You're in law school, right?
October 7, 2009 4:59 PM   Subscribe

You're in law school (or have recently graduated) - what online resources/websites do you use the most? Which are the most helpful in terms of research and studying?

I'm working on a project that will, hopefully, be of use to law students. Any thoughts or ideas would also be greatly appreciated. Feel free to MeFi/email me, if that's your style.
posted by 913 to Education (16 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
This is maybe too obvious, but Westlaw and Lexis.
posted by amro at 5:07 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'll tell you the blogs I read all the time related to the law:

Above The Law (***), Balkinization, Leiter's Law School Reports, Empirical Legal Studies, How Appealing (***), Jurisdynamics, Language Log, Law School Innovation, Legal Theory Blog (***), Mac Law Students, SCOTUSblog (***), 10b-5 Daily, Becker-Posner Blog, Legal Satyricon, Legal Workshop, Volokh Conspiracy (***), WSJ Law Blog (***), Chicago Law Faculty Blog

*** indicates particularly good
posted by JakeWalker at 5:12 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Bluebook is now available online (for a fee). Given that most law students now bring laptops to class, having the digital version can mean one less book to lug around.
posted by jedicus at 5:12 PM on October 7, 2009

I've barely started law school, but as for academic stuff, Westlaw and Lexis, mostly for homework rather than studying right now, but I like having Black's available online (I think it's on Westlaw).
posted by ishotjr at 5:15 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

In terms of studying and research. Westlaw and Lexis was about the only things I used. Everything else was just to waste time and entertain myself. The website I used the most besides westlaw/lexis was probably Amazon so I could buy copies of legalines.

Quick poll of my law school friends seems to back this up. I'm not sure what else people would use online besides westlaw and lexis. You're either reading your books or doing research for a writing assignment. So all anyone every used was their textbook or west/lexis.
posted by Arbac at 5:42 PM on October 7, 2009

Lexis Nexis public records assets search, Facebook, and Google Street View for answering those "where are they now" questions about parties in cases.
posted by Kirklander at 5:48 PM on October 7, 2009

Aside from Lexis and WestLaw for research-based classes, I used pretty much no online sources -- just casebooks and secondary books (study guides, hornbooks). Oh, and there was a website specific to my law school that had students' outlines from previous semesters, which would be very useful except for the fact that I don't like working from other people's outlines.

Cornell's LII is a great resource for primary sources, but I rarely used that since the same sources would already be in my basic course materials. (It'd be useful for students who wanted an electronic version of the FRCP for their civ pro class, for instance.)

I knew some students who liked to read the Wexis versions of the assigned cases. The summaries of the cases could be useful as an end-run around briefing. But actually reading the whole text of the opinions from Wexis isn't a great idea since (1) the casebook will save you time by omitting parts of the opinion with low educational value and (2) it can lead to awkward situations if the prof is using the Socratic method on the assumption that everyone has read the case in a very specific form, then you get called on and have read it in a different form.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:41 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I prefer LexisNexis to Westlaw for subjective reasons. For academic research, I use sources like JSTOR & Heinonline. In addition to blogs listed by JakeWalker, I like Feminist Law Profs as well. Various websites (private or run by schools) also provide podcasts, although these vary in quality. For research or easy explanations, I use Wikipedia but I always double check sources and follow the leads it provides.
posted by motsque at 7:07 PM on October 7, 2009

I really hate the online bluebook, even though I tried to like it, but that's just me.

I think that once you've began to figure out what legal area you're interested in, it's useful to find blogs/news in those fields. SCOTUS Blog is great, as mentioned above. If you're interested in patent law, patently-o is great.

Basically, just get into the habit of following the news in your field, even if you don't understand it all at first.
posted by mercredi at 7:29 PM on October 7, 2009

LII has statutes, codes, and rules online, for reading and cutting and pasting. You can subscribe to their email service which sends the syllabi for SCt. decisions as they are released.
I read overlawyered and The Volokh Conspiracy almost every day.
For generalized time wasting, there are Greedy Associates boards (at infirmation), Above the Law, and Law Shucks.
posted by mr_felix_t_cat at 9:11 PM on October 7, 2009

While in law school - either Westlaw or Lexis mostly depending on which you're initially exposed to. Learn to do a terms and connectors search proficiently (figure out those connectors in other words) and you'll have a swiss army knife of research abilities that should get you the answers in nearly every case.

Most used:
Upon graduation - either Westlaw or Lexis entirely depending on which your employer provides a subscription to.

Criminal law - California Public Defenders Association (CPDA) site but more so their newsletters and email discussions. Week in review is particularly handy, literally a must read in many offices (Al Menaster is heroic). CEB onlaw is also a great resource especially when it includes full access (and links) to forms

Boalt's excellent librarians and the Advanced Legal Research professors have created many subject specific research guides. They also have a library site focused on online research listing many online sources/sites.

Also a plug for local court websites which have necessary local rules, policies and more. More commonly used by locals than by those passing through though the need for their contents is uniformly reversed.
posted by unclezeb at 11:08 PM on October 7, 2009

I study in Australia. If I need a quick refresher on a specific case or principle, and it is a reasonably recent & significant one, I just google it and read the first few results that come up. These results often are 3-4 page summaries that firms' websites include in their 'articles' section. Is this 'scholarly'? No. Does it refresh my memory really well? Yes.

For proper research I'll go to Halsbury's Laws or use LexisNexis.
posted by kid A at 1:49 AM on October 8, 2009

Lots of people have mentioned WL and Lexis, but it's worth repeating: get really good at running searches and understanding how WL and Lexis work. Take seminars on cost-effective researching, because you don't want to be that kid at the firm that racks up a $10k WL bill on a 3 hour assignment. It's easy to do.

Also, though the online resources are handy, don't be afraid to look at hardbound books, especially when it comes to secondary sources and the bluebook. It can often be a lot easier to look up a general topic in a hardbound volume and stumble onto the specific topic you want instead of trying to craft search terms for it, especially if you're not familiar with the topic.

I always use my hardcopy bluebook, and I have it heavily tabbed for the sections that I use the most often. I rarely, if ever, use Black's.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:58 AM on October 8, 2009

Cite Genie is a handy Firefox add-on, though it doesn't help with local rules (Texas Greenbook, for example). I use it mostly for double checking for dumb mistakes, like a missing period.

Also, somewhat off topic- buying books from Amazon rather than the school bookstore saves me about $250 a quarter.
posted by andlee210 at 3:46 PM on October 8, 2009

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