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January 31, 2005

A9 Adds Photos to Yellow Pages

Search engine A9 has added thumbnail photos taken from the street to their online yellow pages. Currently, only businesses in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Chicago, New York City (Manhattan), Denver, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland & San Francisco are included, but other cities will be added. Wonder when they will get to Wisconsin?

How did they do it? According to their Web site:

A9.com developed new technology to very efficiently capture photographs of businesses using trucks equipped with digital cameras, global positioning system (GPS) receivers, and proprietary software and hardware. Because the data is not yet 100% precise, not all images exactly show the business. You can virtually "walk up and down the street" by using either the left and right arrows above the images or the double arrows on the right and left sides of the image "strips" below.

Source: TVC Alert

DCLRC Updates Web Site

The Dane County Legal Resource Center has recently redesigned their Web site. Note that the URL is new also.

According to the February edition of the DCLRC Docket, there are more new pages to come, including publications and forms, as well as information about DCLRC’s collection and services.

And if you haven't done so already, check out the DCLRC Blawg.

LFB Informational Papers

This month, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau's published a series of informational papers which are now available on their web site. There are 90 papers all dated January 2005.

The papers are organized into the following categories:


January 26, 2005

Google Launches Video Search

Google recently announced that they are beta testing a new video search engine. Funny thing is - there's no video. It is actually is more of a tv listing search engine which contains still images and some closed caption text from recent tv programs. But useful, nonetheless.

Perhaps you remember seeing a story on a news program such as Dateline or 60 Minutes but can't remember the specifics. A search on Google Video by keyword might turn it up for you. Listings include the name of the show and episode, channel and date it aired.

Because it is in beta testing, only a limited number of channels are available. But Google does plan to expand in time.

There are a couple of specialized searches available according to the Google Video help page.
To search by show title, type 'title:' in front of the program name when you do a search. For example, title:nightline or add a keyword title:nightline music.

To search for a particular channel, type "channel:" or "station:" in front of the channel name when you do a search (make sure to use the station's common name). For example, channel:abc president bush restricts your search to ABC.

Westlaw's Smart Tools Offers Search Suggestions

Westlaw has added a new feature called Smart Tools which offers suggestions for misspelled or incomplete searches.

According to Westlaw, "Smart Tools offer you alternatives for terms that appear out of context even though spelled correctly (statute of limitations for statue of limitations). They flag misspelled words and acronyms (HIPAA for HIPPA). And Smart Tools suggest related terms of art such as "frustration of purpose" for "impossibility of performance." "

If you are into quirky flash demos, check out this one.

January 25, 2005

Justia.com Offers Free Web Sites for Lawyers

Justia.com, a web design company specializing in law firms, is offering free simple web sites for lawyers and law firms. The basic template design features:

  • Firm Home Page
  • Firm Profile Page
  • Firm Location Page
  • Practice Area Profiles
  • Attorney Profiles
  • Web Resources Page
  • Legal Articles Section
  • W3C Web standards design & layout
  • U.S. 508 and W3C's Web Accessibility Guidelines

There is a list of links to firms that have created free sites with Justia.com.

Source: beSpacific

Track Federal Legislation with GovTrack.us

GovTrack.us is a new, useful, and free federal legislation tracking tool. Users can choose to track legislation by legislator name, bill number, and subject. Results are available for delivery via email or RSS.

Full text searching is available for bills and debate (via the Congressional Record). Legislator voting records and campaign contribution data is also included.

Source: beSpacific

January 24, 2005

ND State Senators Blogging

A group of senators from North Dakota - both republican and democrat - have started ND Legislative Blog. Very interesting. In addition to covering official legislative affairs, these senators are expressing opinions and sharing details about their personal lives.

Here are some excerpts from an AP News story:

The five senators began blogging when The Bismarck Tribune sent e-mails to every lawmaker, asking each if they were interested in keeping a blog. Keith Darnay, the paper's Web master, said he thought the feature would draw more visitors to the Tribune's legislative Web site."Blogs are the item of the hour right now," Darnay said.

Only six senators responded - Mathern, Trenbeath, Seymour, Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo, Dick Dever, R-Bismarck, and Tony Grindberg, R-Fargo.

Of the six senator bloggers, Mathern is the most prolific. He updates his journal about every other day with posts about religion and politics, observations on the Capitol and tidbits about his family life.

