Legal Resources on the Web

My Favorite Web Sites - Winchester Star - 12/6/01
 by Martin Zombeck

This is a bi-weekly column providing an annotated list of Web sites that may be of interest to the community. Each column will list sites that belong to a particular category: search engines, art, online newspapers and magazines, health and medicine, history, business and economics, etc. or sites relevant to a particular season, for example, skiing or gardening. Most sites will be non-commercial. To make it easier to access the sites, each bi-weekly column will be posted on the Town of Winchester's Web site so that the sites can be accessed and bookmarked without having to be typed. Previous columns will be archived at the Winchester site, also.


"A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer"- Robert Frost.

First a statement to get me off the hook and prevent lawsuits. Caveat lector! The information provided here and in the listed Web sites are not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Legal advice of any nature should be sought from competent, independent, legal counsel. Remember the adage: A person who represents himself has a fool for a client and a fool for a lawyer. The sites presented below are meant to provide you with background information for a legal problem that you may have, improve your general knowledge of the law, and provide a little fun (at the expense of the legal profession, of course). Everyone, at some time, requires the services of the legal profession. Hopefully, perusing the sites below will make you a "smart buyer".

Confused by the Latin terms, habeas corpus, nolo contendere, and caveat emptor? Try one of the on-line dictionaries to find their legal usage. Don't remember any of the text of the Magna Carta, the first "bill of rights" and the basis for English common law? The complete text translated from the Latin) is available on the Web. The complete text of the U.S. Constitution is also available on-line. Need to find a lawyer? Use an on-line lawyer locator. When I searched for lawyers listed in Winchester, the site below came up with 70 names`! Need a sample contract, tax, or bill of sale form? These and many more legal forms can be found on-line.

You and Your Lawyer
www.nysba.org/public/pamphlets/you.html
This is an on-line copy of a pamphlet provided by the New York State Bar Association. I could not find a similar on-line pamphlet by the Massachusetts Bar Association. Although it is based on New York law, it is general enough to guide a layman about how to decide when a lawyer is required, the basis for legal fees, how to work with your lawyer, client's rights, and other general issues. The pamphlet ends with the following statement: "This pamphlet, which is based on New York law, is intended to inform, not to advise. No one should attempt to interpret or apply any law without the aid of an attorney." You will have to decide if this latter sentence is self-serving.

Legal Dictionaries and Encyclopedias
www.library.unt.edu/govinfo/law/dictionaries.htm
General law, United States law, state law, foreign and international law, guide to legal abbreviations, style manuals and citation guides, and much more. This site is maintained by University of North Texas, Federal Depository Library.

Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Locator
www.martindale.com/xp/Martindale/home.xml
Use this locator to find a lawyer by name or search by location/area of practice, by firm, or for lawyers in corporations, agencies of the US government, or law school faculty. Brief rating information is supplied, bar admission date, and Web site, if available.

Guide to Law Online
www.loc.gov/law/guide/index.html
"The Guide to Law Online, prepared by the U.S. Law Library of Congress Public Services Division, is an annotated guide to sources of information on government and law available online. It includes selected links to useful and reliable sites for legal information."

FindLaw
www.findlaw.com
Basically a law portal, with hundreds of links.

Nolo - Law for All
www.nolo.com
Quoted from the N.Y. Times - "In the vanguard of the do-it-yourself law movement." Don't say I didn't warn you - "A person who represents himself ."

The Largest 250 Law Firms in the U.S
www.ilrg.com/nlj250
The largest 250 law firms in the US linked to their respective Web sites. Where the firm has no web site, the site provides a link to the Martindale-Hubbell listing.

Internet Legal Resource Guide
www.ilrg.com
Purported to be designed for everyone, lay persons and legal scholars alike, this site is a categorized index of more than 4000 select international and U.S. Web sites, as well as almost a thousand locally stored web pages and downloadable files relating to the law.

Massachusetts Public Safety/Justice
www.state.ma.us/saf.htm
Official state site - emergency services, law enforcement, justice, corrections.

Cornell Law School
www.law.cornell.edu
The Web site of Cornell University's Legal Information Institute. Especially useful for Federal Supreme Court and District Court decisions, but also contains a multitude of legal documents and legal topics to numerous to mention here.

Harvard Law School Library
www.law.harvard.edu/library
Provides many free legal resources. You can access the LexisNexis database for a fee (using your credit card).

U.S. Supreme Court Multimedia Database
oyez.nwu.edu
The Oyez Project of Northwestern University. You can hear the legal arguments of Bush vs Gore at this site. You'll need a high speed internet connection, however.

U.S. Courts
www.uscourts.gov
The official Web site of the Federal Judiciary. You will find general information on federal courts, with links to individual court sites provided. Did you recently hear National Public Radio's Legal Affairs Correspondent, Nina Totenberg, discuss the recent Supreme Court affirmative action case of Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Mineta? You can read the complete decision here.

American Bar Association
www.abanet.org
The official Web site of the ABA.

Massachusetts Bar Association
www.massbar.org
The official Web site of the MBA.

The Magna Carta
www.bl.uk/diglib/magna-carta/overview.html
From the British Library Web site, the complete text of the Magna Carta (1215). Clause 39 - "No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land". Sound familiar? Read the text of the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments of the U.S. Constitution, in the site below.

U.S. Constitution
www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.overview.html
The complete text of the Constitution of the United States of America.

Overlawyered.com
www.overlawyered.com
Chronicles the high cost of our litigious society. From the site: "Overlawyered.com explores an American legal system that too often turns litigation into a weapon against guilty and innocent alike, erodes individual responsibility, rewards sharp practice, enriches its participants at the public's expense, and resists even modest efforts at reform and accountability".

Lawyer Joke Emporium
www.nolo.com/humor/jokes
From the site - "Rumor has it that B.L. (Before Lawyers, of course), the world was an altogether more pleasant place -- one where peace and tranquility reigned and argumentative people were consigned to caves in the exurbs". This site contains many "lawyer" jokes and some quite famous aphorisms, all arranged by category. Did you know that Ben Franklin said: "A country man between two lawyers is like a fish between two cats"?

When he is not updating the Town of Winchester Web site (www.winchestermass.org), Martin Zombeck can be found at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where he is a physicist. E-mail: mvz@mediaone.net.

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