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JILT 1998 (1) - Delia Venables

Around the World in 80 Minutes

A New Tour of the World Wide Web for Lawyers

Delia Venables.

1. Join the Tour!
2. The UK
3. Tour of the USA
4. Australia and The Pacific
5. Continental Europe

This article has been written jointly for The Journal of Information, Law and Technology, published by the Universities of Strathclyde and Warwick and The Internet Newsletter for Lawyers, published by Delia Venables.

This is an updated IT Review published on 27 February 1998

The original version was published on 30 September 1996

Citation:Venables D, 'Around the World in 80 minutes: A New Tour of the World Wide Web for Lawyers', IT Review, 1998 (1) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT). <>. New citation as at 1/1/04: <>.

1. Join the Tour!

As you travel around the World Wide Web on this tour, you will select the links to places that interest you. In each case, read the brief description before you take the link. After each excursion, use the 'Back' button as often as necessary to retrace your steps to this page.

2. The UK

We'll start our tour with The Times to check the weather - and have a look at the Law Reports. The site is free but you have to 'register' before you are given access. You will be given a user name and a password.

When you get into the site, you will be shown a front page with a short version of today's lead stories. If you select one of these, you will be presented with the full text of the story. Notice that there will be a number of possible other links in the story, each of which would take you into a related news item. These links could be for items from past issues - a benefit of the web edition which cannot be matched by the printed version.

Have a little look around the paper (including the weather) and also have a look at the Law Reports; you will see them listed on one of the options down the left hand side of the page.

Next we will look at the Butterworths site. This contains two useful free services:

  • 'Law Online' provides a daily summary of legal developments from various primary sources with links to more comprehensive reports.
  • 'Hot Off the Press' provides a daily abstract of stories on legal topics from the national press.

    (Note that many of the publishers' services are now subscription services, including Sweet & Maxwell, New Law Online and Lawtel. A full description of these services is given here but is really beyond the scope of the present tour, which is limited to free resources.)

    The UK Parliamentary Site is growing fast and now provides Hansards of both Houses, new Acts and Statutory Instruments, Bills before Parliament, and House of Lords Judgments. This is well worth a few minutes to explore.

    The Government Information Service provides an excellent set of resources covering just about every Department, Regulatory Body or Quango. There is also a comprehensive news section covering all initiatives (for this, take the What's New option).

    For a legal online journal which uses the new medium very effectively, have a look at the Universities of Warwick and Strathclyde's Journal of Information, Law and Technology. This is not just a 'text on screen' journal but a set of linked web resources set in an academic context. As part of the journal, there is a Current Legal News Service which is frequently updated.

    The Internet arm of Legalease, the legal publishers, provide The Centre for Commercial Law. This includes a listing of the 'UK Legal 500' as well the European Legal 500 and the Asia-Pacific Legal 500. They also provide legal commentaries on current topics of Commercial Law.

    Time is pressing..... here are a few more UK selections from my own pages to choose from but otherwise, let's move on to the USA section below!

  • A list of Firms of Solicitors on the web
  • A list of Barristers and Chambers
  • UK Legal Sites and Resources
  • New Legal Sites

3. Tour of the USA

The USA is a long way ahead of us in the provision of legal materials on the Internet. They did, after all, create the Internet in the first place.

Law Journal Extra, published online by the New York Law Publishing Company, provides constantly updated news about legal developments in the USA.
(Their International News is good too, if you have time to look).

Let's go next to the U.S. House of Representatives. This provides a mass of information including Federal and State Law in a searchable form. There is also information about bills and resolutions currently being considered in Congress, contact details for Members and Committees and links to other Government sites and sources.

For a University site we will look at the Indiana School of Law which contains, under the name of the 'Virtual Law Library', a comprehensive listing of legal sites and sources in the USA. There is also a list of material organised by legal topic (Constitutional Law, Copyright and so on) and also by type or source (Treaty, Legislation...). It also contains a list of Law Schools & Libraries and a list of Law Firms on the WWW, although mainly USA based of course.