"It's a way to get information out, and a way for citizens to have pretty direct communication with legislators," he said. "I probably reveal more (on the blog) than what I say on the Senate floor."

Source: The E-Law Library Weblog

THOMAS Gets a Face Lift

The Library of Congress has redesigned portions of the legislative information site, THOMAS.
  • The main change is the capability of searching the text of legislation across multiple congresses (all or selectively) from 1989 (101st Congress) to the present.
  • Search screens for the Congressional Record and Congressional Record Index have also been upgraded.

For more information on the new THOMAS features, see LLRX.com's THOMAS: New Congress, A Few Changes.

Free Tax Preparation Software & Filing from the IRS

Last week the IRS announced that it was making tax preparation software available to the public at no cost. Free electronic filing will also be available. Read more at Findlaw.

Large Law Firm Blogs

PrismLegal has compiled a list (albeit a very short list) of large law firms (NLJ 250) with firm-branded blogs. They are: Source: The E-Law Library Weblog

Demographics Database

From ABA Site-tation:

People Who Need People (or Information About People) - ERsys.com Chosen by the American Library Association as one of the best free reference sites of 2004, www.ersys.com compiles demographic information on over 2600 American communities. Choose a state from the home page; a list of cities for that state appears. The opening page for an available city shows population, state ranking of the community, and other general information such as county, United States representative, school district and average temperature.

A left navigation bar provides demographic statistics arranged by age, density, education, ethnicity, families, growth, income and skills. Each of the charts also includes comparable data for nearby metropolitan areas. Information is provided about the community's school district with available links; surrounding school district data and links are given as well. Other information given for individual communities includes media outlets (e.g., radio stations), weather information, travel distances, and a plant hardiness index. Bookmark this site if you need a quick reference for population data and general information on communities within the U.S.

January 20, 2005

Intelligence Reform Act Database

askSam is offering a free database containing the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. Individual sections of the legislation are divided into separate documents. The database and free viewer must be downloaded to your own computer.

Source: ResearchBuzz

FX Series "30 Days" Looking for Prosecutors to Live in Jail

From Blog 702:

You get some interesting e-mail when you run a web site. The following correspondence should be of interest to anyone looking for a one-month vacation from time sheets, voice-mail messages, and senior partners:

If you are a male prosecutor or former prosecutor between the ages of 30-50 who is interested in participating in a documentary about prison life by living in jail for 30 days, please email a short description of yourself and of your prosecutorial career. Please include what your current occupation is and whether or not you feel you could leave your job for 30 days (with compensation). We are currently casting for the FX series "30 DAYS", a documentary-style series from award-winning filmmaker Morgan Spurlock. The series adapts for TV the concept of Spurlock's critically-acclaimed "Super Size Me". Please email Allan Johnson at amjthree@yahoo.com or call 310.202.1272 ext.160.

We have spoken to Mr. Johnson and the project is apparently legit. We must say, a paid sabbatical sure sounds attractive to us, but we didn't ask about the food.

Source: Stark County Law Library Blawg

Firms Adding Diversity Profiles to Martindale.com

Martindale.com has recently added the option for law firms to include diversity profiles with their listings. According to a Business Wire article, this new online marketing offering "helps law firms improve their business development outreach to prospective clients and enhance their recruiting efforts for fresh legal talent."

To view a profile, check the "Search only firms with Diversity Profiles" box in the Martindale.com Lawyer Locator Firm tab. There only appear to be a handful of firms with diversity profiles so far, none of which are in Wisconsin.

Source: University of Baltimore Law Library Weblog

CNN Adds RSS Feeds

RSS fans will be pleased to learn that CNN has created a bunch of RSS feeds. Categories include top stories, most popular, law, technology and more. CNN Money RSS feeds are also available.

Source: Library Stuff

Free LexisNexis for Pro Bono Work

According to the January issue of Inside the Bar, free computerized legal research is available to attorneys and law students performing pro bono work in Wisconsin.
The State Bar and LexisNexis™ partnership provides free use of Lexis Nexis in 15-minute increments up to a 60-minute maximum. Users can conduct research from their office, home, or the State Bar Center in Madison. Visit www.wisbar.org/bar/bono to download an application. For more information, contact State Bar Pro Bono Coordinator Jeff Brown, (800) 444-9404, ext. 6177, or (608) 250-6177.

