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Finale of the research website series

March 3, 2011 Leave a comment

I am going to introduce two research databases in my last blog posts as the ending of this research resource series. I found them by using the database links offered by Duke Law library website (this is how I found most of the databases I introduced in this blog and why I wanted talk about the library website resources as my presentation topic today).

I. Bepress Legal Repository

Bepress, as shown on their homepage, stands for “the Berkeley Electronic Press”, which publishes high quality peer-reviewed journals. In Bepress Legal Repository, it offers you free access to tons of journal works. On the homepage of Bepress Legal Repository, you can browse the 10 most recent publications, 10 most popular papers or 10 most recent Peer- Reviewed Articles in legal repository. Or you can simply browse it by institutions or subjects.

Also, you can find papers by their search box on the homepage. The advanced search feature is handy to use. You can combine and create the search items you want and make it easier for you to find the article you want. I run a research on “child abuse” using the full text search. It showed 5306 results arranged by year. You can also change the order into arranging by publication, author or title. One great feature it has is that you can asked them to notify you for future results in the subjects you searched which can keep informed of the latest paper published in that area.

II State Legal sources on the Web

Supported by U Mich, this website is clear and easy to use. It is in the form of chart arranged by states. Within this website, you can find resources regarding Bills, Session Laws, Codified Law and Constitution, New Regulations and Executive Orders, Codified Regulations, Attorney General Opinions, State Courts cases, Newspapers, State Law Library and Election Data. The good thing about this website is that you can actually find resources that are not so common in legal research like the attorney general opinion. Everything on that chat has a link to the particular website for you to do further research. This website is user-friendly and will be really helpful if you want to concentrate on state legal information.

However, the last update of this website is on May 1, 2009, almost 2 years ago which means you have to pay attention to the result gain from this site. You may need to check if the links in this chat covers the latest resources.

Hopefully these sites will be helpful to your future research. If not, you can always try to find something valuable in law school library website which works for me every time.

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ICC—the official website to do your international criminal research

February 24, 2011 Leave a comment

On Tuesday’s class, Professor Haight has mentioned the ICC—International Criminal Court website when talking about doing international law research. I explored that website after class since I am interested in criminal law and found out that ICC actually offers a lot of resources than it look like (no offense to the appearance of it).

On the homepage of ICC, you can get a brief idea about the court and structure of it. It is a very helpful introduction when you just start the international criminal law research and want to get a decent idea about what you are dealing with.  On the right of the homepage, there are seven sections that the website covers. Under situations and cases, you browse cases by country. I clicked on the first case on that page which is “The prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo”. You can see there is a brief profile about the defendant and the trail procedure of this case and what counts is he accused of. On the right of this page, you can see the court records, transcripts, background information and press releases about this case. Among these sections, I am particularly interested in Press Release. In this section, you can see a lot of related news concerning the case. This officially released news is pretty short but quite reliable. There is also a section especially about Press and Media. You can find ICC Weekly Update in it.

The most useful section in ICC to me is “Legal texts and tools“. It has two subdivisions, “Official Journal and Legal Tools”. Official Journal of the ICC was created pursuant to regulation 7 of the Regulations of the Court. Legal Tools offers access for uses with the legal information, digests and software necessarily for doing international criminal research. According to the website, the legal tools “seek to serve as a complete virtual library on international criminal law and justice (involving war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide or aggression)”. It has over 44,000 documents and legal digests. On the website, it offered you instructions on using the Tools and the current status of the Tools. Clicking on “Go to Database”, it will open a new webpage where you can do your research. I run a research on “rape” and you can eliminate the results by content type, organization/state or by source of the documents. It also automatically arranged the results by relevancy.

For an official site of International Criminal law, this website gives you a thorough understanding of this topic and helps you a lot when you want to do some research on it. And the most important thing is that it is official and more reliable.

