Beyond E-Mail:

Using The Internet For Your Law Practice


Internet Research Sites for ‘practise’ in the new millenium



Extreme Family Law Makeover!


The Bright Shawl

San Antonio, Texas


March 4, 2005




Mark I. Unger, Esq.

JAE, Inc.

10010 San Pedro, Ste. 660

San Antonio, Tx. 78216

T: 210.366.9676

F: 210.366.0412


















*To request a downloadable version of this document with ‘live’ links, please email the author at the above listed email address.

“Isn’t it strange

That Princes & Kings and Clowns

Who scamper in sawdust rings

And common people like you and me,

Are builders for eternity

For to each is given a sack of tools,

A shapeless mass & a book of rules

And he must make,

Ere life has flown,

A stumbling block or a stepping stone.”

Anon (quote courtesy of Stewart Gagnon)


I.                    Introduction

II.                 Search Engines/All topics

III.               People

a.       Phone/Address Finders

b.      Data Searches on People

IV.              Property Searches

a.       Real Property

b.      Corporation Tax Search

c.       Bexar County Practice

d.      Personal Property and Corporate Filings

V.                 Texas Government Sites

VI.              Texas Legislature

VII.            Texas Courts

VIII.         Legal Research Sites

a.       Texas Statutes Online:  Texas Rules and Codes

b.      Texas Constitution

c.       Texas Rules of Evidence

d.      Texas Rules of Civil Procedure (revisions):

e.       Texas Rules of Criminal Procedure

f.        Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure

g.       Texas Codes

h.       Texas Case law

i.         Private Legal Sites for Texas Attorneys

IX.              Issue Specific/Practice Area Specific Websites

X.                 Miscellaneous












I.                    Introduction


ex·treme   Audio pronunciation of "extreme" ( P )  Pronunciation Key  (k-strm)

  1. Most remote in any direction; outermost or farthest: the extreme edge of the field.
  2. Being in or attaining the greatest or highest degree; very intense: extreme pleasure; extreme pain.
  3. Extending far beyond the norm: an extreme conservative. See Synonyms at excessive.
  4. Of the greatest severity; drastic: took extreme measures to conserve fuel.
  5. Sports.
    1. Very dangerous or difficult: extreme rafting.
    2. Participating or tending to participate in a very dangerous or difficult sport: an extreme skier.
  6. Archaic. Final; last.



di·vorce   Audio pronunciation of "divorce" ( P )  Pronunciation Key  (d-vôrs, -vrs)

  1. The legal dissolution of a marriage.
  2. A complete or radical severance of closely connected things.

v. di·vorced, di·vorc·ing, di·vorc·es
v. tr.

  1. To dissolve the marriage bond between.
  2. To end marriage with (one's spouse) by way of legal divorce.
  3. To cut off; separate or disunite: an idea that was completely divorced from reality. See Synonyms at separate.

v. intr.

To obtain a divorce.






            As lawyers practicing family law, we are often called upon to take situations, which are extreme (at least to our clients) and act accordingly.  As the definition of ‘accordingly’ will vary from case to case and lawyer to lawyer, what will vary less is how we might perceive what ‘Extreme Divorce’ might mean to our actions. defines the two terms above and, by this writer’s interpretation, might be combined as follows:

            Extreme Divorce = Being in or attaining the greatest or highest degree in a  complete or radical severance of closely connected things.


            In other words, our job, should we choose to accept it, and try and do it well is that of performing at the highest level in the complete division of persons and things.  Not exactly appealing to the empathetic, it’s process is dictated by the ability to acquire information and use it to save or protect our client from the other side.  In that vein, all tools at our disposal that helps us do that at some point will become expected.  The Internet, in its current form is a tool that can do one of two things—it can either level the playing field or it can provide an advantage to one side.  It’s use will become ever more of an integral extension of our practice.  It’s key is our ability to embrace it and make it an automatic part of our mental process in preparing for the extreme, or not so extreme divorce.


