Bacal's Internet Legal Research Guide

A Search Example

When you have a particular factual and legal topic to search, where should you start? Let’s examine this through an example. Assume you have a lawsuit against Blackhat Corporation involving alleged theft of trade secret chemical formulas. Here’s one example of how one might investigate Blackhat:

General and News Directories

You can begin by searching some company directories (like Dun & Bradstreet or Hoover’s) to see if you can get information about the Blackhat company. With respect to gathering company information, don’t be cheap. Databases like Hoover’s may charge a small monthly fee for full access, but you gain immediate access to a lot of valuable information (e.g., company history, officers and salaries, website information, competitors, financials, etc.). Dun & Bradstreet usually provides more up-to-date financial information than other databases. Bloomberg News provides corporate information via its website at A researcher might conduct a search on the CNN website for recent stories about Blackhat ( One could also use the National Law Journal’s search directories for legal news stories about Blackhat and about trade secrets generally (

Research Aids

The researcher might also want to see what’s on the web regarding trade secrets. You might start at Washburn University School of Law main page ( , a virtual law library reference desk, which provides very useful links to all types of legal works and information. Another great site to start with is Villanova’s Internet Legal Research Compass (

Then you might look at Mark Halligan’s Trade Secrets Home Page at for recent developments in trade secret law, including a regularly updated list of new cases. You might also use one of the "category matches" under Yahoo for intellectual property (e.g., government law, business and economy companies, regional, etc.). And you might look to see if there are any recent articles on trade secrets in any intellectual property magazines or journals that are available online. One such magazine is’s IP Practice Center ( Many lists of recommended journals and magazines appear at various lawyer websites, such as at Kuesterlaw ( The number of law journals with free full text on the Internet is still very small, so don’t have great expectations in that regard. Most journals provide only their tables of contents and subscription information on the Internet, while a handful provide full text or full text of selected articles. One of the best lists of law-related journals that have presentations on the Internet is found at The Internet Lawyer’s Legal Newsstand™ (


Next, you could float questions in certain usenet newsgroups about experiences with Blackhat Corporation and its lawyers, if you know who they are. These newsgroups are like bulletin boards where people can put articles and information on selected topics. There still aren’t many legal newsgroups. You should probably try to use here.

Specific Sites

Finally, you could look to see if Blackhat and its lawyers have their own sites on the Internet. To find a Blackhat website, one might use ( or one might search an Internet domain name/owner search directory. Occasionally, you can glean valuable information about a company’s position on legal issues from visiting the company’s homepage. Some businesses will track important company events, including litigation updates, on their websites. Finally, one should check to see if Blackhat’s counsel has its own website; in Appendix 1, there is a list of over a dozen sites that a researcher could use to find law firms and lawyers who are on the web.

Final Words of Wisdom

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