The Texas Probate Web Site

 

LEGAL RESEARCH ON THE INTERNET

By

Joseph G. Hodges, Jr.
Attorney at Law, Denver, Colorado
jghodges@iex.net

and

Glenn M. Karisch
Barnes & Karisch, P. C., Austin, Texas
karisch@texasprobate.net

Copyright 1999 By Joseph G. Hodges, Jr., and Glenn M. Karisch, All Rights Reserved

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AMERICAN COLLEGE OF TRUST AND ESTATE COUNSEL
1999 Annual Meeting

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Contents

I. INTRODUCTION

II. INTERNET BASICS
A. Connecting to the Internet
1. Personal Modem Connection
2. ISDN
3. T1
4. Cable Modems, Satellite Connections, Etc.
B. Basic Internet Features
1. Email
2. Web Browsing
C. Using the Internet to Communicate With Others

III. USING THE INTERNET FOR LEGAL RESEARCH
A. Free Research
1. The World Wide Web
2. Email Mailing Lists
B. Fee-Based Research
C. A Strategy for Researching on the Internet

IV. CONCLUSION

APPENDIX A -- FACT SITUATIONS FOR DISCUSSION
APPENDIX B -- FEDERAL AND TAX RESOURCES
APPENDIX C -- STATE LAW LINKS
APPENDIX D -- INTERNET LEGAL RESEARCH RESOURCE MATERIALS
APPENDIX E -- GLOSSARY OF TECHNICAL TERMS

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LEGAL RESEARCH ON THE INTERNET

I. INTRODUCTION

It has become virtually impossible for a lawyer not to become caught in the Internet -- or, more particularly, the World Wide Web. Even if an attorney is not personally a surfer, the Internet's ever-growing network of interconnected, interrelated information is becoming the principal means of distributing information. Lawyers essentially are in the information business -- using their knowledge of the law and the facts to effectively represent their clients. Lawyers must have a way to access information to properly do their jobs. This is particularly true with ACTEC Fellows, who have an even greater need for current, accurate information about their area of practice since they are at the top of their profession.

This paper attempts to do two things. First, it provides a traditional, textual discussion of some of the basics of accessing and using the Internet. Experienced Internet users may safely skip this section. Second, and more importantly, it provides a departure point for web-based legal research in the estate and trust law areas.

Technical terms which are italicized in this paper are defined in the glossary attached to this paper as Appendix E.

II. INTERNET BASICS

The Internet is a largely unregulated web of computers (and computer users) which are connected together (through phone lines, local area networks (LANs) and high-speed connections) and share information. The Internet began in academia and the military but has become increasingly commercial in nature.

A. Connecting to the Internet

The first step in using the Internet is getting one's computer connected. Some computers are connected full-time to the Internet. Most law firms and other small businesses and individuals do not have full-time connections to the Internet, however.(1) Persons who are not connected full-time directly to the Internet access the Internet (usually by a telephone line) through the services of an Internet service provider (ISP).

There are national and local ISPs. The largest and best known ISP is America Online. Each city and most towns also have local companies which provide services. For example, one of the authors uses Illuminati Online (io.com), an Austin company providing ISP services in Austin and Houston.

Here are the most common ways to connect to the Internet through an ISP:

1. Personal Modem Connection

Traditionally,(2) most users connect to an ISP through a modem located in or attached to the user's personal computer. A modem is a device which makes it possible to send a computer's digital information over traditional analog telephone lines (plain old telephone service, or POTS). To connect in this way, the user must establish a dial-up account with an ISP. This usually costs around $20-30 per month for unlimited (or, at least, a high number of hours of) use.

Once the account is established, the user causes his or her modem to dial the ISP's local telephone number (to avoid long-distance charges) and, after an electronic handshake (the high-pitched noise that computers and fax machines make over the telephone line when connecting) the user enters his username and password (or has his or her computer automatically enter such information).

In order to have full access to the Internet, including all those pretty Web pages, the user must have a SLIP or PPP connection. Without SLIP/PPP, the user usually is limited to electronic mail (email) and a few other hard-to-use services with no graphical user interface (GUI). In the old days (say, a year or so ago), it was a chore to properly set up a SLIP/PPP connection. Now, Windows 95 and 98 users can do so quickly and easily using software that is bundled (sold along with for no extra price) with Windows. This bundling drives Microsoft competitors out of business and is something we will all probably come to regret when Bill Gates becomes emperor, but it does make getting a full connection to the Internet easier.

