In the May/June Newsletter I considered some of the best websites for lawyers of general applicability. Here, I am covering resources focused upon specific practice areas.

Criminal law

It would be impossible to write any review of the legal web for criminal lawyers without referring to the truly excellent CrimeLine. Frankly if criminal lawyers had no other resource online, then they would probably cope pretty well with just this one website. Set up by the very knowledgeable Andrew Keogh, CrimeLine combines a huge database of relevant case law, with a brilliant, and free, updating service, which sends you emails a few times a week with relevant updates for criminal law professionals (the CrimeLine Updater). If you are on Twitter, then it is also worth following Andrew @CrimeLineLaw for interesting tweets, and he often answers tricky technical costs and case law questions promptly and knowledgeably. He has also been heavily involved in co-ordinating responses to the government’s recent “Transforming Legal Aid” consultation, and details can be found in the News section of the website, together with a large number of collated responses.

If you are looking for practical guidance from a practitioner’s angle, then the websites for the professional organisations for criminal barristers and solicitors come to the fore. If you are a member of the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association, their website has a valuable members-only section, including an e-alert updating service. Even non-members can access some great features, including a number of excellent guidance publications (the “Guide for Appropriate Adults” is particularly noteworthy) and a useful online video guide called “Going to Court – a step by step guide to being a witness”, which has been developed in conjunction with a variety of criminal justice organisations. This is ideal for defence solicitors to give to witnesses due to give evidence at court to help them prepare for their experience. The CLSA has been very involved in responding to the government’s consultation about Price Competitive Tendering for Criminal Defence work, and has a detailed section on their website covering this, with briefing notes, advice and other resources. They have a Twitter account via @CrimeSolicitors.

Similarly the Criminal Bar Association website is primarily a members-only website, with a range of resources available to its members who can login to the site. Members gain access to the very informative Criminal Bar Quarterly newsletter, as well as CBA Papers on a wide variety of topics and weekly round-up email updates. The newsletter, written by experienced counsel, includes commentaries on current issues facing the criminal bar (of which there are many) and discussion of relevant case law and legislation. Non-members can still view the “Monday Message” blog on the website, which has been full of information about the CBA’s response to the government’s consultation on “Transforming Legal Aid”. Of particular note for non-members is the excellent and freely-available video “A question of practice”, designed for practitioners and providing advice on questioning young and/or vulnerable witnesses and defendants. You can follow their very active account on Twitter via @TheCriminalBar.

Finally for criminal practitioners a relatively new arrival on the scene is the UK Criminal Law Bloguk. Set up in 2012 by 3 barristers and modelled on the excellent and hugely successful UK Human Rights Blog, the website aims to demystify the criminal law for the public, discuss and comment upon current legal issues and promote more accurate reporting of the criminal law. The blog is full of good articles on highly topical issues, by the editors and guest bloggers. There are sections explaining relevant areas of criminal law, procedure and sentencing for the lay person, and a useful case law update section. Follow them on Twitter @ukcrimeblog, enter your email for free updates and notification of new posts, or add them to your RSS feeds.

Family law

Whilst family practitioners are undoubtedly already aware of Jordan’s Family Law Online and the journal Family Law, it is worth visiting the Jordans Family Law website to take a look at a free service which they offer called Family Law Newswatch. Newswatch incorporates abstracts of articles, cases, legislation, practice guidance and news stories from the current Family Law Journal. The opinion blogs are always worth a read, with brief but pertinent commentaries. This website was significantly updated a couple of years ago and is very user friendly, and has the added benefit of an email alerter. Click on Receive Updates and enter your details to receive automatic email alerts of new Family Law news stories. You can also sign up for their RSS feeds to get the information as soon as it appears on the website, follow them on Twitter @JordansFamLaw or join their LinkedIn Group.

Family Law Week provides free access to family law news, judgments, legislative changes and commentaries and articles from professionals on topics of interest to all family practitioners. The website carries a monthly update in which all of that month’s updates are collated in pdf format; meanwhile you can sign up for a free weekly email update on the website, which includes the monthly update. Effectively the website is a free one-stop shop to help family lawyers keep abreast of updates in their specialist area. They are also on Twitter via @familylawweek.

