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Minnesota's Roving Alces Americana

By Bill Jack, William Mitchell College of Law

Bill Jack, William Mitchell College of Law This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Association of Law Libraries (MALL) Newsletter, Vol. 29, No. 4 (January-February 2003) at 4-5. Reprinted on LawMoose with permission of the author and the publisher.

LawMoose continues to grow and to accumulate praise. Witness the LLRX review by at Kathy Biehl at http://www.llrx.com/columns/webcritic17.htm.

I have always liked LawMoose (http://www.lawmoose.com) for it's clean, slick, intuitive organization that lets me get quickly to resources that I need. But talk about a moose's roaming! You see the difference the moment you enter LawMoose. You now must choose your community, because LawMoose has created new "ecosystems" for both international materials and for Wisconsin materials. Wisconsin's "home page" in LawMoose resembles its Minnesota counterpart in layout and headings, but a look at the content shows that things have been specially tailored for the Wisconsin resources that are available. LawMoose offers three Wisconsin searches: Wisconsin courts, Wisconsin law schools, and Wisconsin law firms. You can also find links to legal forms and to a Wisconsin judges directory that presently includes Seventh Circuit and Wisconsin State appellate judges.

The Wisconsin "Super-Easy Search" lets you launch a search through Wisconsin law collections for any county or city in Wisconsin, via convenient pull-down selection lists. Given the difficult spelling of so many Wisconsin place names (e.g., Oconomowoc), those drop-down selection lists are particularly helpful. Select and click on the locality to receive locality-specific search results. Better yet, LawMoose offers integration between its search results and the Wisconsin Statutes. The "Find out more about" link at the bottom of each search results page provides the option to carry forward your search terms to the Wisconsin Statutes. Results come from the official statutes, not LawMoose. The "Find Out More About" link at the bottom of each page of search results now can also forward your search terms to the La Crosse Tribune articles index (provided by the La Crosse Public Library) and to the Wisconsin Public Radio web site.

The LawMoose World Legal Resource Center home page features "Super-Easy Search links" for each country of the world, as well as their capital cities, U.S. states, and Canadian provinces. This World Legal Resource Center serves as the logical successor to the former U.S. House of Representatives Internet Law Library (http://www.priweb.com/internetlawlib/1.htm) that Pritchard Law Webs "adopted" after the House of Representations abandoned it.

All three LawMoose communities (Minnesota, Wisconsin, the World) show expanded depth of coverage, but there's a lot of technological "added value" lurking beneath that smooth and clean surface. For instance, when you receive your LawMoose search results, you might notice an "AutoLink to MN Stats" link on the "Power Links" row. When you select a page with citations to Minnesota Statutes, you'll see that the statute citations are hyperlinked. The free Web doesn't get better than this. Now if we could only do that with cases that cite to other cases…..Well, the fault lies not with LawMoose, but with Minnesota's refusal to adopt the universal citation format for court opinions.

LawMoose has always pointed to links that are helpful for finding information on Minnesota judges, and has consistently organized those links in an easy-to-navigate order. But now, LawMoose has begun its own directory of Minnesota Judges. It includes judges in both federal and state courts as well as administrative courts. This new format groups judges according to the courts on which they sit. For each judge, you can launch predefined searches through the entirety of the Minnesota Legal Web, locate articles written by the judge, or locate articles written about the judge. If the judge has a profile page on the Web, LawMoose links you to it. LawMoose has also started maintaining an archive of press releases that relate to judicial appointments. (If you've ever tried to research a judge, you'll know the value of those press releases.) LawMoose has also added materials for long-time sitting judges.

But perhaps the biggest LawMoose benefit of all is the Minnesota Legal Periodicals Index. Wow. Where else in the world can you get a free database of over 19,297 articles (probably more than 60,000 pages) going back to the bygone days of 1984, with 797 live links to online articles, and 744 links to cases? We owe huge debts to Barb Golden and LaVern Pritchard for all their efforts on this.

If LawMoose came from any other state, I think we'd all be saying, "Why can't we have something like that here?" Well, we do, and it keeps getting better and better.


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