Because a computer thinks and talks in a digital language and traditional POTS telephone lines carry analog information, the digital-to-analog-to-digital translation which must occur imposes technical problems and a fair amount of unpredictability. Modems on each end must not only convert and transmit (or receive) the data, but they must confirm with each other that the correct data was sent and received.

The fastest modems generally available are 56K modems, which theoretically can download from an ISP at speeds approaching 56,000 bytes of information per second and upload at up to 31,200 bytes per second. Due to FCC regulations and real-life conditions, actual performance never reaches these theoretical limits. Also, not all POTS telephone lines can support 56K transmissions.

2. ISDN

Some firms and high-end individual users have switched to Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) access to their ISPs. ISDN lines transmit digital information, making it unnecessary to use a modem to translate digital information to analog and back. ISDN lines provide two paired lines ("B" lines), each capable of carrying 64,000 bytes of information per second. If both B lines are used together to connect to an ISP, 128,000 bytes of information per second may be transmitted. Because the signal remains digital, there is little or no degradation. Thus, 128K transmissions are more than theoretically possible. ISDN uses copper lines, just like POTS lines, but a special installation is necessary. Also, ISDN lines are slightly more expensive than POTS lines. ISPs usually charge more for an ISDN connection than for a modem connection.

To use an ISDN line, the user must have an ISDN terminal. These terminals, which are similar to modems, used to be quite expensive but now cost little more than a modem.

Many small businesses install ISDN routers on their local area networks (LANs). These routers, which contain the ISDN terminal, are available for $400 -- $900. They enable everyone on the network to share an ISDN line for Internet access. Like a server, the router determines how to allocate the bandwidth (the transmission capacity) among the users. Bandwidth is allocated only while a user is uploading or downloading information. Thus, even though four persons may be using the Internet at once, chances are they are not simultaneously downloading and/or uploading very often. When there is no simultaneous use, the entire 128K bandwidth is allocated to the person using it -- meaning that his or her performance more than doubles a 56K modem. Even if four persons were uploading or downloading at the same instant, each would be allocated approximately 31K of bandwidth -- comparable to a 34K modem.

Here is a cost breakdown on a recent ISDN installation for a law firm with four attorneys:

One Time Charges

Amount

ISDN Service Connection Charge (Southwestern Bell) $78.60
ISDN Installation Charge (Southwestern Bell) (24-month contract -- with no contract, installation is $250.00, with one-year contract, $125.00) 0.00
ISDN LAN Router (Shiva AccessPort 2.0) 695.00
Dial-up ISDN Internet Access -- ISP Installation Charge (Illuminati Online) 100.00
Total One-Time Charges 873.600

Monthly Charges

Amount

ISDN Monthly Service (Southwestern Bell) $52.27
Dial-up ISDN Internet Access -- ISP (Illuminati Online) 85.00
Total Monthly Charges 137.270

This arrangement permitted the firm to avoid the need for modems on individual computers (a one-time savings of approximately $300), the installation of up to four dedicated POTS lines for modem use (Southwestern Bell charges slightly less than $50.00 per month per POTS line, plus installation charges) and maintenance of multiple Internet accounts at the ISP (approximately $20.00 per month per account). This arrangement also allows everyone in the office to access the Internet (not just the attorneys with modems) at average connection rates which are much higher than if each person connected via a modem.

3. T1

Very large firms (or firms fortunate enough to office in buildings where ISPs are located) sometimes connect to the Internet through a T1 connection. These firms are, in essence, hot-wired to the Internet. The cost of such a connection is prohibitive for all but the largest firms.

4. Cable Modems, Satellite Connections, Etc.

The race is on to provide increased bandwidth at a low cost. Telephone companies, cable television companies, electronics companies and start-up businesses all are approaching the bandwidth issue from different directions, and new high-speed means of accessing the Internet are appearing frequently.

Cable television companies have emerged near the front of the pack, largely due to their already-extensive network of cable TV lines. Cable modems and corresponding Internet service is now available in many areas at $40 -- $50 per month. These connections are much faster than anything currently moving over traditional telephone lines, including ISDN.

