Book Review: Law Law Law on the Internet: The Best Legal Web Sites and More: By Erik J. Heels and Richard P. Klau

‘Law Law Law’ book debuts at the ABA’s TechShow in Chicago.

From the publisher (http://www.abanet.org/lpm/catalog/511-0400.html):

Law Law Law on the Internet:
The Best Legal Web Sites and More
by Erik J. Heels and Richard P. Klau

1998 7 x 10 325 pages paper
ISBN: 1-57073-553-0
Product code: 511-0400
LPM price: $34.95

If you’re spending too much time navigating the Net, you’ll appreciate this thorough, hands-on guide to finding the most appropriate Web sites for your research. Written especially for legal professionals, authors Erik Heels and Richard Klau present the most important, reliable and influential law-related Web sites in a quick and easy-to-read format.

Organized in 8 chapters, this book begins with the basics, such as the history of the Net, why you need to ‘get connected’ and elements of a successful Web site. The remainder of the book lists the ‘best of the best’ Web sites divided into categories including National and State Bar Associations, Federal Law, Bar Associations, Law Firms, Law Schools, Journals, and State Law. Each chapter contains an overview, list of best Meta Sites, detailed review of individual Web sites, list of practice areas for each firm, and glossary. Plus, you’ll get the National Law Journal’s top 250 law firm Web sites!

Whether a novice or net.veteran, you’ll learn how to maximize your online experience and appreciate the author’s candid and valuable reviews to some of the most popular law sites on the Web. It’s an excellent reference tool for consumers and publishers of information as you will soon realize what works and what does not!

From the book’s foreward:

In October of 1995, only 40% of the National Law Journal 250[1] law firms had registered domain names, and only 10%[2] of the NLJ 250 firms had Web sites. A little more than two years later, the prediction that "it will soon be the rule, rather than the exception, that a law-related organization is on the Internet" has come true.[3] Today all but one of the NLJ 250 firms has registered a domain name, and 60% have Web sites.

Why is this important? Because it means that the Internet is finally ready for prime time! And it means that there is no reasonable way to include all of the law-related organizations on the Net in this book. So what’s a perfectionist to do? The only rational choice is to make editorial decisions about who gets included in this book and who does not. So while earlier efforts focused on cataloging all of the law-related resources into one book, this book focused on cataloging the best of all the law-related resources.

For example, in the companies chapter, we include major vendors, focusing on those that publish something of substance – preferably for free – on the Internet.[4] We also included smaller companies who are, for one reason or another, making a difference on the Internet. Companies whose content focus is limited to a particular state are briefly mentioned in the reviews of each particular state. In the law firm chapter, we’ve included NLJ 250 law firms as well as small law firms that have made great strides in Internet publishing. We’re open to suggestions about how to improve future editions of this book.

Our goal was to create a reference book that would help novices and net.veterans get the most out of their Internet experiences. For example, a new Internet user looking for tax law resources would get a very good feel for the best of the Internet tax-related resources by looking in the index of this book under "tax" for organizations whose practice areas include tax. Similarly, net.veterans looking to maximize their online experience – both as consumers and publishers of information – would enjoy our spirited reviews of all of the NLJ 250 law firm Web sites to see what is working and what is not.

Much has changed over the last two years. BBSs, Gopher, WAIS, and even Usenet are dead or dying. E-mail is becoming a more popular way to get the word out, and e-mail users are struggling with how to filter out the unwanted e-mail from the mix. And the jury is still out on technologies such as PointCast, which delivers multimedia to users’ desktops, but not by e-mail.[5] On the horizon are new developments like Internet-based telephone and fax service, unified messaging, and video.

We have also seen consolidation in the Internet marketspace and the legal Internet marketspace. WorldCom has purchased UUNet and MCI, and Microsoft has purchased everything but the Justice Department. In the legal market, Counsel Connect was sold, bought, and consolidated with its former competitor the New York Law Publishing Company (of Law Journal EXTRA! fame). Reed and Thomson continue to grow their two huge empires.

In the final analysis, we’re hoping that the information overload that is the Internet will still require somebody to weed through the millions of Web sites (and other Internet resources) to find the most important, most reliable, and most influential ones. And who better to help than the American Bar Association, whose mission in life is member services. We’re pleased to be able to play a small part in shaping the legal Internet community, and we hope to be able to continue to do so for years to come.

Thanks for reading!

[1] The National Law Journal 250 (NLJ 250) is an annual survey conducted by the New York Law Publishing Company. This is the 20th anniversary of the NLJ 250 survey, which is the legal community’s equivalent of the Fortune 1000.

[2] According to The Legal List, Law-Related Resources on the Internet and Elsewhere, seventh edition, October 1995, Lawyers Cooperative Publishing, by Erik J. Heels.

[3] Id. or ibid., we’re not sure; or perhaps ego. The key to being a successful visionary is to make lots and lots of predictions in print and then reference only those that came true.

[4] Trust us, if you build it, they will come. Content is still king. And presentation is queen, experience – kind of like a knight. OK, so we’re reaching here. Chess enthusiasts will appreciate the analogy. More on content, presentation, and experience in the section entitled "Three Elements of a Successful Web Site."

[5] And you never ever know what juries will do. Check out Matthew Bender’s review to see what they’re doing with PointCast.

“Law, Law, Law on the Internet: The Best Legal Web Sites and More” by Erik J. Heels and Richard P. Klau.

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