January 19, 2005

Guide to Cost-Effective Canadian Legal Research

Update 1/19/05: It appears that "Cost-Effective Canadian Legal Research: Finding Free Canadian Legal Materials on the Internet" is now available on the Wisconsin Law Journal Web site.
For anyone needing to do Canadian legal research, check out the December 29th issue of the Wisconsin Law Journal. Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin member, Heidi Kuehl has written a useful guide entitled "Cost-Effective Canadian Legal Research: Finding Free Canadian Legal Materials on the Internet". The article does not appear to be available on the WLJ Web site.

Make Citations in Web Pages Live Links with WestCiteLink

WestCiteLink has been around for a while. It's a software application that automatically finds the legal citations in your word-processing documents and links them to the full text documents on Westlaw.

But I recently learned that it is also available for Internet Explorer. Imagine that you are viewing a Web page which contains a legal citation, but has no link to the full text document. If you're using IE and you've installed WestCiteLink, you can simply click the "CL" icon in the West toolbar and those citations magically become links to the documents in Westlaw. You will be charged each time you click on a link, but it could be a significant time saver.

Two versions of the software are available for download from West. One is for law school users and another for all other users. According to Westlaw, three WestCiteLink compatibility modules are included with the download: one for Microsoft Word, another for Corel WordPerfect, and a third for Microsoft Internet Explorer. By default, the installation program will install the module for each of these three programs that it detects on your computer. Alternatively, you can select which compatibility modules are installed by choosing the "custom" option during installation.

Wisconsin Legislative Action Center (Capwiz)

Through its Wisconsin Legislative Action Center (Capwiz) service, the Wisconsin State Bar offers action alerts on important legislative issues.

According to Deb Sybell, Government Relations Coordinator at the Wisconsin State Bar, the action alerts are "intended to mobilize our State Bar membership when an important issue is before the Legislature. Those attorneys who sign up for the action alerts will receive an e-mail with a link to the action alert. They can enter their home address and be linked electronically to their legislator. The Legislative Action Alerts will provide the attorneys with talking points on the issue to incorporate in their e-mail to their legislator."

Milwaukee History in Postcards

Get ready for a trip down memory lane, Milwaukeeans. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Special Collections department (my alma mater) has compiled an interesting collection entitled Greetings from Milwaukee. The collection contains digital images of the city - some quirky - produced by two Milwaukee-based postcard publishers, the L.L. Cook Company and the E.C. Kropp Company.

Source: The Scout Report

Best Free Reference Web Sites

The Machine-Assisted Reference Section of the American Library Association has released their 2004 picks for the Best Free Reference Web Sites. Of particular interest may be: Pew Internet & American Life According to its mission statement, the Pew Internet & American Life Project makes available "original, academic-quality research that explores the impact of the Internet on children, families, communities, the work place, schools, health care and civic/political life."

Thomas Register, a searchable database of North American manufacturing companies and products, contains entries for more than 173,000 U.S. and Canadian companies, over 152,000 brand names, as well as links to over 8,000 online supplier catalogs and Web sites.

University of Michigan Documents Center
The Documents Center is one of the best gateways for government information on the web today.

U.S. Copyright Office
This site provides one-stop shopping for copyright information complete with all the forms and processing instructions for obtaining copyright protection.

Courthouse News Service

Although it's not new, I've recently learned about a service called Courthouse News Service (CNS). A news wire for lawyers, CNS employs a network of correspondents who file daily reports covering new appellate rulings, new legislation and new civil cases from the federal and state courts with the most prolific and weighty litigation.

Much of the material is available only to subscribers, however, some free content is offered. On the main page, current headlines are highlighted and include links to complete stories. A page of new options for the Seventh Circuit is also available. Links to full-text, online versions of the opinions are provided.

Source: InSITE

Bloggers Make Fortune

Bloggers are on the cover of a recent issue of Fortune magazine. The full text of the article, Why You Can't Ignore Bloggers is available online.

From the article:

But whatever the topic, the discussion of business isn't usually too far behind: from bad experiences with a product to good customer service somewhere else. Suddenly everyone's a publisher and everyone's a critic. Says Jeff Jarvis, author of the blog BuzzMachine, and president and creative director of newspaper publisher Advance Publications' Internet division: "There should be someone at every company whose job is to put into Google and blog search engines the name of the company or the brand, followed by the word 'sucks,' just to see what customers are saying."

