A review of the Internet’s best state bar and bar association Web sites.
By Erik J. Heels
First published 10/3/1996; Martindale.com “Legal Links”; publisher: Martindale-Hubbell
One year ago, it would not have been possible to make a top ten list of state bar and bar association Web sites. We have certainly come a long way! According to Alta Vista, the State Bar of California’s Web site is by far the most popular. But that is to be expected in a state with 30 million people. So after selecting the Web’s top ten list of state bar and bar association Web sites, and checking out the number of links to a particular site with Alta Vista, I rank-ordered the sites based on links per capita using population statistics from the United States Census Bureau. As a result, the State Bar of Wisconsin comes out on top. Enjoy, and see you on the Net!
1. State Bar of Wisconsin. “Serving the members of the State Bar of Wisconsin and the Public” is the goal proclaimed by this Web site. A great goal and a great Web site. The “What’s New” section contains a summary of the ABA’s backing of a vendor-neutral citation system as well as links to related documents. Also includes Wisconsin Supreme Court Decisions and member-only areas. Its organization is at times non-intuitive (e.g. information about citation reform is under “Technology”), and the addition of a search engine would definitely help. But overall, this site is great model for state bar associations considering getting on the Web. (http://www.wisbar.org/)
2. Tennessee Bar Association. The search engine (named “Page Finder”) is helpful, although the interface takes some getting used to. This site’s home page is a bit busy, and the major areas of the site have non-intuitive names (e.g. “Polling Place” and “Opinion-Flash”), but once you figure out what’s here, the site is very rich in content. For example, LawBytes is a consumer-oriented service that provides descriptions of the law in plain English. Attorneys will find Opinion-Flash (e-mail delivery of summaries of Tennessee appellate decisions and new Tennessee Supreme Court rules and orders) very useful. The site also includes member-only areas. (http://www.tba.org/)
3. Connecticut Bar Association. A simple structure with basic information easily accessible. Not much breadth, but there appears to be plans to add more content, including articles from the Connecticut Lawyer. (http://www.ctbar.org/)
4. North Carolina Bar Association. A few too many links on the home page, but the site includes some very interesting content, including a list of those who passed the 06/96 North Carolina bar exam. Also includes links to North Carolina Supreme Court decisions. (http://www.barlinc.org/)
5. Utah State Bar. The large photographic image on the home page is a bit of a distraction, and it does not serve as a clickable image map. Includes a simple searchable member directory database. (http://www.utahbar.org/)
6. Kentucky Bar Association. One of the first bar association Web sites. The use of blinking text via the “<blink>” tag on the home page is a distraction. Includes information on how to contact Legal Service and Pro Bono programs for those who cannot afford an attorney. (http://www.kybar.org/)
7. Washington State Bar Association. This site’s conservative use of graphics makes it perform very well. Includes a calendar of upcoming CLE seminars. (http://www.wsba.org/)
8. State Bar of California. A well organized site with something for lawyers, those who want to be lawyers, and those who need lawyers. Consumers should check out “An Illustrated Guide to the Complaint Process,” available in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. Includes a search engine interface on the home page, so no extra clicks are required if you want to search the site. (http://www.calbar.org/)
9. New York State Bar Association. A novel feature of this site, under “What’s New,” is a section about legal vendors who are advertising special deals for products and services to users of this site. (http://www.nysba.org/)
10. Illinois State Bar Association. In the name of full disclosure, I should mention that this is a Web site designed, developed, and hosted by Inherent.Com. Includes Illinois Supreme Court decisions and a member-only discussion group. (http://www.illinoisbar.org/)