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35+ Vital Sites
Seven experts offer up their most valuable Web resources.
Nov/Dec ’02 Issue

Legal experts in key specialty areas of law were asked to provide their top Web site picks that are of assistance in each practice area. Each site offers unique insight in the areas of family law, litigation, personal injury, estate planning, real estate, business and corporate practice and intellectual property. So get ready to bookmark these valuable sites.

Family Law
By John Brewer

Family law Web sites range from sites that feature venue-specific information to nationwide resources useful to all legal professionals.

1. Oklahoma State Courts Network
Every state should have free resources that are available for its legal professionals. The Oklahoma State Courts Network has the complete published Oklahoma case law database and statutes online. Both are annotated and conform to a public domain citation system. Real-time court dockets are available for a number of counties, and online images will be available in the future.

2. Oklahoma Public Legal Research System
Unpublished appellate cases are available from the Oklahoma Public Legal Research System at this site. Oklahoma lawyers and legal researchers are blessed with this and the Oklahoma State Courts Network Web sites.

3. Doug Loudenback on the Web
Doug Loudenback is a wise, wily Oklahoma family law practitioner and a good guy with a cowboy heritage. His Web site is loaded with accurate guidance that is specific to Oklahoma matters. His macros for Corel WordPerfect in the field of family law are revered by practitioners in Oklahoma.

4. Divorce Net
In my humble opinion, this is the best nationwide family-law specific Web site. The information on this Web site boasts a high level of accuracy and is a resource that permits attorneys and other legal professionals to easily drill into resources for local venues. Whenever there is an out-of-state matter, it’s prudent to visit this site first.

5. American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
This is a great site to find well-written articles that address both fundamental and esoteric family law issues. The authors are competent family-law practitioners. I recently found an excellent article here relating to cyberspace issues and domestic matters.

Bonus Site: LexisOne
This is arguably the best overall free legal Web site. Free case law and an abundance of other materials reside on this site. The database of Internet Web links for practice areas is superb. The Family and Domestic Law portal is two thumbs up in my opinion.

Real Estate
By Jeffrey Allen

In addition to the normal legal sites for statutory and case law, the following sites have information that real estate legal assistants might find useful in the course of their work.

1. DataQuick
For a fee, this site will provide you with a property profile that includes information about sales of comparable properties, local schools and businesses, demographics and area maps, Property History Report and Ownership Verification.

2. California Department of Real Estate
In California, the Department of Real Estate maintains an extremely useful Web site. On this site, you can verify whether individuals or companies have active real estate licenses, obtain the license numbers and find out certain disciplinary information. The department makes copies of its regulations available on the site as well. Other states likely have similar sites.

3. Real Estate Support
This site provides links to many valuable resources, including the National Association of Realtors and state real estate associations. The site and the available links provide a variety of contacts and information about real estate, real estate practice, financing, market conditions and potential sources for expert witnesses.

4. The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA)

BOMA and its related organizations provide research, education and advocacy on real estate topics and related legislation. The site provides a good source of information on the industry’s perspective on real estate issues. The organization is perhaps best known for its measurement standards for property. Those standards are often employed in commercial leases and are available at the site.

5. The American Land Title Association
This site has information about title insurance, title policy guidelines, basic policy terms and available endorsements. Additionally, some states or regions have their own land title associations. These states might have separate sites. The California Land Title Association (CLTA) site www.clta.org for example, contains information about CLTA title policy terms, available endorsements, title practices and forms, as well as information about pending legislation and other related matters.

Bonus Site: The American Institute of Architects (AIA)
This comprehensive Web site provides copies of AIA contract documents, information about ethical considerations for architects, and potential assistance in locating expert witnesses. For firms dealing with any type of construction defect litigation, this is definitely a must-see Web site.

Estate Planning
By Denise P. Ward

1. Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Any list of resources regarding estate and tax planning would be incomplete without reference to the origin of the species — the IRS site. The site provides a tax professionals page and search engine for forms and publications. It also provides downloadable forms and instructions in Portable Document Format (PDF), as well as fill-in forms. Publication 78 is available as a searchable database to determine the status of exempt and charitable organizations.

2. The Estate Planning Links

This is a comprehensive group of links to estate planning resources, advanced estate planning, practice and technology, estate planning calculations and calculators, forms, insurance articles, periodicals, elder law and many other Web sites. This comprehensive Web resource is an excellent starting point for your research.