            This paper is a basic introduction to conducting research on the internet, primarily focusing on some of the most basic and widely used websites for locating people, places, and things, as well as pursuing legal research and information.  Most of these sites are free and easily accessible to the public, however some have been restricted and are intended to conform to recent movements in privacy law and the legitimate purposes for such research.  Many of the search engines and websites listed herein contain a certain amount of crossover or overlapping of topics or information.  Although I have tried to limit the number of sites in this paper, only trying them out will result in which one best suits your practice and personal taste.


II.                 Search Engines/All topics


            These sites are generically based and are intended to search for keywords that are registered as “metatags” with the particular search engine/website, returning a list of sites that match as closely as possible the words for which you searched. 


A.                 Google:

--my personal favorite;  download the toolbar directly to your computer for 24/7 searching capability without having to go to the website; toolbar also includes automatic ‘popup’ blocker;  expanded to include map searching for local restaurants or businesses, shopping (called “froogle”) and image searching (that’s picture searching via the internet), and currently in beta testing for email service.

B.                 Dogpile:

C.                 AltaVista:

D.                 Excite:

E.                  Yahoo:

F.         -- Outstanding resource site listing all major search engines, and listings for search engines by topic (including legal), area of interest or region

G.                 Craig Ball’s Meta-Search Engine:



III.               People:

A.                 Phone/Address Finders:

1.                  State Bar of Texas Attorney Search

(includes disciplinary records):

                                                This site, further updated in functionality also allows for online-video CLE, checking your CLE requirements,



2.                  Martindale-Hubbell:


3.            Anywho: 

                  Finds businesses or people by name, Yellow Pages, White Pages, Reverse Lookup, Toll-free numbers, and International pages;  in conjunction with AT&T.


4.         Smart Pages:

      SBC/Ameritech’s comprehensive version of nationwide searches for businesses and a whole lot more;  consumer oriented.


5.         US Search:

      Search backgrounds of people, criminal histories, identity theft and various court records, for a fee.



      Outstanding and comprehensive free way to find a lot of people.


5.         Area Code Listings

Searchable Database, which lists cities, and State covered


6.         ATT reverse phone lookup


7.           Yahoo People Search:

This pay site, merely repackages and utilizes but offers three different packages depending on how much information you want on the person.



B.                 Data Searches on People


1.      Birthdays:


2.      Search Systems:

      Public Records locator by State;  some for free, some for fee.


3.      Virtual Gumshoe:

      Great list of investigative tools, extremely comprehensive portal for investigators and investigation.



      Outstanding portal for locating driver’s license and criminal records;  fee-based, but not that expensive.  Not as up to date as some others, this site is very user friendly, as reprinted below—

Criminal  Help
Alabama  Alaska  Arizona  Arkansas  California  Colorado  Connecticut  Florida  Georgia  Idaho  Illinois  Indiana  Iowa  Kansas  Kentucky  Maine  Maryland  Michigan  Minnesota  Mississippi  Missouri  Montana  Nebraska  Nevada  New Hampshire  New Jersey  New Mexico  New York  North Carolina  North Dakota  Ohio  Oklahoma  Oregon  Pennsylvania  Rhode Island  South Carolina  Tennessee  Texas  Utah  Virginia  Wisconsin  DOB 

Sex Offenders  Help
Alabama  Alaska  Arizona  Arkansas  California  Colorado  Connecticut  Delaware  District of Columbia  Florida  Georgia  Hawaii  Idaho  Illinois  Indiana  Iowa  Kansas  Kentucky  Louisiana  Maine  Maryland  Massachusetts  Michigan  Minnesota  Mississippi  Missouri  Montana  Nebraska  Nevada  New Hampshire  New Jersey  New Mexico  New York  North Carolina  North Dakota  Ohio  Oklahoma  Pennsylvania  South Carolina  South Dakota  Tennessee  Texas  Utah  Vermont  Virginia  Washington  West Virginia  Wisconsin  Wyoming  DOB  ZIP code 

Driver's License  Help
Florida  Idaho  Iowa  Minnesota  Mississippi  Missouri  Ohio  Texas  Wisconsin  DOB  DL Number 

DMV - License Plate  Help
Colorado  Florida  Idaho  Maine  Minnesota  Mississippi  Missouri  North Carolina  Ohio  Oregon  South Dakota  Tennessee  Texas  Utah  Wisconsin 

