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We’ve been touting the World Wide Web for use by lawyers for years, and it looks as if the legal profession has finally caught up with us. Certainly every lawyer who does legal research should be aware that paid services such as Westlaw, Lexis, Loislaw, Quicklaw and Versuslaw maintain substantial databases of primary and secondary legal material at prices ranging from hundreds of dollars to $6.95 per month. But lawyers do not research by statutes, judicial opinions and treatises alone. This week we look at Juritas, a new Web site that will rise or fall on the premise that lawyers can obtain useful insight, and maybe copy a document or two, from litigated case files as they are generated in the real world. We also report on some features recently added to lexisOne, the limited but free portion of the Lexis legal research system. But first, for those lawyers who still have not been able to distinguish between the Internet, the World Wide Web and America Online, a few words about how easy it is to get connected. (More experienced lawyers please jump down a couple of paragraphs or, perhaps, clip the following and send it to your senior partners and others who really need it.) GETTING ON THE WEB What we now know as the Internet began life in the late ’60s as DARPA, a government experiment in computer-to-computer communications. Over the next couple of decades, the successful experiment expanded to a commercial communications backbones that permitted almost anyone in the country to obtain an Internet account and communicate. By the early ’90s more powerful PCs, operating systems based upon GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces) such as Microsoft Windows and the Apple Macintosh OS became practical, and the World Wide Web, an overlay to standard Internet protocols, made it clear that data could be pictures, music, videos or anything else. The World Wide Web would revolutionize the world we live in and the practice of law. Today, lawyers use the Web to do legal research, to find lost witnesses, to check credit records, to aggregate time and expenses for client billings, to file court documents, to make order office supplies and to make reservations at restaurants and to perform a host of other chores. Virtually any new computer purchased in the last five years is capable of accessing the Web. All that’s needed is a modem or a network card and an agreement with an ISP (Internet Service Provider) at a cost of nothing to about $50 per month depending on access speed. In addition to the connection and the hardware, you’ll need system software, which usually comes free with the Macintosh or Microsoft operating systems, a browser (Internet Explorer or Netscape Communicator, both available without cost) and an e-mail program, again available at little or no cost. These programs do all of the hard work and, once set up, work without effort at all. Once you’re connected, just click on the access icon and go. The process is easy and inexpensive and is guaranteed to help you work faster and better. JURITAS If it is your first time litigating a particular issue or if you’re litigating with a firm you’ve never dealt with before, it might well pay to send a clerk down to the courthouse and check out similar cases or cases in which your new opponent represented a party. If a brief on a particular point of law persuaded a judge — perhaps even the judge assigned to your case — once, try modeling the brief you are writing after the successful brief. If the successful brief was written in your office, your document management system should find it. But how would you find that brief if it was written by someone else in town or across the country? Use Juritas! Juritas is a Web-based collection of court documents from cases that have gone to verdict or judgment in a federal district court. The collection holds complaints, answers, motions, briefs, orders and just about anything that is actually filed with the court. Cases are divided into 16 topics — from antitrust and banking to securities and tax — and currently are only from courts in California, Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, New York and Washington. (The developer claims to have more than 50,000 separate documents currently on file. Eventually cases are to be available from most of the district courts.) The user can search by case topic, jurisdiction, Boolean search for specific words or some combination, or in segments like party, law firm or filing date. Each case contains a docket sheet that shows related documents together. A motion to dismiss is followed by the brief in support, the reply brief and finally the order granting or denying the Motion. Each document is available as an image or in text or image PDF format. Although you must register to use some of the features on the site — Juritas lets you assign time used in the system to a client and matter, for example — everything but actually looking at a document is free. If, after searching, finding a case and reviewing the docket list, you find a document you would like read, select the document and be prepared to pay four dollars per document page for the privilege. Payment can be by credit card or you can open an account. Juritas provides a service you might need some day. Bookmark www.juritas.comon your browser. SUMMARY Juristas presents court file documents from closed federal trials, so you can look for a model brief or complaint, or perform due diligence on opposing counsel. Searching is free; reading is $4 per page. Juritas.Com 120 S. State St., Chicago, IL 60603 Phone: 888-877-9695 or 312-424-0800 Fax: 312-424-0700 Web: www.juritas.com Barry D. Bayer practices law and writes about computers from his office in Homewood, Ill. You may send comments or questions to his new e-mail address [email protected]or write c/oLaw Office Technology Review , P.O. Box 2577, Homewood, IL 60430.

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