Property law

Many barristers’ Chambers offer considerable online resources via their websites, as a way of advertising their expertise and displaying their knowledge. An excellent example is the website for New Square Chambers which has an extensive database of articles and publications, which are kept very up to date, and available to download as PDFs. They have a large selection of property, trusts and estates, chancery and other specialist area articles for you to view.

Hardwicke Chambers showcase their property skills on the Insights section of their website. Of particular interest is their free Property Newsletter which you can view online or you can subscribe to their mailing list to receive it via email if you prefer. You can also view articles and case reports from a large database on their website. This is a straightforward, easy to use website, full of useful property law information. Follow them on Twitter @hardwickelaw.

Housing lawyers are well-served by excellent blogs and resources which have current, regularly updated and most importantly relevant content. The excellent website Nearly Legal is maintained by a group of expert barristers and solicitors focusing upon housing and landlord and tenant matters. The blog forms part of the Guardian Legal Network. As well as topical commentary and discussion, they have a large archive of material including case reports, some great links to other resources, and you can access their housing news feed which contains publicly available material from other websites. @NearlyLegal on Twitter is another excellent source of information (aka Giles Peaker, a solicitor and editor of the Nearly Legal blog).

Similarly in this area, Garden Court Chambers provide a weekly free email Housing Law Bulletin. Their website contains a selection of relevant legal resources including legislation, cases, and other research materials. You can also read monthly updates entitled, “Recent Developments in Housing Law” which appear in the Legal Action Magazine (always available a month in arrears, to get the most recent update you would need to subscribe to the magazine). Follow them on Twitter via @GardenCourtLaw.

Civil law

By necessity a civil law discussion is going to be disjointed as it encompasses so many different practice areas. Here are just a few websites which will be relevant to particular civil practitioners.

In addition to their housing law resources Garden Court Chambers also have an excellent Civil Legal Resources section to their website, with access to legislation, research materials and their notable cases. They also provide free Employment and Immigration email Bulletins.

The truly excellent UK Human Rights Blog (also on Twitter via @UKHumanRightsB) from 1 Crown Office Row has just celebrated its 3rd birthday and goes from strength to strength. Written by eminent lawyers in the field, and covering the most topical issues in the Courts and the news, it is a must read blog for anyone working in this area, and worthy of a bookmark for those that retain even a passing interest in this fast-paced area of law. Combine that with the online Human Rights and Public Law Update resource, (@1CrownOfficeRow) which contains 1000 reports, articles and commentaries, as well as an email alerter service, and you have a wealth of human rights information at your fingertips.

Littleton Chambers maintains the Employment Cases Update website, offering free access to a consolidated index of UK employment cases; started in 2010, with fully searchable text of key judgments from the Employment Appeal Tribunal to the Supreme Court, the website provides what the editors accurately describe as an “unrivalled research tool” for anyone involved in employment litigation. They also collate monthly case law round-ups (available in the Resources section of their website) which are worth reading to keep abreast of changes in this specialist practice area. You can also sign up for their weekly updating newsletter by email.

And finally, if you find yourself travelling around to different courts, you are probably increasingly using your mobile phone or tablet as a vital resource. Legal Training’s Court Search app provides you with full address and contact details for every court in England and Wales together with maps and navigation tools to help you to get to court. In addition it combines the online services from HMCTS to provide you with live progress updates for the lists in every Crown Court, and daily court lists for the High Court and above. New features for 2013 include car parking information near to the courts, and tribunal details (iPad/iPhone only).

Amanda Millmore is a non-practising barrister and founder of CPD provider Legal Training. The material in this article is expanded upon in a number of accredited CPD courses available on the Legal Training website, in the “Practitioner’s Guide to the Internet” series.


Follow her on Twitter @LegalTrainingUK.

Legal Training is an established CPD provider offering online, flexible, accredited CPD training for barristers, solicitors, chartered legal executives and licensed conveyancers. Courses cover Family Law, Criminal Law, Property Law, Civil Law and IT skills as well as topics of general interest to legal professionals.

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