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Insites (web)

Every Issue

Cite as: (2008) 82(6) LIJ, p. 80

This month we review The American Lawyer, a new tax library, a website updating service, the Sentencing Advisory Council, the NLA’s electronic resources and a human rights site.

The American Lawyer

Lawyers are naturally intrigued by what other lawyers are doing in their work. The American Lawyer on the web provides LIV members with an excellent opportunity to “go virtual” in discovering what’s happening in the legal profession overseas. This website provides free access in electronic format to the same material as the printed version. Take a look at and download the main feature stories highlighted, or review the daily newswire on the homepage, to keep up to date with media stories throughout the US. One month an issue could include surveys, information on successful US law firms and strategies that keep them successful, while another issue could feature controversial US trials or legal professionals who have experienced a spectacular failure with a big business deal or notable case.

Australian Taxation Law Library

The Australian Taxation Law Library, which was launched in March, is available on AustLII. Its aim is to provide a one-stop-shop for all the tax-related resources on AustLII, including legislation, case law, journal articles and treaties. Apart from AustLII’s databases, three other search options are available: Law on Google, Catalog & Websearch and the ATO Legal Database. The library also includes (at test stage only) point-in-time tax legislation – a very useful inclusion. This new and very up-to-date addition to AustLII should greatly assist those searching for tax-related information to save time and more easily conduct comprehensive searches.

Although not specifically a “legal” tool, internet services that automatically monitor websites and notify you of changes can be an invaluable way of keeping up with current awareness. We find to be one of the most straightforward and easy to use of a number of similar sites. Simply enter the URL of a website page and will send you an email every time that page is modified. This service will not replace something like an RSS feed and is probably not ideal for constantly updated pages. However, it is ideal for monitoring, for example, the Victorian Legislative Council Notice Papers, because each new PDF linked to will trigger an alert to your inbox.

Sentencing Advisory Council

Victoria’s Sentencing Advisory Council has created an exceptionally well laid out and “clutter free” website. The independent statutory body was established in 2004 and aims to inform the public, the judiciary and the government on sentencing matters.
For practitioners dealing with criminal matters, the Sentencing Statistics section of the site provides a comprehensive list of sentencing trends. Reports are broken down by type of crime, age and race demographics of those sentenced, and numerous other divisions. The charts and graphs in the reports are well designed and informative at a glance, and all reports are also available in simple, printer friendly versions.

E-Resources (National Library of Australia)

The E-Resources section of the National Library of Australia
(NLA) website is an excellent starting point for assessing the scope of first-class electronic resources on almost any academic or commercial topic. While a lot of the material linked to is subscription-based and therefore unavailable from outside NLA’s physical walls, turning to this site for a quick subject search is worth your time. The site uses a structured vocabulary to assist in searching, which results in a more useful, authoritative and Australian focused list of available resource providers than an “algorithm based” search engine keyword search would.

Human Rights Watch

insites last visited the Human Rights Watch website in July 2004. Four years later sees the site still sporting the same look and layout but with a noticeable update, both in terms of content and in the selective use of “web 2.0” type technologies (think news feeds, podcasts, social bookmarking etc.). Articles on the site are not specifically written for a legal audience but serve well as a broad overview of current issues – the site’s real value lies in the amazing amount of fresh content added daily. As a pitiful yardstick, in 2004 insites searched for “Guantanamo” and received 235 results.
The same search today yields over 3000 results


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