Bacal's Internet Legal Research Guide

By Glenn S. Bacal, J.D., M.B.A.—Co-Chair,
Intellectual Property Department, Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, P.L.C.

Revised Appendices Co-Authored with Jennings, Strouss & Salmon Summer Associates:
Shanna Bowman, Melissa Brown, Matthew Mansfield and Anne Leigh Moe

Completely updated with an edge and now with many new features, including annotated guides to best IP blog and news sites; IP sites for beginners; amusing IP sites; politically oriented IP sites; most useful websites for law students, and more!


THE INTERNET IS IN PART a library that expands at a phenomenal rate every day, but without the watchful eye of a librarian and without the discipline of a single, comprehensive card catalog. It is a bundle of information packages which, consistent with their usually free nature, almost always come with explicit disclaimers of accuracy and disclaimers of all other conceivable warranties of usefulness. It is a phone booth that provides little or no indication whether those to whom one is connecting are real-world geniuses or are instead people who are locked in an attic. It is a peephole into the day-to-day affairs of businesses and people. Despite the many shortcomings and distractions of this evolving interactive world, the Internet is an amazing resource for the lawyer who is both focused and smart. For the quick version of how to perform Internet research, take a look at Bacal’s Key Rules to Effective Searching.

This article provides an overview of conducting investigations and research on the Internet, with a healthy dose of practical advice. Internet research usually involves:

This research may be in the context of a dispute or potential litigation, or may support the international transactional or e-commerce lawyer in researching business, legal or drafting issues. In an article of this short length, the goal is to provide a solid written introduction to the most fundamental search strategies and methods, and to some of the most useful search engines and sites. Every researcher’s approach will be different and personal.

Every effort has been made to verify and update site addresses. If sites mentioned in this article cannot be found using the addresses given here, use one of the sites with links to other sites or one of the search engines listed in Appendix 1 to try to locate it.

The Need for a Focused Strategy

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