January 18, 2005

Judge Posts Videotaped Sentencing Proceedings on Internet

Robert Ambrogi's LawSites reports that Medina County (OH) Common Pleas Judge James L. Kimbler is using the Internet to enhance public access to his courtroom.
Several months ago, Kimbler began videotaping the sentencing proceedings he presides over and posting them to his court's Web site. (Follow the link to Inside the Court: Online Edition.) He uses his own camcorder and keeps himself out of the picture, focusing on the prosecutor, defense lawyer and defendant.

For Kimbler, this is one more step in a continuing effort to make his courtroom more accessible, he told the Associated Press. The judge already uses the Internet to conduct online pretrial conferences with lawyers, and the court's home page invites visitors to sign up to receive Kimbler's weekly e-mail updates. The site includes a variety of court documents and docket information, verdict summaries and the daily calendar.

If the videos prove popular, Kimbler told AP, he would like to add webcasts of other court proceedings, including jury selection, change-of-plea hearings and perhaps even entire trials.

LexisNexis AlaCarte: Search Free, Pay Per Document Viewed

Update 1/18/05: Jennifer Aleknavage, Communications Manager for LexisNexis alerted me that there are some additional differences between the LexisNexis AlaCarte product and LexisNexis by Credit Card.

According to her, LexisNexis AlaCarte:

  • is targeted for small- to medium-sized businesses
  • has a new and simplified interface for easy navigation-significant difference
  • offers simplified search functionality options. You can conduct a simple search or an advanced search. Traditional research commands are not necessary but are still an option under advanced search. We have shortened this distance from search to solution. The user can run complex searches with a simple output so they get the answers they need. The search process is seamless to the user. After they enter the key search words and the date ranges, the searches are run behind the scenes so you only see the end results, only the relevant documents that are retrieved.
  • requires no subscriptions with this service, and you just pay-per document (average per doc price is $3)

A couple of weeks ago, LexisNexis released a new service called LexisNexis AlaCarte which offers free searching of it's news & business-related databases. Users are charged only for documents they choose to view.

I was uncertain of the difference between LexisNexis AlaCarte and LexisNexis by Credit Card which has been around for some time. She told me that the AlaCarte search interface is designed to look more like traditional LexisNexis. Apparently, LexisNexis by Credit Card will be discontinued sometime next year.

According to a news release from LexisNexis:

The service, available via www.lexisnexis.com/alacartenow, provides access to more than 20,000 sources of business, news, business public records, and government information, including top newspapers, magazines and transcripts, company and industry reports, deed records, liens, zip demographics, state and federal legislation, and intellectual property.

The site does not require a subscription, and documents can be ordered on a per-document basis by credit card through a secure site. Consumers will also gain access to legal information starting next year. Until then, you may continue to use LexisNexis by Credit Card.

January 13, 2005

Article: High Court Justice Shows Up for Jury Duty

From an article appearing in Findlaw for Legal Professionals:

No one took any notice of the tall, slim man who appeared Tuesday for jury duty. Had he worn his black robe, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer no doubt would have drawn more attention.

Even Marlborough, Mass., District Court Judge Thomas Sullivan Jr. didn't recognize Breyer until he read the justice's name on a document listing potential jurors for cases he was hearing.

"When I looked at the slip I said, 'Oh, my God,'" Sullivan said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Source: Stark County Law Library Blawg

Customized Company News Via RSS From Yahoo!

For those of you using a newsreader such as Bloglines to read this blog and other blogs via RSS, you might be interested to learn that Yahoo! Finance is now offering company news via RSS. Simply plug a ticker symbol into the Yahoo! Finance Company News RSS URL Generator and away you go.

Source: beSpacific

January 11, 2005

LLRX Updates List of Court Rules, Forms, and Dockets

LLRX.com has recently updated its excellent collection of links to court rules, forms and dockets. It includes links to over 1,400 sources for state and federal court rules, forms and dockets. You can browse to find the resource you need, or search by keyword.

Of particular interest may be the collection of Wisconsin links.

Source: LLRX update

WSLL @ Your Service January Issue

The January 2005 issue of WSLL @ Your Service is now available from the Wisconsin State Law Library. Featured are librarian Julie Tessmer's visit to Serbia as law library consultant for the National Center for State Courts’ (NCSC) Rule of Law project and a tech tip on Cell Phones, Telemarketing and Wireless 411 Service.

January 5, 2005

Acrobat Reader 7.0 Now Available

The new Acrobat Reader 7.0 is now available as a free download. For more information, see the summary of new features.

