Attorney Web Usage Climbs

Article excerpt

What the internal combustion engine did for transportation, the Internet has done for legal research. It is a catalyst for permanent, revolutionary changes in the way attorneys practice law.

Attorneys' usage of the Net has grown by leaps and bounds. A recent poll conducted by The Internet Lawyer and Microsoft shows that 72 percent of legal professionals personally access the Internet. About 53 percent of those legal professionals do legal research on the Internet.

That's a lot of lawyers who, during the past three years since the introduction of Web browsers in 1994, have used the Internet to make substantive changes in the way they practice law. Why have so many lawyers willingly changed the way they practice law? The answer is simple, few other fields of endeavor have the law's voracious appetite for the Internet's primary asset -- information. When an attorney arrives on the Net, the first question is, "Where do I start?" Legal research on the Internet can be easily launched from a variety of different Web sites. These include legal specific Web sites along with some of the non-legal Web sites. While new sites are added daily, there are a few sites in the current lineup that provide notable examples of legal research tools. DOGPILE (http://www.dogpile.com) is a site overlooked by most legal researchers. My personal experience has proven Dogpile to be a great place to start legal research. At the command, Fetch, Dogpile runs a single query such as Legal + Law + Bankruptcy simultaneously through a minimum of 15 different search engines. Within seconds, Dogpile's multiple search engines retrieve links to and information about Web sites with terms matching those in the query. From there it's just "click and go" to arrive at a multitude of legal Web sites providing the top Internet legal research tools and almost unimaginable amounts of information for the legal researcher. Internet legal research is being greatly improved by the efforts of people at law schools and government agencies around the world. These people are professionals who are carefully monitoring the Web's development as a legitimate source for legal research. Pursuing this worthy goal, these dedicated people examine and organize sites of legal interest on easy-to-use menus. Some of these sites deserve particular mention as they provide outstanding central starting points for legal research. Oklahoma Supreme Court Network (http://www.oscn.state.ok.us/start1.htm) is a mandatory site for all Oklahoma attorneys. Posted earlier this year, OSCN is a model for emulation by other state court systems. This excellent site contains links to the Oklahoma Appellate Courts along with e-mail addresses for each of the justices and other appellate court staff including the Court Clerk. …