3. ABA Real Property, Probate and Trust Law
This site, available only to American Bar Association members, is the home page of the “Real Property, Probate and Trust” section. It provides access to the Section’s Probate & Property magazine and the substantive Real Property, Probate and Trust Journal, with search engines dating back to 1995. It also provides links to listservs and other estate planning sites.
4. New York State Bar Association

With access restricted only to New York State Bar Association members, the “Trust and Estates Law” section is rather comprehensive for a local bar association site. Lois LawWatch provides summaries of pertinent recent decisions affecting section members. Section members can access and search the archived newsletters and join listservs. This Web site provides a thorough list of links to substantive sites specializing in this area. It also provides links to savings bond tools and valuators sites that are extremely valuable.

5. Cowles Legal Systems Inc.

This site is available to subscribers of the Cowles Legal Systems. This site provides articles intended to train legal professionals in this specialized area of the law. The tax planning section, for example, contains articles on options for funding marital deductions and nonmarital shares, which assets are subject to federal estate tax, drafting considerations, pecuniary valuation formulas and disclaimers. Intended to integrate with the Cowles Practice Management concepts, this site is an integral part of the Cowles System.

Bonus Sites:Tax and Accounting Sites Directory
This site links to many articles and IRS publications, including estate-planning magazine articles for the layman, legal professional and attorney alike.

Bureau of Public Debt Online
You can obtain the Savings Bond Wizard at this site, which helps manage savings bonds in an estate or estate planning practice. You also can obtain current and future valuations for various types of U.S. Savings Bonds.

By Bruce A. Olson

1. Google

This is where I start any Internet search. It’s the most comprehensive search engine, and the search results invariably give me good links to further resources that are helpful.

2. Craig D. Ball

Craig Ball is a trial lawyer from Texas who is known throughout the country for his cyber sleuthing presentations. He maintains a comprehensive set of links on his Web site to many helpful resources. When you need to get the dirt on someone, start here. Kudos to Ball on this great service to the legal profession.

3. Law Library Resource Xchange (LLRX)

This Web site describes itself as “a unique, free Web journal dedicated to providing legal … professionals with the most up-to-date information on a wide range of Internet research and technology-related issues. …” This Web site is an outstanding resource for finding more advanced, legal-specific information on the Net.

4. Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA)
This site offers great resources to its members. The links to ATLA Exchange, its online searchable database of materials and the discussion forums are particularly helpful.

5. FindLaw
When I am not really sure what Web site I should go to for an answer to a particular legal question, I begin my search with FindLaw and surf through the entire Web site until I find the links that take me to the answers I need to find. It’s the Yahoo! of the legal world, and I approach it the same way I do Yahoo!.

Personal Injury
By Jonathan Franklin

1. VersusLaw

I am a big proponent of cheap or free, and VersusLaw offers a service that comes within that classification. VersusLaw offers no frills legal research for every jurisdiction. The library of material is fairly comprehensive. VersusLaw helps me as a national coordinating counsel to keep abreast of developments outside my primary jurisdiction at a cost-effective rate.

2. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
www.cpsc.gov and www.nhtsa.com
A large portion of my work involves product liability related matters. These sites keep me up-to-date on product recalls and related liability issues.

3. Law.com

Law.com offers a well-balanced serving of information, news and resources for the legal profession. This site helps me stay up-to-date on legal-related matters, and sometimes helps me to think outside the box.

4. American Medical Association (AMA)

The AMA site provides relevant information on medical matters. I use this site to locate a doctor’s address and find out whether the doctor in question is a member, which can be important in evaluating a particular physician. I also rely on it for generalized research on medical issues.

By Thomas A. Aldrich

1. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

This site is essential for any firm that represents public companies. A recent reorganization of the site makes it much easier to navigate than it used to be, and SEC filings of public companies in the EDGAR system now can be accessed on the same day for free.

2. FirstGov

This relatively new site is a clearinghouse for a wide variety of business and legal information for all branches of the federal government. It provides links to just about every federal agency a paralegal or attorney might need.

3. The Library of Congress
This Library of Congress site is most likely the best source for information on the status of bills pending in Congress and other Congressional information. This is a great source for immediate access to copies of pending or enacted legislation.

4. My Yahoo!

There are a lot of portal sites on the Web that let you personalize your start page, but I think My Yahoo! is the most comprehensive such site in terms of available content, and it’s one of the easiest to use. In one place, I can track press releases, stock prices, wire service stories and SEC filings for all of my public company clients. I also can collect stories on specific industries I might be following, as well as national and international business news.

5. New York Times Dealbook

This daily HTML-based e-mail newsletter links to an extremely broad variety of news resources (far beyond just that of The New York Times) with articles pertaining to issues such as mergers and acquisitions, finance, business law and other timely information for the conscientious business law practitioner. This site is also a great way to keep up-to-date on late breaking business news and legal trends from the comfort of your law office desktop or laptop computer. Visit this site and check “DealBook” to subscribe. It will unlock a world of valuable information for you.

