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Legal Research Fundamentals


Law Firms and Litigation

Recently, a number of companies have begun to develop tools to demonstrate larger trends in litigation. This is an area that we expect to see a lot of development in the next few years. But here are some resources that already exist!

Finding People Internationally

Finding people internationally can be a much bigger challenge than locating them within the US, since a lot of these tools will not provide information beyond US borders. If you need to locate someone for purposes of serving legal processes, seizing assets, or similar purposes, you may need to hire in-country investigators. You may also need to avail yourself of the special processes and pathways provided by various treaties and agreements between the US and the host country. For help getting started, see the US State Department's pages on international judicial assistance.

However, if you're just trying to find contact information, you can get pretty far with creative Googling. Here are a few frequently-useful strategies:

  • Governments, universities and other public organizations often have directories, which may not be crawled by Google but can be searched internally. For example, you can search for an Australian government employee by name or find staff by department in Australia's Government Directory.
  • Many governments are moving toward open access to information, and have "transparency" or "open government" portals which will link you to the contact information for agencies and their employees, e.g. the United Kingdom's Open Government Partnership
  • Speakers and presenters will often put email addresses or other contact information on the documents they present at meetings, symposia, colloquia, etc. If you can find evidence of your party's having presented at an event, look for any websites related to the event and see if documents are available there. Another way to find these documents are to search for the person's name and/or the title of the presentation, plus filetype:.pdf or filetype:.ppt.

Dockets and Specific Documents

For some courts, you can locate a court website. There may be dockets freely available. 

Expert Witnesses

You should also search for an expert witness's scholarship in other databases, such as 

Public Records

Other vendors, such as Westlaw, also have Public Records databases --law students do not have access to them. Ask your employer if they have access to a public records system. Alternatively, determine where the public records you need are kept (Google should solve this most of the time). Then contact the appropriate office to retrieve them.