West's Legal Directory is the principal internet directory of Law Firms and Lawyers of the USA and Canada. Basic information is there of all (most?) firms and lawyers, without charge to them, and more comprehensive information is included for firms who pay a fee. The data base can be searched by name, by state and by areas of practice and it seems to work very efficiently.

The Internet Lawyer is a monthly newsletter focusing on the practical use of the Internet by the legal industry in the USA. In addition to the printed newsletter (which can be ordered here on a subscription basis) these pages provide a set of articles on legal topics, a 'Dr Internet' advice column and a set of links to other legal resources.

The next site is called Counsel Connect, the largest online communication network for lawyers, with more than 40,000 subscribers. The service offers online discussion groups and seminars in more than 200 areas of law, personalized daily news reports and libraries of legal briefs and memos. It is a very attractive and impressive site. A register of lawyers is maintained with a searching facility.

Now we leave the USA and continue our tour westwards.....

4. Australia and The Pacific

The Australian Legal Information Institute (Austlii) provides free internet access to Australian legal materials. To quote from their own description.... 'AustLII is one of the largest sources of legal materials on the net, with over 2.5 gigabytes of raw text materials and about half a million searchable documents. AustLII's policy agenda is to convince parliaments, governments, courts, law reform bodies and other public institutions to make legal materials they control available free via the internet.'

'The AustLII collection contains full-text databases of most Australian decisions and legislation. Current databases include Commonwealth, ACT, NSW and SA legislation and regulations, most federal courts (High Court, Federal Court, Family Court, AAT etc) and many state courts and tribunals. It also includes a number of more subject specific databases.'

For a comprehensive examination of the AUSTLII site and the implications for law reporting of the future, see also the online Journal of Information Law and Technology (JILT) produced by the Universities of Warwick and Strathclyde, June 30th 1997 edition, which has an article called The AustLII Papers - New Directions in Law via the Internet by Prof Graham Greenleaf et al.

A very useful analysis of Australian law resources generally is provided by Melbourne barrister Desmond Lane. Desmond has also written a Guide to the Internet to help Lawyers understand the Internet which can be accessed online.

The Legal Information Institute of New Zealand ( is aiming to provide open and free access to all of New Zealand's legal materials. There are over 100 full text New Zealand statutes available so far and links to other legal material.

The Auckland District Law Society provides a basis of contact and information to the legal community there. There is a good set of links to Commonwealth Law bodies and also a list of New Zealand law firms on the Internet.

The official Hong Kong Government site has a mass of information about Hong Kong. The site changed substantially on July 1st!

I do not have much for Japan, China, Russia, Eastern Europe or indeed Africa or South America. Perhaps I will be able to do better for next year's tour! In the meantime, if you want to find something specifically in the countries not represented here, please try my International page.

5. Continental Europe

The European Union's history, aims and institutions are all covered on a site called EUROPA and there are links to EU publications, statistics and on-line services. This is a massive site and the unquestioned starting point for European resources. (Much of the material is provided in eleven languages as well).

The European Court of Justice has a major site now and puts the full text of recent judgments on the web although not, it seems, in browsable form - you have to know what you are looking for and enter the key description of the judgment concerned.

The European Court of Human Rights also has recent judgments available.

International Court of Justice at the Hague, with full text judgments and other material maintained by Cornell University.

Information on all European Governments (both EU and non-EU) is provided at Governments on-line, a part of the Europa site. This provides a starting point for those wishing to locate and explore citizen-oriented information disseminated by governments and other official institutions of the EU countries.

A substantial set of links has been set up by the European Law Firm organisation, covering a wide variety of governmental, political and legal sites.

The University of Edinburgh, Faculty of Law, maintains the Europa Library Home Page which includes links to a number of developing European sites.

An International Law Page has been created by a law student at Groningen University, Holland, called Roel Hans Bethlehem. This page includes links to international organisations, particularly European ones, and links to International Law Journals and also Universities involved in International Law.

Tired? But certainly not, I hope bored....your tour is over.

More sites and sights can be found on my own pages Legal Resources Pages.

JILT logo and link to JILT homepage