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Cite as: November 2011 85(11) LIJ, p.68

This month's reviews cover legal help after a disaster, planning, US legislation, films about the history of law and the FFFFA and AustLII sites.

Disaster Legal Help

www.disasterlegalhelp.org.au

Disaster Legal Help is a website produced by a group of legal service organisations including the LIV. It provides free legal information to Victorians who have been affected by disasters. Its easy-to-read fact sheets are tailored for the general public and contain practical advice on many legal matters. Each fact sheet also provides answers to frequently asked questions and to common scenarios that may have arisen. The home page offers information for those affected by the 2011 Victorian floods on issues ranging from fencing to insurance and property. It is a good port of call for anyone unsure of what to do next when faced with destruction or damage of their homes and belongings. The website also can be used by legal sector workers who are developing disaster response material.

Department of Planning and Community Development

www.dpcd.vic.gov.au

If you want to find information on planning, community development or heritage issues then have a look at the Department of Planning and Community Development website. Each unit of the department offers general information on who to contact and how to find a service as well as links to forms and permits needed. For legal practitioners it outlines relevant legislation as well as updates to current legislative or regulatory reform. It also outlines many of the department’s formal processes and contains links to guidelines and protocols to formal hearings. Examples of this are the Landscape guidelines and Heritage Council hearing protocols. The website is easy to use as it is set out logically and hierarchically and contains a vast amount of content and numerous links.

Thomas

thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.php

The reviewer went in search of a recent Bill before US Congress and came across Thomas, a page on the Library of Congress website that provides search facilities for finding US legislation. Named after Thomas Jefferson and launched in 1995, it contains a myriad of legislative information from Bills and Resolutions through to Congressional Records and Treaties. It also contains a central link to all 50 state legislation websites. For those looking for a particular Bill, a handy feature on the home page allows you to narrow your search to a specific senator or representative. For those unfamiliar with US legislation, it provides comprehensive links to overviews of the legal system. For those curious enough, it also provides links to historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence.

Session Cases – YouTube

www.youtube.com/user/sessioncases

These five short films about the history of law reporting and precedent, produced by the Scottish Council of Law Reporting, should be required viewing for all law students. For current lawyers, or for anyone with even the slightest interest in the history of the law, they just make really good viewing. Each video lasts 6-7 minutes and is startlingly well produced and, dare we say, downright entertaining. The YouTube channel gives no indication that more “sessions” are planned, but we very much hope so. Admittedly, law librarians are known to get a little flushed with excitement reeling off names of obscure historical authoritative report series. But don’t we all?

Fee Fie Foe Firm Australia

www.feefiefoefirm.com/au

If you are using Fee Fie Foe Firm Australia (FFFFA) as a legal directory of Australian firms, we regret to announce that you are doing it wrong. The real strength of this search engine (which uses a Google custom search limited to Australian legal firm domains) is as a tool to find what other firms are saying on areas of current law (“bullying”, “PPSR”) and as a quick way to “snoop” on the web and social media activities of other firms. The key is to use the time frame limits to narrow the results received to a manageable set. The FFFFA site itself looks in need of a little love and the Google ads are sometimes intrusive, but the concept is still good, and luckily the Google search engine behind the scenes is still ticking away.

Victorian Law Reports 1874–1956

www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VicLawRp

AustLII continues its magnificent record of providing free access to Australian law with the addition of the Victorian Law Reports. The series ran from 1874–1956 before “continuing” as the authorised series known today as the Victorian Reports. The decisions presented herein are all PDF scans of the original documents. The scans are very clean (though if we were desperate to make a critical comment, they are sometimes a little light), and should be more than acceptable for court use. The scans have been full-text indexed with a remarkable degree of accuracy, and if you are a regular user of LawCite you have probably already noticed the linked “VicLawRp” abbreviation popping up lately, leading you straight to the PDF version. On the same topic, the Victorian Reports 1953–1996 are also now online, although these decisions are currently text only.



Website reviews are provided by the LIV library, ph 9607 9360; email library@liv.asn.au.

We welcome suggestions for websites to include in this column.

Neither the LIV nor the LIJ in any way endorses or takes any responsibility whatsoever for any material contained on external websites referred to by the LIJ.

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