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Law Practice Management and Technology

The Bottom Line Volume 34, No. 4, October 2013

21st Century Legal Research: Authenticating Electronic Data

By Lawrence R. (Larry) Meyer, Executive Director of the Law Library for San Bernardino County

Everything is on the Internet, right? At least, that is what many people outside of the legal industry seem to think. However, in the case of authoritative electronic legal research, the theory is far from true. More importantly, even when true, the information may come at a cost, or be incomplete or untrustworthy.

As to the issue of cost, there are many players in the electronic legal industry that provide both primary and some degree of secondary authority to users at your office, your smart phone, tablet or other electronic device. This includes the “biggies” that most of us are familiar with from law school, some of the smaller companies that have been around for a while, and some newer upstarts that are gaining credibility in the marketplace. Most attorneys will have access to some or all of those databases through subscriptions that will either be flat rate or be on a pay as you go plan.

Additionally, there are various other sources of primary authority for free. These sources include individual states, the federal government, through companies such as Justia or projects such as the Legal Information Institute (LII) at Cornell, among others.

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