Not to be outdone, telephone companies are coming up with ways to send more data over traditional phone lines, and some have begun to offer connections faster than ISDN in limited areas.

Given the rapidly changing nature of state-of-the-art Internet access, it pays to investigate what is available in a particular locale and to avoid large investments in hardware -- which may be outdated in a matter of months, rather than years. For example, the up-front costs of an ISDN router discussed above -- seemingly a sound investment just months ago -- may be unwise if a cheaper, faster connection via a cable modem or similar product is now available.

B. Basic Internet Features

Once a novice is connected to the Internet, there are two basic features that get the most use -- email and web browsing.

1. Email

Electronic mail (email) is a means to send messages from one computer to another over a network. There are both internal email systems, permitting the members of a local area network (LAN) to pass messages to each other, and external systems, permitting computer users to exchange messages over long distances, usually over the Internet. This paper focuses on email on the Internet, not for intra office messaging over a LAN.

Email permits quick, free (if one doesn't count the cost of having an account with an ISP) transmission of messages and computer files worldwide. It usually takes less than two minutes for a message to get from the sending computer to anywhere in the United States.

To send and receive email, the user must have an account with an ISP and an email client program (a client program is what the end user uses to send and receive information to a server). Email client programs come bundled with the two free web browser programs -- Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer. In addition, there are other free programs, like industry leader Eudora Light. Once these client programs are configured with the right information to communicate with the server program at the ISP, they can send and receive email.

To use email, one must have a basic understanding of Internet naming conventions. Email addresses typically follow the format username@domain.com. The username is a unique name that the user selects (or is assigned by the ISP). The domain is either the ISP's name (such as AOL for America Online) or another domain. For $70, anyone can register a domain name and, so long as no one else picked it first, he or she can use that domain. To send email, one must know the proposed recipient's email address.

One of the key features of email is the ability to attach files to email messages. This comes in very handy. For example, assume that a pleading must be filed today in a city 200 miles away. Local counsel can handle the filing, but the pleading is on the computer at the home office. By emailing the file to local counsel, the pleading can be printed, signed and filed quickly.

Another key feature of email is the ability to easily respond to, and quote from, a prior message. Suppose John sends Sally the following message:

To: sally@aol.com

From: john@io.com

Subject: Dinner Saturday night?

How about having dinner with me Saturday night?

John

To respond to the message, Sally merely needs to hit the "Reply" button, and she is presented with a screen similar to this:

To: john@io.com

From: sally@aol.com

Subject: Re: Dinner Saturday night?

On 6/5/98, you wrote:

>How about having dinner with >me Saturday night?
>
>John

It is a very simple matter for Sally to type her reply and send the response:

To: john@io.com

From: sally@aol.com

Subject: Re: Dinner Saturday night?

Sorry, John, I'm rearranging my sock drawer Saturday night.

Sally

On 6/5/98, you wrote:

>How about having dinner with >me Saturday night?
>
>John

The ability to string responses together helps keep things straight if the email equivalent of telephone tag ensues.

2. Web Browsing

Web browsing is such a huge economic force in the United States that the Justice Department is suing Microsoft over the way in which it bundles its web browser, Internet Explorer, with Windows 98. Businesses, institutions and individuals around the world have placed millions of pages of information available for public viewing on the Internet, and a web browser is the way computer users explore that information.

To browse the Web, one needs either Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer. Both programs currently are available free of charge. The web browser understands web addresses, which typically follow the format "www.domain.com." By typing in "www.microsoft.com," or by simply clicking the mouse on a link to www.microsoft.com, the web browser displays the main page at Microsoft Corporation, which in turn provides links to many other pages.

The World Wide Web truly is a web -- the browser can follow links from one site to the next by simply clicking the mouse. This linking is the key to using the Internet for legal research. It permits an attorney to use an individual path to the information. Links make it unnecessary for massive amounts of duplicate data to be stored at many separate sites. Merely including a link to a site with the data provides a means for ready access. Links also mean that researchers need not follow a strict hierarchal scheme when doing research.