DMV - Vehicle Id (VIN)  Help
Colorado  Florida  Idaho  Iowa  Kentucky  Maine  Minnesota  Mississippi  Missouri  Nebraska  North Carolina  Ohio  Oregon  Tennessee  Texas  Utah  Wisconsin  Wyoming 

Civil Court  Help
Alaska  California  Pennsylvania  Rhode Island  TX Dallas Cnty Civil  TX Dallas Cnty Eviction 

Voter  Help
North Carolina  Ohio  Texas  TX Dallas Cnty  TX Harris Cnty  DOB 

Professional  Help
TX Alcoholic Bev  TX Med Examiner  TX Misc  TX Real Estate  DOB  License 

FAA  Help
Airmen  Civil Aircraft  Dealer  Reserved N  Serial No  Air Model  Engine Model  N number  N changes 

Federal  Help
Fed. Elections Committee  Firearms  SSA Deaths by Name  SSN 



5.      Accurint:

Boasting the lowly price of 25 cents per search, this is my favorite for locating people and information about them.  Other search examples include Banking, Insurance, child support agencies, collections, landlord/management companies, and media; now includes batch processing with partner ‘SmartJury,’ allowing for mass searching for potential juror information.



      Slightly more expensive, but all searches can be ordered in a self-contained format on a pay-as-you-go way (app. 6.95 per search).



      With pricing similar to KnowX, this site seems to offer an incredible amount of available information.  Reached this site while searching through Yahoo’s people search.


7.      Web Detective:

$29.95 initial membership fee to join; claims as comprehensive as anyone’s


IV.              Property Searches:


A.                 Real Property:


1.         Craig Ball’s County Property Links

      Thanks to council member Craig Ball, who along with Howard Nations has arguably the two best private research sites for attorneys in Texas, this page boasts a compilation of all the County Appraisal Districts online. 


2.         Texas County Data Website: Billed as the Texas’ largest online property records database; Searchable by name, address or property ID number.


B.   Corporation Tax Search:



C.  Bexar County Practice:  I would be remiss in not providing some of the sites that provide attorneys in and around Bexar County, Texas and the information that is available if you ever practice in this area.

1.                  Bexar County Appraisal District:

2.                  Bexar County District Clerk: 


   Lists information and postings on a full range of practice issues in the Bexar County Courts, including:  Fax Filing, E-Filing, Fees, Civil and Criminal Courts, Local Rules, Passports, Attorney Vacation submissions and Tax Suits.


3.                  Bexar County District Court Litigant Search:

Searchable by party name, it’s finally here.  What used to be via HyperTerminal access, it’s now web-based and will be one of the most valuable assets to your office-based practice.


4.                  Bexar County Clerk:

Searchable database of Assumed Names, Commissioners Court Records, Deed Records, Marriage Licenses, and UCC filings and Foreclosure Notices, with more on the way.


5.                  San Antonio Municipal Court – pay or lookup pending traffic tickets/records:

1.      Home Page:

2.      Lookup:


6.                  San Antonio Police Reports


D.                 Personal Property and Corporate Filings:     

Secretary of State (SOS): 

                                    If you do not want to pay for the same service on Lexis, you can

Search the SOS site, and even file other business documents and articles, for a small fee.


V.        Texas Government Sites:

1.      Office of the Attorney General, Child Support database; with client information, you can look up recent payments by Non-Custodial Parents. 



2.      Texas Online, E-Government Services;  Texas Government site and partner for Electronic Filing of Court Documents (now available in Bexar County).  Also available are Texas Driver’s License services, vehicle renewal, and Driver’s Record requests, among a litany of other e-services.


3.      Texas Department of Public Safety:



   Search Tx.DPS for any of the following (some with slight fee)

                                                Driver License Renewal

                                                Conviction Records

                        Log in to search statewide criminal records database;  similar to                                  PublicData and KnowX’s but probable more up to date.

                                                Sex Offender

                                                Concealed Handgun

                                                Downloadable Forms

                        A full range of forms provided by Tx.DPS.

