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Legal information online
August 29, 2007 6:27 AM   Subscribe

The Law Library of Congress’s Guide to Online Law includes legal information from over a hundred different countries and all fifty states. The Legal Information Institute has guides to 130 different areas of law. The Armed Forces Legal Assistance site is also a great resource for basic legal information, aimed at service members, but often generally helpful, on topics including consumer law, family law and trusts and estates. Your State’s Bar Association may also offer information specific to your jurisdiction.
posted by ND¢ (20 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
There are a lot of lawyers on Mefi. If you can think of a website that provides accurate, understandable, consumer-level legal information in your area of expertise, I am sure that people would like to know about it. For myself, I think that The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment Law Guide is great.
posted by ND¢ at 6:31 AM on August 29, 2007


Hey admins, howsabout adding this to ND¢'s sidebar entry?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:41 AM on August 29, 2007


This is incredible, and I didn't know about it. Thank you so very much.
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:47 AM on August 29, 2007


Another topic that comes up a lot on AskMe is E-commerce. Besides those links to the applicable laws, there is also an online vehicle to receive, develop, and refer criminal complaints regarding the rapidly expanding arena of cyber crime: The Internet Crime Complaint Center.
posted by ND¢ at 6:53 AM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, awesome post! Were you planning it or was it inspired by all the glory that attends you when you achieve sidebar status?
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:08 AM on August 29, 2007


And there's always the granddaddy of self-help legal information, Nolo.
posted by twsf at 7:08 AM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Copyright, patent and trademark are issues that come up a lot on the internet.
posted by ND¢ at 7:11 AM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I wasn't planning this post. My sidebarrification just got me thinking that lawyers on the internet seem to spend most of their time debating with each other over minute points of obscure law that have no bearing on most people's lives. You know what do most people care about Posner's critique of a recent Supreme Court dissent? However, as AskMe can attest to, people are always wanting to know general information about things like immigration, landlord/tenant law, copyright infringement, things like that, and the internet is a great way to spread that information, and there are lots of sites that provide that service, but it seems like not a whole lot of people know about them. So, I thought that maybe with all the lawyers on MeFi, we could point people in the right direction, so that they know enough legal information to be able to make good decisions.
posted by ND¢ at 7:22 AM on August 29, 2007


Meta-question: have there been any developments regarding the copyright status of the page number placement in the West publications (reporters) of court opinions? Courts seem to require cites to these. I know the opinions themselves are public domain, so the page and volume information is the sticking point. Looking at my old notes, I had a circuit split between the 2nd and 9th circuits.
posted by exogenous at 7:24 AM on August 29, 2007


Correction, 2nd and 8th circuits.
posted by exogenous at 7:24 AM on August 29, 2007


From now on all my IANAL disclaimers on the green will be followed with a link to this post.
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:36 AM on August 29, 2007


The UK government's Statute Law Database contains primary and secondary legislation for all parts of the UK, including revisions, and indication of whether law is in force or not. Previous government web sites, like the HMSO (now OPSI) web site listed in the LOC guide only have unrevised statutes from the last 19 years, which are sometimes out-of-date by the time they come into effect.

The SLD also gives you information about when laws come into effect, which is necessary due to the bizarre system here of letting the executive decide when statutes passed by parliament are effective, section by section.
posted by grouse at 7:38 AM on August 29, 2007


I am sure that there are better family law guides out there, but I just came across these sets of charts put out by the American Bar Association. The charts summarize basic laws in each state by topic, including custody, alimony and grounds for divorce. All charts are current as of November 2006.
posted by ND¢ at 7:40 AM on August 29, 2007


The U.S. Small Business Administration has a Small Business Planner that goes over many aspects of starting your own business, including obtaining licenses and permits and paying business and employer taxes.
posted by ND¢ at 8:05 AM on August 29, 2007


I love these sites, and I use them all the time. One of my favorite things from LoC is their Global Legal Information Network. (Click on "More Search Options" to get a better sense of the search power they offer.) While GLIN is still a limited database, it does allow searching through legal information from a good number of the more useful jurisdictions of the world. While their primary materials are available in the language(s) of the jurisdiction in question, they do have English-language abstracts, which is pretty darned cool, IMHO.

Also, have you heard of Tim Wu's newest project: AltLaw? Of course, it's still in beta, but as it grows, the whole world will come to worship Tim Wu as the hero he is . . .

Finally, if you're interested in comparative or international law, you've gotta know about GlobaLex. But if you're just looking for a great blog that features online legal resources and research tips as a matter of course, then this should be your first stop.

Thanks again for this FPP, ND¢. If this isn't among the best of the internets, then I don't know what else could be.

[on preview: exogenous, I have NOT heard of any resolution to that circuit split yet. I hope that if someone else has, they'll post that info here.]
posted by deejay jaydee at 8:06 AM on August 29, 2007


Here is an incredible resource: Consumer's Guide To Legal Help On The Internet.
posted by ND¢ at 8:06 AM on August 29, 2007


Oh, and P.S.: Wanna hear, rather than read, about legal research tips and resources from the master? Tune your iPods, mp3s, and other digital listening devices here.
posted by deejay jaydee at 8:11 AM on August 29, 2007


I teach a class in legal research for laypeople as a kind of hobby (it's a free class, offered quarterly), and used to teach advanced research to lawyers. The link posted by NDcent (where's that cent sign on my keyboard?) looks really good-- for one thing, it looks like the top link for each state (Legal Services of Missouri, something comparable for Texas) can get you, by a short drill-down, to real information you can use. General observations--(a) for most purposes, going directly to the statutes isn't helpful. (b) therefore, find something secondary where someone who knows something has written on the subject in which you are interested. Nolo Press has pretty much taken over the field. (c) Analogize practicing law on yourself to doing your own electrical work or plumbing. For minor things, there's no reason why an intelligent person can't do it herself, but the more important the subject matter, the more sense it makes to hire a professional. (d) Always check how up to date any resource is. Any legal self-help book with a copyright date before 2005 is inherently suspect. And there's out of date statutes online too, some of them put out by the states themselves.

re exogenous' question about West's claimed copyrights on pagination and pinpoints, I was under the impression that, per Matthew Bender v. West out of the 2d Circuit, West can't claim a copyright in its pagination. Anything from other circuits is going to be an older case, probably superseded by Feist or just the passage of time. There may have been something in the DOJ consent order to the Thomson buyout that bars West from claiming copyright in pagination...which was one of the more asinine arguments I've ever heard anyway. But it worked...for a while.
posted by missouri_lawyer at 7:24 PM on August 29, 2007


WorldLII has links to legislation, case law, legal journals, and material on different legal topics from countries worldwide.

Globallex (New York University) has research guides to topics in international law, comparative law, and laws of different countries.
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:04 AM on August 30, 2007


CanLII provides access to Canadian federal and provincial statutes and caselaw.
posted by modernnomad at 8:06 AM on August 30, 2007


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