C. Using the Internet to Communicate With Others

Increasingly clients and attorneys are using email as a primary method of communication. Workers in the high-tech industry rely heavily on email. Email in 1999 is a lot like fax machines in 1990 or so -- things have just about gotten to the point where it is shocking to find an attorney who does not have (and know how to use) email. Just like with fax machines, there are a few holdouts, but the time is not far off that it will be inconceivable to practice law without email.

Here are some ways attorneys can use email to communicate with others more effectively:

Email is not the only way to communicate with others over the Internet. Some firms are establishing an "extranet" so that persons given permission can access information on the firm's computer over the Internet. An extranet is a site on the Internet which permits persons outside the LAN password access to protected parts of the site. For example, the ACTEC web site (www.actec.org) has an extranet -- a members-only area which nonmembers cannot access. Law firms can use an extranet to keep clients informed about pending matters. For example, if a law firm represents a number of insurance companies on multiple insurance defense matters, it can give its clients password-protected access to certain information, such as case status, pleadings, deposition transcripts, etc. The insurance adjuster could go to the law firm's site, enter the appropriate password, and see the information without having to bother the attorney or the firm's support staff.

Most ISPs can permit password protection of a portion of the site, enabling an extranet. Password and username maintenance can be a problem if the client base changes frequently, however.

III. USING THE INTERNET FOR LEGAL RESEARCH

Huge amounts of information are available on the Internet. Unfortunately, access to that information is spotty, at least when using free services.

A. Free Research

Not too many years ago, everything on the web was free. Any attempt at commercialization on the web was greeted with derision among the relatively small number of techies who roamed the Internet.

Today the web is a commercial place. Companies sell access to the Internet, hardware and software to use the Internet, information on the Internet and just about every item of merchandise one can imagine. Despite commercialization, most of the information and services on the Internet remain free (assuming one does not count the cost of connecting to the Internet). While there are a number of fee-based services available on the Internet, much is available without paying a fee to the person or company posting the information.

1. The World Wide Web

The key to finding information on the Internet is the World Wide Web, and the key to finding information on the World Wide Web are hypertext links. Attached as appendices to this paper is a table showing giving links to a number of sites on the Web. Appendix "B" lists selected federal and tax law links. Appendix "C" lists numerous state law links. Appendix "D" includes reference materials and other links of interest.

Reading these appendices on paper fails to illustrate the full impact of the web on legal research. On the one hand, descriptions of the links may make it appear that all knowledge is available for free at the click of a mouse. On the other hand, the textual descriptions tend to understate the power of the web to quickly find certain information. Only by accessing these appendices in a web browser and following the links can one really get a feel for how amazing and frustrating the web can be.

The amazing part of the web is apparent almost immediately when one begins clicking on links. The frustrating part of the web arises from two sources. First, no one organizes the web, so getting a particular piece of information can be time-consuming and/or impossible. Second, information is available only if some person or organization deems it worthwhile to make that information available. Government sites may make information available as part of its public service commitment. Companies, including law firms, financial firms and book publishers, may make information available as a way to generate increased business. Other companies may make information available as a means to make money through sales of advertising. Individuals may make information available because of an avid interest in a particular subject. Luckily, these various motivations for making information available have resulted in vast bodies of knowledge accessible by the Internet. Unfortunately, there are gaps in these bodies of knowledge.

2. Email Mailing Lists

In addition to resources available on the Web, email mailing lists can be a valuable source of substantive information for lawyers. The two best lists for ACTEC fellows are the ABA-PTL list and the ACTEC-GEN list. Information on subscribing to both lists is included in the appendix.

B. Fee-Based Research

Due to the still-spotty resources available for free over the Internet, it probably remains necessary to have an account with Westlaw, LEXIS and similar services to fill in the gaps. Most of these services --including services which traditionally were accessed via dial-up connections -- are available over the Internet.

There are two reasons current dial-up customers may wish to access Westlaw, LEXIS and similar services over the Internet rather than by a dial-up connection. First, the Internet connection probably is faster, especially if a 56K modem is used. Second, it is unnecessary to hang up the line to the ISP (disconnecting from the Internet) in order to access the service, and vice versa. This becomes more significant as email becomes as ubiquitous as faxes.

