Suppose you want to find the latest legal news on what's happening in the U.S. Supreme Court or in a hot area of law like intellectual property or employee rights. Where should you look?
They may be, if you just want to read about the legal events and issues that appear in the popular press; for example, a new Supreme Court ruling on a hot topic or the latest hotly debated copyright legislation. But if you need more detail about the facts or the legal questions, or if you want current information about goings-on that don't appeal to the masses, then you require a source, or sources, with more of a legal focus.
FindLaw draws much of its content from newswire services like the Associated Press and Reuters. This means that the stories you'll find will cover the same type of legal news that you'd find in your local newspaper or at the Web sites of the New York Times, Washington Post, or even Google News.
The difference - what makes the site truly valuable - is that FindLaw supplements the news. FindLaw's Breaking Documents Newsletter and Featured Legal Documents archive give those interested in legal news something they don't get from the popular press - the actual documents discussed in the news.
Law.com, on the other hand, produced by American Lawyer Media (ALM), publishes original news stories in addition to those that appear on the wires. Long before the Web existed, ALM published legal news in newspapers and magazines like American Lawyer, National Law Journal, New York Law Journal and Legal Times. Legal professionals in the U.S. rely on it for local and national legal news. While many articles appear in full-text for free, some areas of the site, especially those devoted to certain legal topics, require a paid subscription.
While FindLaw and Law.com represent well-known sources for general legal news coverage, others exist. LexisONE, a great site for finding current case law, provides a headline news service. You have to register to use the site, but the news articles are free.
Law-related Weblogs, sometimes called blawgs, may also help you stay on top of certain legal issues or events. How Appealing by attorney Howard Bashman covers news about appellate litigation, or disputes, which take place in higher level courts. Tech Law Advisor discusses copyright, trademark, parody, fair use and technology law issues. LawMeme focuses on news about intellectual property law.
How can you find more blawgs? You might start with the section of The Virtual Chase's Legal Research Guide entitled RSS News Feeds for Law. RSS, or rich site summary, is simply a method for delivering current information. You will find both the blawg and RSS/XML addresses here.
The web is actually a good place to look for current legal information. But if you want more than what you would find in the popular press, you have to know where to look. While Law.com stands out as an excellent source of legal news, and one upon which legal professionals rely, it's not the only fish in the sea. FindLaw and LexisONE also cover general legal news. For coverage of particular legal topics, take a look at a few law-related Weblogs.Genie Tyburski is Web Manager of The Virtual Chase, a service of the law firm Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll.
NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.