USA legal news sources

Since many of the legal issues of today were already active, yesterday, in the USA, it is often worth keeping up to date with USA legal news sources. Here are some of the key ones.

Law.com is an extensive source of legal news (and nice pictures). This site, part of the ALM Group (American Lawyer Media) has now “gathered up” a number of previously independent legal web sites and businesses. The site covers national and regional news by practice area. Other sites in the group cover legal jobs, legal training, directories of attorneys and various legal data bases.

FindLaw’s Legal News provides a wide range of current legal news stories, grouped by major heading, eg US Supreme Court, Business, Civil Rights, Crime, and so on. FindLaw started in 1996 when two attorneys compiled a list of Internet resources for a group of law librarians in northern California. FindLaw is now owned by Thomson Reuters.

JURIST is a web-based legal news and real-time legal research service powered by a mostly-volunteer team of over 60 part-time law student reporters, editors and web developers at the University of Pittsburgh. They track important legal news stories and materials and aim to cover stories based on their substantive importance rather than on their mass-market or commercial appeal.

LLRX (Law Library Resource Xchange) is a free, independent, Web journal providing information on a wide range of Internet research and technology-related issues, applications, resources and tools. LLRX is in its 18th year of continuous publication, with a diverse, professional, highly engaged and expert global readership.

NewsLinx provides “Information Technology headlines from around the web” (not specifically legal ones). This site provides everything you could want (and more).

bizjournals provides business news “from around the country” linked with many local news sources.

Institutions and resources

The United States House of Representatives provides a major source of information on many topics, including:

  • The schedule of bills, resolutions, and other legislative issues before the House
  • The Library of Congress with Information about the US Congress legislative process, bills, the Congressional Record, committee information, and historical documents
  • Information on committee meetings.
  • Contacts – Constituents may identify and/or contact their elected Member
  • Access to the basic documents of US law. Full text searchable copies of the US Code (a consolidation and codification by subject matter of the general and permanent laws of the US).

Many of the House proceedings can now be watched online.

The United States Senate provides web pages for all senators and email addresses and also information on the various functions and committees of the Senate. There is information about the legislative process and about the current state of Bills.

The White House provides information speeches and plans for legislation relating to the president. There is also a history of past presidents and of the White House itself and of the American system of Government.

US Department of Justice sets out its aims as “To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.” There are links to government departments and agencies relating to legal matters as well as press release and reports relating to issues of current interest.

The Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress. The Law Library is the world’s largest law library, with a collection of over three million volumes spanning the ages and covering virtually every jurisdiction in the world. The Library’s mission is to support the Congress in fulfilling its constitutional duties and to further the progress of knowledge and creativity for the benefit of the American people. The site is designed both for lawyers and for members of the public. As well as serious legal material, it has several unique public-oriented features including “American Memory” Exhibits, a searching engine called Thomas (after Jefferson) and current and changing events and exhibits. In the section for finding legal resources in a global context) there are various resources including:

  • Global Legal Information Network (GLIN) a database of laws, regulations, judicial decisions and related legal sources from around the globe. Documents are submitted in their original language with English summaries available. However, the GLIN network is “undergoing a transition” and is not available at the moment.
  • The Guide to Law Online provides a vast network of links to content-based Web sites of primary and secondary legal and legislative information services from 193 nations and all US federal, state and territorial government entities.
  • The Multinational Reference lists items which reprint the laws and regulations of international jurisdictions on a particular legal topic, comparative in nature.

FirstGov is the US Government’s “portal” to all the other government and “official” sites in the USA, both Federal and local. It is aimed at the citizen and tries to make sense of the many sources of information available, grouping them by topic. It also provides links to the sites covering “public safety and law” including Courts and Legislatures, Federal and state laws, courts, legislatures, Crime, Prisons and lots more.

Google Scholar “provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research.” (Choose “Case Law”). A search here opens up access to full text legal opinions from US federal and state district, appellate and supreme courts and (via a “Cited By” feature) links to other cases and articles on Google Scholar that cite them. Though court opinions in the US are not protected by copyright, they were hitherto only readily available for comprehensive searching via subscription services such as Lexis and Westlaw. You can also use Google Scholar / Legal Opinions to follow up citations of judgments that are not themselves indexed in full text, including those from other jurisdictions.

Internet Library of Law and Court Decisions authored by Martin H. Samson, features extensive summaries of over 600 court decisions shaping the law of the web; providing facts, analysis and pertinent quotes from cases of interest to those who do business on the Internet and in New Media.

American Law Sources Online is a useful new source of law for the USA, Canada and Mexico. There are sections offering federal, state or province law sources, as well as commentaries and practice aids.

The Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School aims to ensure that the law remains free and open to everyone, which includes supporting global expansion of the free access to law movement, serving government, empowering citizens, serving the legal profession, and developing web science for the law. They offer the Institute’s collection of recent and historic Supreme Court decisions, its hypertext versions of the full US Code, US Constitution, Federal Rules of Evidence and Civil Procedure, recent opinions of the New York Court of Appeals and other federal, state, and international material.

The Internet Legal Resource Guide, based at the University of Texas, is a categorized index of more than 4000 select web sites in 238 nations, islands, and territories, as well as thousands of locally stored web pages, legal forms, and downloadable files. The site includes lists of Law Related Newsgroups and Law Firms and Lawyers. Both of these are USA based of course.

There are further USA resources described on my site at www.venables.co.uk/USA.htm.

Delia Venables is joint editor of this Newsletter.

Email delia@venables.co.uk. Twitter @deliavenables.

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