Top 5 Online Legal Research Tips For Lawyers

These days, lawyers can locate just about any type of information online. Because if you know where to look, you can often access–for free or at a very low cost–information that used to cost thousands of dollars. With the advent and broadscale usage of the Internet, many of yesterday’s expensive databases are now accessible and affordable. It’s just a matter of knowing which websites to use and how to find the information you’re looking for.

That’s exactly what was covered at ABA Techshow this year during the presentation “Binggooleduckyahoo! How to Search For Anything and Find it.” Carole Levitt and Craig Bayer shared their combined wisdom about the ins and outs of locating information online while Stephanie Crowley took visual notes of this session on behalf of MyCase.The visual notes from that session can be found below, including our selection of the top 5 most useful tips from the presentation, along with links to sites that provide further information (click to view larger image):



1. Boolean search tips: 1) Search engines automatically add the word “and” to multiple word searches. 2) Manually adding “or” to a search is typically a bad idea since “or” means “and/or,’ so your results could include just one of the search terms or both. 3) But if you do add “or” to a search term, remember to capitalize “Or”. It matters! You can learn more about Boolean search here.

2. Using proximity connectors when searching for names: To find a person who sometimes uses a middle name or middle initial, use Google’s secret proximity connector, AROUND(#): Carole AROUND(2) Levitt. “AROUND” must be in all caps. This search brings back results with or without Carole Levitt’s middle name or middle initial. This is better than the phrase “Carole Levitt,” which will miss all results where she is referred to with her middle name or middle initial. For more on proximity and truncation searching, check this out.

3. Anonymous search: The presenters recommended DuckDuckGo! for anonymous, unbiased search results. An added benefit of DuckDuckGo! is that it allows you to run anonymous searches using other search engines.

4) Search more efficiently on your PC: To increase the accuracy of your PC’s built-in search, modify the settings. You do this by going to the Control Panel, then select “Indexing Options.” Next select “Modify Index and Properties.” Make sure to always search file names and contents. You can learn more about modifying search indexing options on your PC here.

5) Search more efficiently on your Mac: The presenters had a few recommendations to improve the search capabilities on a Mac. First, they suggested you turn off Bing search. Second, turn off Spotlight suggestions. Finally, prioritize documents ahead of other file types, such as music, etc. According to the presenters, one way to improve your ability to search your Mac is to consider buying Houdah Spot ($29), which is an advanced file search tool for Macs.

–Nicole Black


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