More Free & Cheap For Legal Researchers

I know I know. You don’t really want free alternatives for those costly legal research services that you have been using since Bowzer was a pup and the World Wide Web was only a twinkle in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye. I know how that reassuring logo on the top of your downloaded cases, statutes and articles warms your heart and brightens your smile. I know how you have been researching for years and know all there is to know about how to get in the know.

But just in case you might want some of the free and available information of the legal variety, head on over to the Georgetown Law Library for a current list of near comprehensive proportion of free and low cost alternatives for legal research. Heck, the list even includes some low cost offerings by the Big Two. I guess if you can’t beat them, well, you know what to do.

There is a handy Table of Contents along the left side of the page and the more detailed list and tables taking up most of the right. Of course, there is case law broken up by court, state and federal constitutions, federal and state codes and session laws, a passel of legislative history, and even administrative regulations. The low cost alternatives include:


While these lists keep popping up from time to time, it is always worth taking a look. Resources change as fast as Lindsay Lohan’s hair color on the web and you never know what new link might debut.

And if you are looking for some tips on how best to employ these tools in the most cost-effective manner, head over to the ABA‘s Law Practice Magazine for a great article on 10 Ways to Stretch Your Research Dollars – How To Get The Facts On A Dime. The tips include: ways to access the Big Two in a more tailored way; employ advanced search functionality on the Web; use alternative resources for public docs like court decisions; perform competitive corporate research; use sites like JDSupra to assist in preparing your own court documents; use the Web to help with off-line research; and, verify that what you find on the Web is the best source for your purposes. This is a fantastic collection of suggestions that are sure to hone and refine your skill set.

Hat tip to the Legal Writing Prof Blog and to the Ross-Blakely Law Library Blog, which never fail to come up with the goods.

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Is the Rule Of Law Best Administered by Concurring Opinions?

A very interesting read indeed, Paul Lomio at Stanford‘s Legal Research Plus blog cites to an article by James Fowler and Yonatan Lupu called The Strategic Content Model of Supreme Court Opinion Writing. The authors, professors of political science at the University of California, San Diego, posit that the better supported or “grounded” opinions are concurring opinions. The article examines how the content of judicial opinions is as important as the outcome in terms of long-term impact and that concurring opinions tend to offer a more developed discussion and greater insight into the underlying reasoning employed.

Apparently, the position of the median justice has a greater impact on citations in the majority opinion than the majority justice’s own agenda. This suggests justices are more responsive to each other than to their political motivations.

It makes sense to me that concurring opinions produce better reasoning and support. There is little incentive to flesh out a unanimous decision. And a dissenting opinion creates the type of “either or” mentality that raises roadblocks rather than constructive discussion. Perhaps the more congenial “concurrence” encourages dialogue and exploration, which in turn facilitates a well-thought-out analysis. So read those concurring opinions closely – there may be more than meets the eye.


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What the iPhone 3.0 Software Can Do For Your Business

The new Apple iPhone
Image by Victor Svensson via Flickr

The iPhone blog has a breakout of all of the new features in 3.0 (coming this summer to an iPhone or iPod Touch near you) that directly relate to business interests. Recent past enhancements include Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync compatibility and remote wiping and other-enterprise oriented tools.

While these prior changes favored the enterprise, new 3.0 features appear to include treats for both the business user and the enterprise. While I recommend you hit the jump for greater detail, the article lists the following: anti-phishing in Safari; more detailed call-log; capability of creating meeting invitations; encrypted profiles; more languages; better business directory access; iPhone – Mac notes sync (Windows apparently is coming); over the air profiles; support for proxy servers; certificate revocation; and, on demand access to your VPN.

Of course, Apple’s opening of the API and SDK to developers will yield more applications, both business and personal. And it will be interesting to see how developers take advantage of the new features to craft functionality across the software spectrum. Unfortunately for me, my enterprise is still not biting. But I keep hoping. And asking. Because if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

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