Alternative Law Journal
by Cafe Banks and Heather Douglas; Federation Press 2000/Update;136 pp; $32.94.
Few lawyers would disagree that accurate and up-to-date legal research is essential to the survival of the modem practitioner. While most of us know that the Internet will most likely have the answer to almost every question we would care to ask, few of us in our time-poor workdays can justify the luxury of surfing the web to discover its hidden (and free) riches. Internet search engines are often idiosyncratic and frustrating, while not all practitioners have, or have kept up to date, with the necessary searching techniques to undertake intricate online searches.
This is where Law on the Internet by Cate Banks and Heather Douglas, both of Griffith University's Law Faculty Queensland comes in. This thought fully devised and compact book will facilitate your going directly to the web address that will serve you best. What ever you are looking for - general sites, universities, parliaments, legislation, governments, courts and tribunals, legal aid, law reform or some subject specific site-and whoever you are- experienced or inexperienced Internet
user, practitioner, academic, student or consumer of legal services - this book should provide you with the perfect starting point for your research, if not the answer itself. The book adopts a refreshingly direct approach to utilising the vast resources of the web. It does not attempt to teach search methods and skills but, rather, operates on the basis that, having done all the hard work for you in directing you immediately to the most relevant site, the ease of use of the sites themselves (and the useful links they contain) will do the rest for you. Even so, there is just enough information in the book's Introduction to familiarise, even the most novice of surfers, with the language of net.
Law on the Internet is divided into three parts: Part One provides the list of useful general sites; Part Two sets out the institutional sites; while Part Three organises sites into law subject headings such as 'Consumer Law', 'Family Law and Children', 'Taxation and Revenue' and 'Workplace and Employment Law', with useful cross-referencing between subject areas. For each site listed, information has been provided on the name and address of the site, the most relevant information to be found on the site and, where it has been provided by the site-operators, the vital information on how frequently the site is updated. The authors have been discerning in their choice of sites and have limited their inclusions to those which provide the most useful information or the most useful links to other sites. In keeping with the overall desire to be as immediately useful as possible, generally only free (non-subscriber) sites have been included. The promise made in the book that it will be updated on the publisher's website has been kept (the first update appeared in July 2000: see <http://www.fedpress.aust.com/> ); another example of the thought that has gone into this project.
Law on the Internet is a handy guide to be kept beside your computer at all times. Unquestionably, it will take the frustration out of making the net work for you when you need it to do so.
Sally Kift teaches law at Queensland University of Technology.