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Paralegal Studies
This website contains information on searching legal websites using Google and Yahoo
 

Searching in Google

Many legal professions have a favorite search engine.  Skillful searching requires that you, the paralegal, know how to use a variety of search tools.

For example, Google's web directory  indexes law topics under "Society" while Yahoo's web directory  categories law topics under, "Directory search - Government". 

If you don't know what jurisdiction your case is from but you know the names of the parties in a case, you can try using Google or Yahoo. If you know the names of both parties in the case, using any of the major search engines should work fairly well.

Construct your search using quotes and all lower case letters, i.e. "brown v. board of education". You can also try using keywords from the case, i.e. bowers and hardwick and privacy and supreme court. If one search engine doesn't find it, try another. If two or three are unable to find it, your case may not be on the Web.

Advanced searching in Google

I have had so many students say to me, " I like Google because it finds everything".
the librarian in me winced. I do not want to dampen his enthusiasm but I could not let this go unchallenged.
 
As a paralegal, you may be tempted to use Google and Yahoo to find legal information.  Try finding for example, websites devoted to the municipal bond law OR education law in Yahoo.  What is the result? How many hits to do you get?
 
Legal professionals sometimes complain that they cannot locate information on the Web.  In this situation, you will have to apply a few helpful strategies. 
 
For instance, my stepmother is in the hospital for Alzheimer's.  You need to track down the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services position on the use of tranquilizers to sedate an elderly Alzheimer's hospital patient who becomes anxious at night and roams the night. You want to know whether the use of this drug violates the patients rights. What do you do?
 
First step: You could go directly to the CMMS website http://cms.hhs.gov. but the homepage fails to offer obvious links like "guidelines" or "patients rights".  Further drilling down into the website is time consuming.
 
Instead of using the CMMS's website, you might want to go to Google. Use the advanced search feature.  Locate the "find" option for querying "all" words and enter any of the suggested search statements:
  • drugs Alzheimer patient
  • drugs hospital patient
  • drugs patient
  • drugs restrain
  • drugs restraint

Before pressing the Google search key, locate the "domains" field. Select "only" return results and enter the domain of the agency (in this case it is .gov). The first website will give you the recommended dosages.

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