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HG.org—there must be something useful to you

February 17, 2011 Leave a comment

As shown on the homepage of HG.org, it is a worldwide legal directory. To me, it is definitely not that “love of first sight” kind of website simply because it looks nothing but simple and easy to use. Like what discussed by chancyxie in her latest blog post (see it here), HG.org give me the impression of a typical information over loaded website. Of course, I changed my not so good impression of this legal research website after I started browsing it and finding more and more useful features of it (otherwise I wouldn’t bother to introduce it to you).

HG.org has many sections on its homepage. I think the most helpful three sections for legal research is “Law & Practice”, “Associations” and “Publications”.

“Law & Practice” may be the very section that you can find most information you want in this website. The HG.org law center covers more than 70 core areas, 190 sub areas of law and practice on US (both federal and state), European and International Laws. All areas are categorized alphabetically which is pretty easy for you to find the area you are interested in. To see its feature in detail, I tried to find information on trademark within the law center. By clicking “trademark”, I can see a brief index with links to all the parts contained in this area. Also, there is a brief introduction about trademark which contains some terms that you may want to use in your research. This introduction is like a brief version of treaties that give you a rough idea about this particular area. Under the “Trademark Law” section, take US as an example, it listed the most important and fundamental law in the field of trademark such as the Lanham Act of 1946 (I wish I knew this website when I did the first assignment) and some official government website that governs this area. If you want to do some international trademark law research, you can find a lot under the section “Trademark Law – International”. On the bottom of this page is the “HG.org Intellectual Property Law Guides” which leads you to other area in IP law which may be related to the subject you are search for.

Another great part is “Articles on HG.org Related to Trademark Law”. Except for the articles listed on the webpage, if you click on “All IP Law Articles”, it will link you to another section which is useful in HG.org, “Publications“. The problem about this section is that it may be hard to find the exact article you want since there is no search function in it. However, if you only want to get some background knowledge, then it will be a good choice to read articles offered here. On the left side, there is two sections “Publication Center” which links you to books, dictionaries, journals etc. and Law Libraries which links you to law school libraries arranged by states (which often offer you a lot of useful resources on their website).

The last section I want to mention is “Associations“. You can find legal resources about arbitration and mediation associations both international and domestic which will do a lot of help if you are trying to do some comparison on arbitration.

To sum up, HG.org has tons of information (maybe a little bit too much) covers a wide range of law. There must be something you find useful to your research. Just choose wisely.

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Intute-Law, Time to get some training

February 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Looking for something international? Among the numerous website covering international legal research, Intute-Law has its secret weapon (well, maybe not that secret) to stand out.

Intute is a free online service especially good for students. Reviewed and evaluated by specialists of certain areas, the resources on Intute is selective and thus more valuable and useful for you to use. On the right corner of the first page of Intute-Law, under “Browse Law”, Intute cataloged those legal resources website by jurisdictions and subject area which is quite clear for first sight. For example, if you click on “international criminal law”, it will offer you 60 related website from different jurisdictions. One thing great about it is that each link comes with a brief introduction about the feature of the website. After reading the introduction, it will definitely save you a lot of time in eliminating those websites that are not that useful to you. Under the introduction part, there is a little icon allows you to highlight the website you find interested in so that you can find it easily when finish browsing all the results.

Without any doubt, they also have their own search engine. Click on “advanced search” and select the subject areas, resource types and the country you are looking for, you can do a research quite easily.

So far it may seems that Intute is just like many other research website, well, maybe more user-friendly since the website looks very clear and easy to use. However, as I said in the beginning, Intute has its secret weapon that makes it worth more attention, the “virtual training suite“. This training program aims to help users develop their own internet research skills. It offers many subjects besides Law, and the tutorial is again very user-friendly and easy to get start. Divided in to four parts, “Tour, Discover, Judge and Success”, it takes about an hour to finish the whole tutorial according to the website. Step by step, you can experience a tour about the legal system, jurisdictions, legal themes, comparative law, international law, methodology and legal research techniques and many other helpful topics. You can always jump back and forth to any parts that you want to do again which is quite convenient.

