Bar News - October 19, 2007
New Lawyers Column Internet Tools for Attorneys
By: David M. Hilts
David M. Hilts
Today’s attorneys have a significant advantage over their predecessors in having access to the Internet. The wide availability of information on the Internet can increase the breadth and accuracy of legal advice and simultaneously cut down on legal costs. In this article, I will identify and describe several of the no-cost Web sites that I have found to be very useful in my own legal practice.
The New Hampshire government Web site at www.nh.gov is a treasure trove of useful information. If you’re looking for a free, searchable version of the State Constitution, Revised Statutes Annotated (“RSAs”), state agencies’ administrative rules, rules of the various courts of New Hampshire, Rules of Evidence or Rules of Professional Conduct, you need only follow the Laws and Rules link at the left of the page. If you’re looking for the Web site for a particular state agency, click on the State Agencies link at the right of the page. Click on the Judicial Branch link also at the right to access information about all the courts in the state, including directions to each, as well as some basic forms to use. The State Office Locator and the State Personnel Directory, both at the right of the page, will help you to find locations for state offices and contact information for state employees.
Of course, New Hampshire attorneys have access to federal and state statutes and case law on Casemaker, a free service provided by the New Hampshire Bar Association on its Web site: www.nhbar.org. As a backup option, the U.S. Government Printing Office maintains a searchable version of the U.S. Code at www.gpoaccess.gov/uscode/index.html. The GPO also maintains a searchable Web page for the Code of Federal Regulations (“CFRs”) at www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr/index.html. If knowledge of local ordinances is required, the State Office of Energy and Planning maintains a Web page of municipalities with on-line regulations at www.nh.gov/oep/resourcelibrary/referencelibrary/m/mlurdatabasereports/municipalonlineregulations.htm. In an admittedly shameless plug for my alma mater, I cite the Emory University School of Law, which also maintains a Web site for Links to Useful State Law & Government Pages for all 50 states and territories at www.law.emory.edu/index.php?id=2530.
Let’s say you have the applicable law fully researched and you’re ready to file suit. How do you find whom to serve and where they may be located? If you’re looking for an individual, try www.switchboard.com or www.zabasearch.com. Switchboard.com even has reverse phone number and reverse address search options. If you’re looking for whom to serve on behalf of a corporation or similar entity, try the Secretary of State Corporate Division at www.sos.nh.gov/corporate and click on Business Name Lookup at the left of the page. Once you follow the links to the appropriate entity listing, click at the Filed Documents link at the top of the page in order to access annual and other filings that may reveal registered agents and officers.
Looking for a licensed professional engineer, architect, professional geologist or land surveyor as a potential expert witness or wondering whether an opponent’s expert is licensed? The New Hampshire Joint Board of Licensure and Certification maintains a searchable database of licensees and certificate holders at www.nh.gov/jtboard/home.htm.
There is a multitude of useful Web sites for real estate practitioners to be found on the Internet. Counties having index-searchable Registries of Deeds may be found at www.nhdeeds.com. Although access to these Web sites is free at the outset, not all sites allow viewing of documents, and all charge to print documents. Check out www.visionappraisal.com/databases/nh/index.htm for links to municipalities with on-line, searchable assessor information. If you’re running a title and suspect that a bank merger has occurred, try the Federal Reserve System’s National Information Center at www.ffiec.gov/nicpubweb/nicweb/nichome.aspx. The Institution Search link at the center of the page may help you to find which bank has succeeded to the interest you’re tracking.
As with all information on the Internet, be aware that the information may not be current. Therefore, pay attention to information regarding the currency of information as stated on the Web site, try to confirm particularly time-sensitive information through multiple sources or rely upon the information at your own risk!
David M. Hilts is with the NH Attorney General’s office in Concord. He has been a member of the NH Bar since 2002. Dave is a member of the New Lawyers Committee and may be contacted at email@example.com.