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Litigation and Technology: How the Internet Is Changing the Practice

NCJ Number
Federal Lawyer Volume: 47 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2000 Pages: 25-28
Jonathan M. Redgrave
Date Published
January 2000
4 pages
This article identifies recent Internet innovations and discusses how they are changing legal practice.
Generally, the Internet is useful for beginning a search for information, persons, and corporations. Information that once required numerous phone calls and several days to receive is now available at the touch of a mouse. Also, new web sites are offering alternatives to the expensive research services traditionally offered by giant vendors; for example, attorneys can now download many Federal cases directly from the Internet. In addition to being an excellent research tool, the Internet can help attorneys resolve basic litigation issues; for example, locating potential parties and ascertaining where to file a lawsuit can be done quickly and efficiently from the convenience of the office. One of the first legal issues involving the Internet has been whether particular Internet activities create sufficient minimum contacts with a jurisdiction to allow the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the person or corporation in a particular State. The courts have generally addressed this issue by dividing Internet activities into three categories: activities that involve conducting business, activities that involve posting information, and activities that involve using interactive web sites to exchange information with a computer host. Any State in which a party engages in Internet activities of a business nature may qualify as a proper forum for a lawsuit. Once an actual lawsuit is being pursued, the Internet is fertile ground for factual research on the case and the parties involved. Security technology is now available for establishing private web sites that are accessible only to outside counsel, in-house counsel, and/or clients. Such a web site is an access point to centralized databases of work product and case documents. The author recommends that anyone who plans to practice law into the next decade consider attending one of the many conferences being sponsored on the Internet and the law. 15 notes