Internet for Lawyers

The July issue of Your ABA, (“e-news for members”) has an article entitled Secrets of Internet Search: Insider Tips, Little-Known Resources, Backgrounding Experts, More with an interview of internet expert Carole A. Levitt. She and her co-author Mark E. Rosch, wrote Find Info Like a Pro, Volume 1: Mining the Internet’s Publicly Available Resources for Investigative Research (Call #KF242.A1 L4785 2010) which is part of the Brooklyn Law School Library’s collection.

Noting that the internet has become a legal researcher’s best friend and a logical first choice for finding people and gathering background on them, the article says that many judges believe lawyers have a “duty to Google” as part of their due diligence on a case and that most effective information searches involve more than Google. The interview is worth reading as Levitt with 20 years of experience as a legal researcher, California attorney and internet trainer, offers practical tips for effectively mining the internet for information. She cites a Missouri Supreme Court decision on the issue of due diligence required of lawyers to look at the court dockets when choosing jurors. The case arose as a result of a juror lying about not being involved personally in litigation. The lawyers discovered the truth after the verdict was returned. Using their state courts’ docket database, they found out that the juror had in fact been involved in several litigation issues. Thorough research goes beyond case and statutory law to what is available on the internet.

Speaking of her latest work, Levitt says “We added a 40-page chapter on social networking in this book – specifically dealing with the kinds of research issues you raise, and more. I think it’s the first thing that lawyers should know—how MySpace and Facebook work. We suggest that lawyers research not only the opposing party, but their own clients, opposing lawyers, jurors.” Other issues addressed include the need to verify and validate information found on the web, ethical issues on what lawyers can and cannot put on their profile pages and the admissibility of information found online especially for archived web pages found through the Internet Archive Way Back Machine. In addition to being able to read her book at the BLS Library, researchers can access Levitt and Rosch’s blog, Internet for Lawyers.