Source: PDF for Lawyers

LexisNexis Offers Free U.S. Politics and World News

LexisNexis has launched a free online resource called LexisNexis U.S. Politics & World News, which provides updated news stories on the Bush administration, notable political figures, Iraq, and more from over 4,000 U.S. and International news sources.

Special coverage on the Tsunami Disaster is currently featured on the site. This site is the successor of the Campaign 2004 site, which provided news and information on Election 2004 candidates and issues surrounding the election.

Thanks to a colleague from the UW Memorial Library for the tip

2005-06 WI Legislative Notification Service Now Available

According to a notice I just received, the Wisconsin Legislative Notification Service has resumed for the 2005-06 Legislature.

The Wisconsin Legislative Notification System allows anyone the opportunity to follow legislation by receiving daily or weekly emails for specific legislative activities. You can choose items by Proposal, Committee, Author or Subject and can select the activities for which you would like to receive notifications. This is a free service from the Wisconsin Legislature.

Note to Previous Subscribers: Since queries from the last legislative session do not carry over to the current session, you must re-subscribe to legislative items that you want to follow.

Please direct your questions, suggestions or comments to Notify.Support@legis.state.wi.us.

January 4, 2005

Overview of Agency Requests in WI State Budget

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau has recently prepared an Overview of State Agency Major Request Items for the 2005-07 Wisconsin State Budget

The report provides "an overview of the 2005-07 budget requests which state agencies have submitted for inclusion in the executive budget document. Its purpose is to highlight the major changes which have been requested and thus, is not a comprehensive summary of each proposed modification. The document generally contains only those items with a fiscal effect in excess of $250,000 or which represent a significant policy change. The document reflects budget requests that were submitted as of December 8, 2004."

Madison Magazine Issue on Top Lawyers Profiles a Law Librarian

This month's issue of Madison Magazine focuses on the law profession.

"Who Could Keep a Lawyer Quiet? The law librarian, of course - probably the most unheralded employee at every firm" is the intriguing title of an article profiling Heidi Yelk, the reference and electronic services librarian at the Wisconsin State Law Library. The article explains what a law librarian does and offers advice on how to become one.

The issue also features The Final Verdict: Exclusive Top Lawyers Survey 2005 which lists top Dane County attorneys in various practice areas.

Also included is a profile of Wisconsin State Bar Pres, Michelle Behnke and an article on setting up a health care power of attorney.

Report on The State of Blogging

Pew Internet and American Life has just released a new report on the state of blogging. Based on the results of two nationwide telephone surveys in November, Pew found that:
  • 7% of the 120 million U.S. adults who use the internet say they have created a blog or web-based diary. That represents more than 8 million people.
  • 27% of internet users say they read blogs. . . This means that by the end of 2004 32 million Americans were blog readers.
  • 5% of internet users say they use RSS aggregators or XML readers to get the news and other information delivered from blogs and content-rich Web sites as it is posted online.
  • At the same time, for all the excitement about blogs and the media coverage of them, blogs have not yet become recognized by a majority of internet users. Only 38% of all internet users know what a blog is. The rest are not sure what the term "blog" means.

Source: Library Stuff

PACER Increases Fees

Beginning January 1st, PACER fees increased from 7 cents per page to 8 cents per page for public access to court electronic records. The fee increase applies to all systems (CM/ECF, PACER, RACER, etc.).

The 30 page cap on case-related documents and reports (excluding transcripts) will remain in effect. However, the maximum cost will be $2.40.

What is PACER? Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is an electronic public access service that allows users to obtain case and docket information from Federal Appellate, District and Bankruptcy courts, and from the U.S. Party/Case Index.

Source: Legal Dockets Online

January 3, 2005

New Edition of DCLRC Docket

Correction - 1/4/05: Looks like I linked to the January 2004 edition of DCLRC Docket below! But the January 2005 edition is available, too. The new DCLRC Blawg is featured. --------------------------------

The January edition of the DCLRC Docket is now available. It features a tech tip on evaluating websites and a link to a list of low cost legal assistance agencies in Dane County.

New Blog: Law Practice Tips

Jim Calloway, Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association Management Assistance Program, has launched a new Law Practice Tips Blog. The blog will focus on law practice management, the Internet and technology as it applies both in law practice and in daily life.

Source: Stark County Law Library Blawg