Depending on what you want to know and how you want to use the information, there are many online resources to learn about the law and the impact it makes. There are very general resources and you will also find very specialized outlets for your particular interest. Just like everything else on the internet, the quality of these resources vary so you may not want to take as Gospel all of what you read all the time.
Depending on what you want to find out, you may run into the common problems of finding too much information and not knowing where to start filtering information out or finding little or nothing on the topic you’re interested in. If you’re used to using Google or Yahoo to find what you want quickly and easily, you may be disappointed because the law can be very complex and finding what you want may take some time. The ease of searching and how functional websites are varies.
If you want to go deep into an area of law and find the best resources and information you should use either Westlaw or Lexis. These online services have a depth and breadth of information and resources you won’t find elsewhere. The main problems with these services is that they are extremely expensive and because the offer so much information, finding what you want may be difficult without taking the time to learn how to research their offerings and getting some experience using them. Your local courthouse may have a library where you may be able to access these services for free. If a law school library is nearby, you may also be able to use these services there for free.
Online Law Libraries
If you pay federal taxes, you’re helping pay for it, so why not give it a try? It’s the Library of Congress Law Library. It has many resources and provides links to other resources. Or, well-organized non-profit resources also can have libraries on the law. Cornell University Law School has an excellent website with its own resources (The Cornell Legal Information Institute) and links to others that may be of interest.
There are a number of websites where you can perform legal research, including Google Scholar, FindLaw, Justia and Leagle. These websites are free to use, so don’t expect the best resources, most effective or easiest searches but do expect some advertisements (someone has to pay for it).
Whatever area of law you’re interested in, you may find dozens of lawyers blogging about it. These blogs can be very useful but most blogs are a form of marketing for that lawyer or law firm. You may not get the most comprehensive, unbiased view of a law or a legal decision. It’s probably going to be slanted in a way for that lawyer and/or law firm to get more clients.
There are also law blogs from the Wall Street Journal, SCOTUSblog covers the U.S. Supreme Court, The Crime Report covers criminal law and The Volokh Conspiracy is written by a group of law school professors and published by the Washington Post.
Google News is a news aggregator that can be customized to search out whatever legal issue may interest you, whether it’s entertainment law, child support or California business law. Another aggregator is Flipboard with which you can pick specific areas of law you want to receive stories about. Flipboard is much more polished and magazine-like than Google News.
Whatever you want to find out about the law is out there. All you need to do is find it. Happy hunting.