By and large, Intute is a good helper for not only being a free research website, but also a tutor that instruct you to develop your own research skill.

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WorldLII—Still free and covers more

February 3, 2011 Leave a comment

I am sure you are familiar with LII, the Legal Information Institute created by our law school that provides no-cost access to current American and international legal research sources. It then became the beginning of the Free Access to Law Movement started from 1992 till now.

WorldLII, as you can tell from the name, is the umbrella project for all the other LII projects. The LIIs have a declaration shows their philosophy of access to law, which announces that public legal information from all countries and international institutions is part of the common heritage of humanity and maximizing access to this information promotes justice and the rule of law.

With access to 14 legal Information Institutes, WorldLII contains 1165 databases that cover 123 jurisdictions. And the numbers are still in increasing. As you can see from the homepage of WorldLII, it comprises three main facilities: Databases, Catalog and Web search.

While building the databases on Legal Information Institutes like AustLII, BAILII, CanLII, HKLII, LII (Cornell) and PacLII, WorldLII also has its own exclusively databases including the databases of decisions of international Courts reports, law journals, and so on. Clicking on “All Countries” on the right side of the homepage, you can enter databases arranged by country names in alphabetical order.

The categories in WorldLII are also very useful when it comes to international legal research in a certain area. You can start a research by countries, LIIs, Law Journals, Law Libraries or by subjects, etc. Personally I prefer doing research by subjects, which saves a lot of time when you know the specific area you are working on. Searching by libraries also is good choice if that library is specialized in the area you want to explore.

Overall, WorldLII can be quite helpful if you want to do some international legal research and have no idea about which LII you should start with. However, it does have some links (e.g. the subject of citizenship & Migration) that lead to “page not found”, which can be a little bit annoying.

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Alexa—the helper to tell a reliable website

February 2, 2011 Leave a comment

We often find it quite a tough problem when it comes to the reliability of a certain website. No matter it is about buying sth online or searching for a journal article or simply just try to learn the definition of a new word, you definitely don’t want to make your time and effort worthless by using an unreliable website, not to say it may charge you money while give you nothing valuable.

To some extent, Alexa is the very search engine you need to use before you trust the website. Alexa is a quite useful resource for people to discover information about websites. Using the “site infor” page on Alexa, you can find almost everything statically about the website.

For example, if we search our law school library website by Alexa site info, it will show you the Alexa Traffic Rank and Traffic Rank in US of it. Traffic rank is a way to show the popularity of library.lawschool.cornell.edu. It is calculated using a combination of average daily visitors to the website and pageviews on it over the past 3 months. Traffic Rank in US means the popularity in the specific country. You can also get the number of how many times the website is linked to and somehow reveal the reputation. There are reviews (if any) that can help you to see how people feel about the website, which in our case; no one has reviewed our law school library website yet. There are many specific and detailed statics available in site info which allows you to have a overall judgment over the website you are looking for.

Another useful tools in Alexa is the “Top Sites” and “What’s Hot”. In “Top Sites”, you can find what’s hot in the websites world by country, by category or just see it in general. Ranked by their 1-month Alexa traffic, the lists definitely give you some idea about the most popular websites (maybe means somewhat more reliable ones) nowadays. Under “By category”, it offers 17 general categories with many sub-categories and related categories, which make it easier to search websites, cover a specific area. In “What’s Hot“, sites are managed by topics, which is easy for someone who is interested in keep up with the very hot issues happening in the world.

Another tool worth mentioning is the toolbar of Alexa, probably their most widely-used. With the toolbar, you can evaluate the reliability of the site with the features the tool bar offers you at the same time when you are visiting it. One great idea about the tool bar is that you can also be a contributor to the Alexa tool bar community. The more people use it, the more detailed and reliable evaluation of the sites you can get.

Next time when you feel like using a certain website to do something serious, you may want to check it with Alexa first. After all, it’s never too late to be cautious.

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