A Practical Internet Article (for lawyers)

Even though some large firms may be experiencing temporary difficulty in
the current legal economy, their “knowledge managers”, law librarians,
and internet technology staffs are still in place, albeit, with fewer bodies
and reduced spending.

If you are your own “knowledge manager” or internet technology staff,
what can you do to cope? Can a sole practitioner or small firm manage to
survive or even level the playing field by judicious use of the internet,
emphasizing free or low-cost legal resources that are only a “click” away?
My answer is an emphatic “YES”! What follows are a few such resources;
i.e., stones for the legal David’s slingshot in the never-ending
confrontation with Goliath:


NYSBA's new Professional Liability Insurance carrier is Zurich Insurance
(“Zurich”). When your coverage is switched over to Zurich, you receive
an additional benefit. If you hold a current policy with Zurich, you are
entitled to free access to the VersusLaw website and their Premium Plan,
which contains decisions and opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S.
Circuit Courts of Appeals, State Appellate Courts and selected Federal
District Courts in the 50 states. You also have access to various state
statutes and regulations.

The Premium Plan also provides “V.Cite” - a citation search tool and
Advance Links, a weekly email newsletter with updated links to current
caselaw on selected legal topics.

Proceed to Zurich’s website. Scroll down to the "Special Groups" section
and click on "Zurich North America"; this brings you to the Zurich Insured
Attorneys page; Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the
appropriate option - either “New Account Registration” or Current
Subscribers Login. If you are a “New Account:, you will need your policy
number for your initial registration.

If you have any questions or problems, contact VERSUSLAW Customer

Service: mailto:service@versuslaw.comor call toll free 888-377-8752 (88-
VERSUSLAW), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5p.m., Pacific Time.

While there is no annotation of these materials, they are searchable,
provide full text, and the price is right. The link for the free Versuslaw
research service for Zurich policy holders is:



Most lawyers using the internet have discovered FIindLaw; but few of us
have had the patience to read the fine print of the multiple links on the
tiny print FindLaw homepage. Doing so can be rewarding, if you note the
link to “Newsletters and Case Summaries”, which leads to the Findlaw
Newsletter Subscription Center.

Enter your e-mail address and click the box next to each newsletter you
would like to receive. Daily opinion summaries are available from each of
the Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal, including the Second Circuit. New
York Court of Appeals opinions can also arrive in your email each day the
Court is in session. California, Texas, Delaware, Florida, and Illinois top
court opinions are available, along with intermediate level decisions from
California and Texas. Read the summary of the opinion. If an opinion
interests you, click on the included link for the full text, copy and paste it
into your word processor or download the full text for later reference.

You may also subscribe to weekly compilations of opinion summaries by
subject matter. FindLaw will email you the most current cases on eighteen
(18) topics, from “bankruptcy” to “taxes”.

There are also general topic newsletters. My personal favorite is “Breaking
Legal Documents”, which sends me summaries of pleadings and other
documents in newsworthy cases. The pleadings are particularly interesting
as many of the cases are New York based; e.g., the complaint in the Fox
News trademark infringement action against satirist Al Franken was
worth a chuckle (Fox News v. Penguin Group and Al Franken) (Aug. 7,


The pleadings in high profile personal injury cases, such as Rhode Island
Nightclub (The Station) Fire, may serve as models for your own “forms
file” (Roderiques v. Town of West Warwick) (Mar. 4, 2003);


Even if you do not practice intellectual property law, reading about Harry
Potter’s author taking on the NY Daily News can make you feel less like a
“Muggle” (J.K. Rowling and Scholastic v. NY Daily News) (June 18, 2003)


The sole practitioner or small firm may not be able to afford our own
marketing or office management consultants; but the free monthly
“Lawyer Marketing News” and the weekly “Practice Paper” can provide
valuable tips, tools, and solutions for free.



Large firms have “form files”, now compiled in databases. Solos or small
firms may depend upon colleagues and adversaries for legal forms.
Pleading and practice form book sets are often multi-volume, expensive,
and irrelevant. The LosAngles County Bar Association has recently rolled
out its Legal Forms Center. This site allows you to search thirty (30)
practice areas, from “Alternative Dispute Resolution” to “Workers
Compensation” in each of the 50 states.

Select “Family Law” for New York and you will be presented with 373
links arrayed in alphabetical order, each link to a form, which can be
downloaded. Many of the forms are official forms from various courts.
Most forms are in Portable Document Format (“pdf”). Some are in text
format (“txt”).

The site is powered by a search engine provided by LawInfo.com., which
results in a significant time advantage over a general purpose search
engine. All of the found forms are arranged in alphabetical order on one

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