Legal Research on the Internet

The only statement about the ethics of using the internet to do legal research come from NY Bar Assocation, Ethics Op. 709 (1998).  This says:

To the extent that the attorney in performing legal research for clients relies on information obtained from searching of Internet sites, the attorney’s duty under Canon 6 to represent the client competently requires that the attorney take care to assure that the information obtained is reliable.

So it falls within the attorney’s responsibility to his or her client to determine whether researching on the internet is possible.  Is it possible?  Have free sources expanded to the point that they are all authoritative and reliable?  What kind of research can you do well and what kind of research can’t you do well?  Learn what the limits are on Wednesday, March 30 & Thursday, March 31 at 1pm in Rm 334.  Register here and find the class page here.


Campaign Finance and the First Amendment

Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (January 2010), there has been much anticipation about upcoming cases. Yesterday, the Court heard oral arguments in Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, a case challenging the constitutionality of an Arizona law that provides matching funds to candidates who accept public financing. The transcript is available at the Court’s web site.

Among the sources providing coverage of the case and oral argument are these:

For continuing coverage of this case, check these sources, other BNA updates (including Supreme Court Today in United States Law Week), and many others. See the library’s Supreme Court research portal.


Linda Greenhouse on the SCOTUS Term so far

In her most recent blog post, Linda Greenhouse reflects on the decisions from the Supreme Court in the current Term. There have been some unusual coalitions and outcomes that defy expectations: “At the very least, this preliminary snapshot reminds those of us (and I include myself) who think they have taken the court’s measure that assumptions are a poor substitute for close observation.”

Greenhouse’s posts are available in the New York Times’ Opinionator blog.


Are you ready for the summer?

Are you ready for the summer? Remember, all legal workplaces have different resources – some offices only have Lexis and some offices only have Westlaw.  According to the latest information from Westlaw, only 15% of law offices currently have WestlawNext.  Bottom line: practice on all of the major databases.

To ensure your success in legal research this summer brush up your research skills with:


If you want to talk about evaluating your research skills please contact Stefanie or sign-up for an appointment with a reference librarian:



International Legal Research

Get a quick overview of this complex and increasingly important area of legal research.  The library has very extensive guides on various aspects of international legal research.  This class will look at the UN and the EU with some tips on getting documents for other IGOs.  It will also touch briefly on strategies to use when researching a Private International Law topic.

  • Monday, March 7 at 1pm and Tuesday, March 8 at 2:30pm in Rm 334

Certification Class on Caselaw Research in Print

Did you know you can do complex case-law research in print?  Besides being an invaluable skill if you lack LexisNexis or Westlaw access, proficiency in print caselaw research can help you understand and use headnotes and key numbers better whether researching in print or online.

Instructor: Steve Donweber •
March 9, 1pm and March 10, 1pm