However, “It’s not all on the Web, [and] it’s not all available for free,” Giancaterino warned.

According to Giancaterino, Lexis and Westlaw unquestionably offer more than what one might find free or inexpensively on the Internet.

“[They] exist for a purpose and with good reason,” Giancaterino said. “They’re great aggregators; they have a lot of information; they have pretty decent customer service; and they have the coverage over the years that the Internet cannot hope to match.”


User beware firmly in place, Giancaterino moved on to the Internet’s latest and greatest.

Search engines are a hot topic among net gurus as features are added daily and new engines surface regularly, Giancaterino said. And public records sites have improved in the last year or so. For attorneys, this means plenty of information is available at little or no cost for those who know the right keystrokes.

In a follow-up interview with The Legal Intelligencer, Giancaterino said practitioners only need a couple of tools for effective Web searches. First, a toolbox of useful sites is essential, and, second, a working knowledge of search techniques should be acquired.

Lawyers who can conduct Boolean and phrase searches and who have a list of good sites should easily find 80 percent of what they need, Giancaterino said. Jenkins offers hands-on CLE courses on electronic research including the how-tos of Web searching for beginners as well as advanced search techniques. At the solo and small firm presentation, Giancaterino named Google ( the best all-purpose search engine. The site has doubled in pages over the 1 1/2 years, bringing its total to 2.4 billion pages. Numerous file-types — including images, PowerPoint presentations, Microsoft Word documents and spreadsheet data — have also been added.

To boot, Google boasts a Usenet archive. The archive, Giancaterino said, houses bulletin board services where Web-goers post questions or comments and receive feedback from other users. “Usenet is a great tool for finding out about medical conditions, quality of life issues, product information, sometimes even company information if there’s a lot of buzz going on there,” he said. “Google has … well over 700 million messages.”

Perhaps the most useful tip of the day was skipping search engines’ main pages in favor of their advanced search pages. As Giancaterino advised, all the good stuff is happening on the advanced page.

For instance, one can type in an exact phrase or simply ask for all the words in the query to be included in the search results. But for additional refinement, it’s possible to limit dates, specify where requested terms are located (in the page’s title for example), or choose only a certain file type such as a PDF or an image.

Giancaterino’s second pick was AlltheWeb ( The Internet librarian described the 2.1 billion-page site as well-designed with a great advanced search page. But the AlltheWeb’s standout feature is its background check option.

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