C. A Strategy for Researching on the Internet

There are certain basic steps that ought to be followed in developing and pursuing a legal research project using the Internet. Those steps should include the following:

  1. Identify the key facts and search terms and likely legal analysis. Test those terms in some of the more popular search engines to see if they will produce any reliable results.
  2. Choose the "finding" tools you want to use, those being either general (search engines) or key legal research starting points.
  3. Plan your search strategy so you can minimize your on-line time.
  4. Find your information. Use all the available Internet resources, including starting points, legal-specific search tools and e-mail discussion groups.
  5. Evaluate the relative merits and reliability of the results you obtained.
  6. If need be, follow up with on-line verification of the proper citations and the current status of all cases and rulings you found using either the Lexis-Nexis or the Westlaw databases, both of which are now accessible via the Web for less than it costs to do that with their own proprietary software.

IV. CONCLUSION

The Internet is becoming increasingly important to attorneys. With a little effort, it can be a resource, not a burden.

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APPENDIX A -- FACT SITUATIONS FOR DISCUSSION

Fact Situation No. One - The Pre-1977 Joint Tenancy

Let's assume we have just been retained by Jack Flowers to represent the estate of his wife, June, who passed away last September survived by Jack and their adult son, John. June's Will is a simple Will that gives all her property to Jack if he survives her by 30 days (which he did), else to her son, John, and Jack is named to act as the Personal Representative. Her total gross estate is worth $800,000, and this includes her half interest in their home, which they acquired as joint tenants in 1974 with the net proceeds from the deferred capital gain sale of Jack's premarital home. Jack has always made all the payments on the mortgage and paid for all the repairs and improvements. The adjusted cost basis of the home on June's date of death was $50,000, and its fair market value was $200,000.

The main question that needs to be researched and answered in connection with the preparation of the Federal Estate Tax Return for June's estate is whether the home will qualify for a 100% date of death cost basis adjustment, or something less than that, and, if the latter, whether Jack can disclaim his joint tenant survivorship interest in the same and let it pass to his son, as Jack's own separate estate is now worth $1,800,000.

Jack has recently read in the Wall Street Journal about the1992 Gallenstein case, in which it was held that the definition of qualified joint interests in IRC Sec. 2040(b)(2) that was made by the 1981 amendments did not expressly or impliedly repeal the effective date of IRC Sec. Sec. 2040(b)(2) dealing with Qualified Joint Interests between spouses, with the result that it does not apply to spousal joint interests created before January 1, 1977. Thus, if the spouse who dies first has supplied all the consideration for the purchase, a full 100% basis step-up occurs at the death of the contributing spouse.

Here the initial question is if that same result can be obtained when it is the noncontributing spouse who dies first. Jack remembers reading in a WSJ article recently that the Gallenstein case had been followed in a recent 1998 Tax Court case named Hahn v Comm'r, and that the Fourth Circuit has also followed the Sixth Circuit Gallenstein case, but he can not remember the name of that case [it was Patten v US - 1997].

A secondary question is, if the home is not eligible for a full 100% step-up in basis, and since Jack's own separate estates is now worth $1,800,000, does it make sense for Jack to disclaim his survivorship interest in the property, assuming he can, and let it pass to his son, John, free of gift or estate tax, and then have Jack buy back John's undivided one-half interest in the home back from John at its current fair market value. This, by necessity, will require an examination of the joint tenancy laws in Jack's home state of Colorado and the applicable federal and state disclaimer statutes.

In addition, Jack and John want to know if, assuming he and John end up being co-owners of the house, will a discount be available for that property in the first decedent's estate.

We will attempt to research and analyze all three of these issues using several of the Internet and related research sources and technologies that are currently available to us.

Fact Situation No. Two - Multi-State Trust

Now let's assume that you represent Stillwater State Bank, an Oklahoma state bank with trust powers. You have helped the trust department out of many jams in the past, and while you don't do all of their trust work, they tend to call you when there's a real mess on their hands. Sydney Steinfeld, senior vice president and trust officer, called to tell you that the bank has a line on a significant new piece of trust business -- all seven current beneficiaries of three large trusts created by the founder of Tasty-Fruity, Inc. have agreed that they want to split each trusts so that there are separate trusts for each beneficiary. The settlor of the trusts lived in Ohio, and the trusts now are being administered by Big Blue Bank of Cleveland. Mr. Steinfeld tells you that Big Blue has agreed to resign as trustee in exchange for a release from all seven beneficiaries. Two of the seven beneficiaries live in Oklahoma, and both would like Stillwater State Bank to take over as successor trustee of their severed trusts. The combined trust estates of these two beneficiaries' severed trusts will be approximately $27,000,000.