Bonus Sites: Bowne Financial Print
This Web site provides online access to the SEC’s statutes and regulations from Bowne Financial Print. It’s also a great Internet tool for most true road warriors in need of access to reliable legal information to answer business-related questions on the fly.

RR Donnelley Financial & Sons
Sponsored by RR Donnelley, the well-known printer, this Web site collects a great variety of information useful to corporate and securities lawyers, and other legal professionals, organized by subject matter. Many major law firms (including mine) post their memos about new securities law developments, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, on this Web site for the benefit of other legal professionals.

Intellectual Property
By Paul D. Pollard

In the 21st century, intellectual property will play an even more important role in the lives of average people around the world. Works of the mind such as inventions, designs, trademarks, books, music and films, are now used and enjoyed on every continent. With the remarkable rise in Internet use, especially for commerce and information exchange, the intellectual property system is crucial for the organized development of a digital society. In turn, the Internet poses many opportunities and complex challenges for the intellectual property community. The following are my top choices of information and knowledge exchange Web sites in the field of intellectual property.

1. U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO)
For more than 200 years, the basic role of the USPTO has remained the same: to promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing (for limited times to inventors) the exclusive right to their respective discoveries (Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution). Under this system of protection, American industry has flourished. New products have been invented, new uses for old ones discovered and employment opportunities created for literally millions of Americans. The USPTO Web site is chock-full of data on every single U.S. patent and trademark established since the American Revolution. The information is accurate and, best of all, free. The USPTO recently completed an upgrade to its Web site, making it much more user-friendly.

2. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

This official government Web site is for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which has specific jurisdiction over the U.S. Court of Customs and Patent Appeals and the appellate jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Claims. As the court responsible for all patent appeals, its recent precedent opinions are available on the Web site. There are also links to older opinions, the history of the court and other information on patents. Any attorney or legal assistant facing a potential appeal case involving patents will find the information provided on this court’s Web site invaluable. Although the Web site is somewhat difficult to navigate, the data available there is worth the effort.

3. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

This is the official Web site for the WIPO, which is a United Nations agency based in Geneva. WIPO is made up of more than 175 nations, including the United States, and administers more than 20 international treaties covering patents. The most successful and widely used of these treaties is the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which implements the concept of a single international patent application and has legal impact in the countries that are bound by the treaty and designated by the applicant. WIPO’s free PCT database is available on this Web site and is the primary reason I recommend it. The database currently contains data relating to applications published since January 1, 1997. WIPO’s Web site is difficult to maneuver but continues to be an exceptional data source for PCT’s and foreign patents.

4. Delphion Research
Generally, I avoid fee-for-service Web sites, but Delphion is an exception. With Delphion, you can search all the world’s top patent collections, including those of the United States, Europe, Japan, WIPO and the International Patent Application Document Database in a single search. Delphion also gives you access to important nonpatent prior art collections, including IBM Technical Disclosure Bulletins (TDBs), the abstracts of ISI scientific journal articles and the IP.com Disclosures and Alternates databases. Delphion’s Gallery of Obscure Patents has always been a favorite of mine. Although the gallery is free, Delphion’s premium search services require a subscription to the site. The fees charged by Delphion are reasonable, given the vast amount of data available to the user. Delphion is also one of the most user-friendly Web sites I frequent.

5. NEC Research Institute ResearchIndex (formerly known as “CiteSeer”)
This is an often-overlooked Web site that is full of scientific literature and intellectual property articles. ResearchIndex identifies itself as a “digital library” because of its philosophy that information on the Internet should be available to the public at large for free. As the Internet has revolutionized the way people access information, it has opened up new possibilities for concepts such as digital libraries and information dissemination and retrieval. I have found that ResearchIndex is an excellent, free source of prior art related to intellectual property.

John Brewer is a solo practitioner in Oklahoma City. His practice includes business, tax and technology issues as well as challenging family law matters. He is a former chairman of the Law Office Management and Technology section of the Oklahoma Bar Association. His e-mail address is [email protected].

Jeffrey Allen handles real estate, business transactions and litigation matters and regularly speaks at continuing legal education programs. An active member of the ABA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section, he serves as the technology issues editor and writes for GP Solo and Small Firm Lawyer magazine.

Denise P. Ward, of Grean & Ward is an attorney based in Port Chester, N.Y.

Bruce A. Olson is a trial lawyer and shareholder in the Wisconsin-based law firm of Davis & Kuelthau.

Jonathan Franklin is an attorney based in Miami. He can be reached at [email protected].

Thomas A. Aldrich is a partner and the leader of Thompson Hine’s Corporate Transactions & Securities practice group. He focuses his practice on domestic and international mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures, securities law compliance and reporting, corporate governance, public offerings and debt financings.

Paul D. Pollard is the director of litigation support for Fish & Richardson in San Diego.

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