunct Internet Law Library, meaning that it is a link that appears to be both irrelevant and outdated.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. Electronic Privacy Information Center
- Admiralty. Of 42 links, 12 were bad. One link here, to the Meta-Index for Legal Research, seems out of place, because it does not specifically address admiralty. Another link, to SeaNet – Maritime Information, promises “daily news, databases, real time trading index and other trading services for the global shipping industry,” but the URL now leads to a news bulletin for the metals industry. Dead URLs here include Shipping International and Harwich Harbor & Port Regulations.
- 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.
- Antitrust & Trade Regulation. Of 35 links, 13 were bad. This section includes this link, LJX – Antitrust Law, when Law Journal EXTRA! has been closed since 1998. This section also includes two links to resources that focus not on antitrust, but public utilities: ABA Section of Public Utility, Communications and Transportation Law and Utility-Related Environmental Information. Among the bad links were Anthony D. Becker–The Antitrust Case Browser, Antitrust and Regulatory Law Developments for Transportation Practitioners, Deregulation.com, Global Business–Antitrust and Vanderbilt Antitrust Policy Project.
- Banking Law. Of 31 links, nine were bad. Bad links included Chartered Institute of Bankers, Living with the Gramm-Leach-Billey Act (sic), Municipal Bond Basics and Rules and Regulations in Russia.
- Bankruptcy Law. Of 38 links, 11 were bad. A number of the Web sites listed here no longer exist, such as Bankruptcy Assets Online, Bankruptcy Website for Consumers and Legal Professionals and GotTrouble.com. Other links are to pages that no longer exist, even though the parent sites still do, such as Bankruptcy Resource Center. Still others are to sites that still exist, but the URL is wrong and the redirect has expired, such as The Bankruptcy Lawfinder.
- 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.
- Constitutional Law. Of 84 links, 23 were bad. Bad links here include A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment, Appointments Clause, Books Banned in the 1994-1995 Academic Year, California Anti-SLAPP Project, Coalition for Affirmative Action, Ed Flixman’s Free Speech Link, Freedom of Expression Links and Originalmeaning.com.
- Contracts. Of 12 links, three were bad. They include UCITA Online, which no longer exists, and Contract Law OnLine Information Network, which returns a 404 message.
- Corporation &
Law. Of 63 links, 11 were bad. This category included the only blog I found in the index, Corp Law Blog, but it is one that has not seen a posting since October 2004. The index includes several sites whose URLs have expired, including The Corporate Bar and The Incorporating Site, and others that produced 404 messages for pages not found, such as LawTalk – Business Law and Personal Finance and The Messaging System Time Bomb. Also here is a link to the former EDGAR site of NYU’s Enterprise , EDGAR SEC Filings from NYU. Stern Business School
- Criminal Law. Of 124 links, 35 were bad. One bad link, ALR Drunk Driving Critical Issues Guide, is to a former page within the West Group domain. A link to a purported Fugitive Enforcement Agent now leads to the Web site of an escape artist and street performer. A link for news about the Louise Woodward Case is to a site whose most recent news story is from 1999. Similarly, a link for news about The Lockerbie Trial is to a site that no longer exists. Other bad links here include Cyber-Rights & Criminal Justice, Deathpenalty.net, California Drunk Driving Law, Inmatecentral.com, Policecenter.com and ProbationInfo.com.
- Dispute Resolution & Arbitration. Of 43 links, 13 were bad. Some are links to sites that no longer exist, such as IntelliCOURT and Peace & Conflict Information Service. Others are links to pages that no longer exist even though the sites still do, such as this link to Yahoo! Arbitration and Mediation. In one case, FindLaw provides this no-longer functioning link to the Center for Information Technology and Dispute Resolution, which may lead one to conclude that the center no longer exists. In fact, it still does, at this url: www.odr.info. A FindLaw user should not have to go on hunting expeditions to track down links – FindLaw should keep these up to date.
- 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.
- Family Law. Of 106 links, 21 were bad. A number of dead Web sites listed here, such as Child Access Center, ChildSupport101, Divorced From Justice, Family Violence Awareness Page, Freedom to Marry Project, GotTrouble.com, Grandparents Visitation Rights, Kansas Elder Law Network and Survivors of Stalking (SOS).