After meeting with Mr. Steinfeld and a review of the trust documents, you discover that the seven beneficiaries all are the settlor's great-grandchildren and, in addition to being current income beneficiaries, all are contingent remaindermen of the three trusts -- each will take his/her share upon attaining the age of fifty (50) years. Here is a breakdown of the beneficiaries:

Name Age State of Domicile
Albert 44 Ohio
Betsy 41 Oklahoma
Charles 40 Colorado
Doris 37 Texas
Edward 37 Oklahoma
Frances 31 Wisconsin
Greg 27 Alaska

Betsy and Edward want Stillwater State Bank to be their successor trustee. Greg wants Notell State Bank of Alaska to be his trustee. The other four beneficiaries want Ski City Bank of Colorado to be their successor trustee. The corpus of the trusts is primarily in stocks and bonds. However, Betsy and Edward (who are brother and sister) want the trustee to buy a "ranch" in the western mountain states with a portion of the trust corpus -- exactly where, they haven't decided.

Mr. Steinfeld says that Ski City Bank sees no problem with taking over as successor trustee for Big Blue and splitting the trusts nonjudicially under Colorado law. After the split, Stillwater would take over as successor trustee of Betsy's and Edward's trusts following Ski City's resignation with respect to those trusts. Mr. Steinfeld is dying to get this business, but he doesn't want the bank to be exposed.

A review of the trusts shows that one of the three trusts has no choice of law clause and no provision for resignation of a trustee or appointment of successor trustees. Another of the trusts has an Ohio choice of law clause but no provision for resignation of the trustee or appointment of successor trustees. The last trust has no choice of law clause and a provision permitting the trustee to resign and for any "court of competent jurisdiction" to appoint a successor. Each of the trust instruments is silent about splitting trusts.

The beneficiaries are somewhat upset with Big Blue, but they are willing to give a release in exchange for Big Blue's cooperation in resigning as trustee. Big Blue is willing to resign, but they would like to avoid getting involved in the trust split, appointment of successor trustees, etc.

The first issue to address is the proper procedure for appointing a successor trustee of the trusts upon Big Blue's resignation. What does Ohio law provide? Is there an argument that another state's laws should apply? Which state (of the states in which the beneficiaries reside) would be the best state to handle the resignation and appointment issue? Is there a way to handle the resignation/appointment without involving Big Blue as a party?

The second issue involves splitting the trusts. Does Ohio law permit splitting trusts? Can it be done nonjudicially? Do any of the other relevant states (the states in which the beneficiaries live) permit nonjudicial division of trusts?

Finally, if Ski City goes ahead with its plan to nonjudicially split the trusts and is willing to resign as trustee of Betsy's and Edward's severed trusts, can Stillwater State Bank safely take over as successor trustees, or must they question the validity of Big Blue's/Ski City's actions?

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APPENDIX B -- FEDERAL AND TAX RESOURCES

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APPENDIX C -- STATE LAW LINKS

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APPENDIX D -- INTERNET LEGAL RESEARCH RESOURCE MATERIALS

Josh Blackman, "How to Use The Internet for Legal Research" (1996) published by Find/SVP

Diana Botluk, "The Legal List: Research on the Internet" (1997 Ed.) published by West Group

http://store.westgroup.com

Arleen L. Eis, "Directory of Law-Related CD-ROMs 1999" (1999) published by InfoSources Publishing

http://www.infosourcespub.com

Stephen Elias and Susan Levinkind, "Legal Research: How to Find and Understand the Law" (6th Ed. 1998) published by Nolo Press

http://www.nolo.com

Stephen Elias and Susan Levinkind, "Legal Research Online and in the Library" (1998) published by Nolo Press