- Gaming Law. Of 28 links, 15 were bad – more than half. Bad links included dead URLs, such as California Gaming News Network, Casino Law and Charity Game. One link, identified as the Gaming Intellectual Property Web Site, in fact leads to the Association Antitrust Update Website. Another, described as Indian Gaming In California, actually leads to the Public Law Research Institute at
of the Law. Hastings College
- 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.
- Intellectual Property. Of 80 links, 22 were bad. Several dead URLs here, including BiotechIP.com, Free Patents, IPWeek.com and licensingworld.com. As is common in the FindLaw index, this section includes a link to the former Internet Law Library, now housed at the ‘Lectric Law Library, Intellectual property. Nothing wrong with including this link, but it should carry a warning that the
is even more out of date and exists as more of an archive than a reference. Several 404 messages here, as well, including Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical, Information Technology Law Page, IP Resources and The Spinoza Intellectual Property Law Webscape. One link, to the IP License Exchange, is described on FindLaw as “news, events and a marketplace directory for intellectual property and ideas.” Instead, the links takes you to a commercial site for an IP management product. ILL
- International Law. Of 107 links, 17 were bad. Of the good pages, many are older. For example, Documents related to the Peace Process (Israel/ Palestine), was last updated in 1995. Although not mentioned by FindLaw, the page United States Policy on Bosnia contains a prominent disclaimer that it exists only as an archive of materials from before 2001. The link, Global Legal Information Network, bears a notice that it was discontinued in 2002 and scheduled to be removed entirely in 2003. Sites listed here that no longer exist include DIANA – An International Human Rights Database, Eurasia Research Center, European Legal Information Network and Japanese War Crime in the Pacific.
- Injury and Tort
Law. Of 80 links, 28 were bad. One link, State Tobacco Information Center, is described as the “ongoing” efforts of state attorneys general in their litigation against tobacco companies, when in fact the site describes itself as discontinued and superseded by another site. This may be nit-picking, but I was troubled that the descriptions of two sites in this section – Personal Injury Litigation Forum, described as “articles on personal injury litigation,” and American Legal Network, described as “information on lead poisoning, asbestos, defective product litigation and more” – did not reveal that the first site is actually the home page of a PI firm and the second one is actually a referral network’s site. Other bad links here included Baycol-Law, Breast Implant Manufacturer’s Documents, Cal Action, Fen-Phen Settlement, Firestone Recall News, HipImplantLaw.com, Japanese War Crime in the Pacific and Stonecastle, Inc.
- Labor & Employment Law. Of 128 links, 43 – more than a third – were bad. Given the importance of this area of law, I was disappointed to see such a high number of bad links. Several were expired domains, such as Americans United for Affirmative Action, FedupFeds.org, HRLawForum.com, WorkingFamilies.com and New Jersey Workers Compensation.
- Probate, Trusts & Estates. Of 61 links, 27 were bad. Among the sites listed here that no longer exist are California Estate Planning, Probate & Trust Law and EstateWeb. Many bad links returned 404 messages for pages not found, including ABA Law Practice Management Section – LPMS Estate Planning and Probate Interest Group, Definitions of Estate Planning Legalese, Estate Planning Articles and LifeNet–Estate Planning. One site, identified as Choices in Dying, in fact now focuses on helping students make choices about academic matters.
- Property Law & Real Estate. Of 62 links, 18 were bad. Some dead URLs here, such as Glossary of Real Estate and Mortgage Terms, and a number of 404 messages, including ABA Forum on the Construction Industry, Home Buyers Handbook, Housing Resources, Know Your Rental Rights, Legal Survival, Real Estate Glossary and Statues and Laws for Condominiums and Homeowner Association.
- Securities Law. Of 58 links, 13 were bad. Note that of the remaining 45 good links, several are multiple links to the same site. Thus, for example, the index includes a link to Mark Astarita’s Securities Law Home Page, as well as links to eight specific sections of Astarita’s site. Similarly, the index includes a link to the Legal Information Institute, as well as links to each of three securities-related pages within the LII Web site. There is one other instance of this, plus another site listed twice, so the 45 good links actually link to 32 distinct sites. Links to sites that no longer exist include Reality at the SEC, EnforceNet.com, Internet Center for the Abused Investor and Stocks & Securities: Defrauded Investors. In one case, the site still exists, but the URL, The Chicago Stock Exchange, is wrong. (It should be www.chx.com.)
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.