Daniel B. Evans, "Wills, Trusts and Technology: An Estate Lawyer's Guide to Automation" (1996) published jointly by the ABA RPPT and LPM Sections

http://www.abanet.org/rppt/catalog/ptindex.html

http://www.abanet.org/lpm/catalog/home.html

James Evans, "Law on the Net" (2nd Ed. 1997) published by Nolo Press

James Evans, "Government on the Net" (1998) published by Nolo Press

Joseph G. Hodges Jr., "The Internet for the Trusts and Estates Lawyer" (Dec. 1997)

http://members.iex.net/~jghodges/t&etxt13.htm

Glenn M. Karisch, "Using The Internet in an Estate Planning Practice" (Jan. 1999) http://www.texasprobate.net/articles/internet.htm

Don MacLeod, "The Internet Guide for The Legal Researcher" (2nd Ed. 1997) published by InfoSources Publishing

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APPENDIX E -- GLOSSARY OF TECHNICAL TERMS

Bandwidth refers to the transmission capacity of a network or network component. The faster a device can process information, the greater its bandwidth. For example, a 56K modem -- one that can theoretically transmit information from an ISP to a user at the rate of 56,000 bytes of information per second -- has greater bandwidth than an older-generation 28.8K modem.

Bundled software is software that is sold along with another program or product so that the user is not required to pay separately for the bundled software. For more information, see United States v. Microsoft Corporation.

A cable modem is a device which permits a computer to use cable television lines to access the Internet. A cable modem connection generally is much faster than POTS or ISDN.

A client program is one that a computer user uses to perform a function on a remote computer. For example, a lawyer may use an email client program to access his or her email over a network. The remote computer on which the function is performed is called a server.

A domain is computer on the Internet with a unique name. The computer may be physically located on the Internet, as is the case with the computers operated by an ISP, or "virtually" located on the Net, as is the case with most domains. For example, the author's ISP -- Illuminati Online -- has the domain io.com. This domain is physically located on the Internet -- Illuminati's computers are constantly hot-wired to the Net. The author's domain -- texasprobate.net -- does not denote a separate computer on the Internet. Rather, through Internet addressing, the domain texasprobate.net virtually exists on the Internet when in reality it exists on Illuminati Online's computer. This is called a "virtual domain," and Illuminati Online is providing "web hosting" services.

Electronic mail -- email -- is a method of passing messages and other information, including computer files, from one computer to another over a network.

An extranet is a means of permitting persons not on a local area network (LAN) to access password protected information on a Web site.

A graphical user interface (GUI) is a part of a computer program which permits the user to manipulate the program by reference to graphical elements (such as icons, or pictures) instead of by means of textual computer code. Microsoft's Windows operating system has a GUI, and most companies now write software to take advantage of it.

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) is a relatively new digital telephone service. Use of an ISDN telephone line (rather than a POTS line) makes it unnecessary to have a modem to convert digital information to analog format and vice versa and, not coincidentally, enables faster data transmission.

An Internet Service Provider -- ISP -- is a company or institution which provides Internet access to computer users. For organizations like universities, the ISP may be the university itself. For most lawyers, however, the ISP will be a commercial enterprise selling Internet access, such as America Online.

A local area network -- a LAN -- is a group of computers at one location that are connected to each other by wiring (except that some state-of-the-art LANs use microwave connections now). Typically the users of computers on a LAN share data and/or programs. Most law firms have a LAN connecting all of its computers together to permit file sharing -- both the attorney and his or her secretary can access the same document file without having to exchange floppy disks, for example.

A modem is a device which converts the digital information on a computer into a format which can be transmitted over analog telephone lines, and vice versa.

POTS, short for "plain old telephone service," describes traditional analog telephone lines.

A router is a device which permits users to share one data transmission line. The router detects how many users are transmitting or receiving information at a particular moment and divides the available bandwidth among the users.

A server is a computer than permits remote users to access its programs and/or data.

A SLIP/PPP connection is an Internet connection which allows the use of a graphical user interface to browse the World Wide Web.

A web crawler program is a program which visits pages on the World Wide Web and indexes the key words found there. A search engine then searches the index, permitting users to find Web pages with those key words. Alta Vista is an example of a web crawler-based search engine.

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ENDNOTES

1. This may quickly become obsolete, as more and more law firms get high-speed connections.

2. "Traditionally," when used in reference to the Internet, means for the last few years.

3. A health note: You know you are in too deep when you not only work on Christmas Eve, but you also check your email mailing list message on Christmas Eve.

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