4.      First Gov – US Government Portal/gateway to US Government web pages:

5.      Comprehensive State Government Links;  Links to virtually all state agencies, as well as statutes provided by one Dallas firm:

6.      Comprehensive Federal Government Links from the same firm:

VI.       Texas Legislature: search for past and pending legislation, as well as comments and legislative history.



VII.      Texas Courts: 

A.        Search for opinions, as well as general Court information for all Texas Courts.  (Includes Supreme Court of Texas, all Appellate Courts and all Trial Courts).


            B.         Search for Local Rules for Texas County and District Courts, many from Austin to Williamson, including Bankruptcy Court rules

               C.     Texas Municipal Courts Website – Links page to vast majority of Municipal Courts in the State of Texas, including contact information and fine schedules in some jurisdictions.       

VIII. Legal Research Sites:

A.  Texas Statutes Online:  Texas Rules and Codes

            B.         Texas Constitution:


C.        Texas Rules of Evidence:                                                         


            D.        Texas Rules of Civil Procedure (revisions):


E.         Texas Rules of Criminal Procedure:

F.         Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure

G.        Texas Codes (some of the many specific codes listed on the Texas Statutes web page)

                  1.   Texas Family Code:


2.                  Texas Penal Code:

3.                  Texas Probate Code:

4.                  Texas Property Code:

5.                  Vernon’s Civil Statutes (all others not listed on Texas Statutes page)   

            H.        Texas Case law:

1.      My Texas Bar:  Utilizes internal ‘deep’ linking with Findlaw (requires signup as bar member and password, free for bar members):

Free to Texas Attorneys, this ‘portal’ is the pre-eminent gateway to practice management in Texas.  A comprehensive and customizable site (to each attorney via password sign-in, that includes calendaring function, free legal research, case updates, links to recent Supreme Court decisions, links to all State Bar sections, and links to State Bar resources, among multiple other functions.

2.      Findlaw:

3.      Cornell Law School:  Incomparable legal portal, very user friendly for all States laws and other legal research.                                                                  

4.      Lexis:

Full service legal research site; various plans available.

5.      LexisOne:

Limited search capabilities for registered users; free service, includes some recent case law, forms, bookstore, news and site search capability; Marketed towards small firms.

6.      Westlaw:

Same as Lexis, only different; the two major players in the legal research game, West has aggressively marketed it’s website service (for a substantial fee) to tie into other major search engines and gain a web presence and potential client’s for it’s member firms; takes a three-tiered approach for various entry levels for firms.

            I.          Private Legal Sites for Texas Attorneys

1.                  Craig Ball, Esq: 

A phenomenal site that can point you in any direction you want to go, a member of the State Bar of Texas Computer Council and self proclaimed ‘technologist,’ Craig’s site is very user friendly and accessible.

2.                  Howard Nations, Esq.: Links for Texas Lawyers

I.                    Bar Associations:

A.     San Antonio Bar Association:

B.     Travis County Bar Association:

C.     Dallas County Bar Association:

D.     Houston Bar Association:

E.      Texas Access To Justice Commission (TAJC) and Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation (TEAJF) website.

F.      My Texas Bar, free to Texas Lawyers from the State Bar of Texas:


G.     Check your MCLE compliance  (from main page:

H.      Texas Bar CLE
Fee-based searchable archive of State Bar CLE articles from 1998 to present:

I.        American Bar Association CLE Programs, online, telephone, live and webcast availability

J.       Online Continuing Legal Education

K.    West’s online, on-demand center for CLE

L.      Process Servers Anywhere:

IX. Issue Specific/Practice Area Specific Websites:

a.       Daubert and it’s progeny- Everything you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask…

b.      Practice Management:

                                                               i.      Communication – Cell phone and Text Paging sites; communicate with anyone with a cell phone via web messaging, just be sure to advise your attorney “Communicee” to switch ringer in Court.

1.      AT&T:

2.      Verizon:

3.      Cingular:

4.      TMobile:

5.      Sprint:

6.      NextTel (see middle right of page) or directly from

                        c.         Family Law Links:

1.      Online organization providing resources with the intent of promoting the best interests of children in the divorce/courts’ process


2.      Online subscription website designed to facilitate the communication, planning and scheduling between parents and children in multiple jurisdictions; includes scheduling function for visitation, posting of school grades and messaging in order to further cooperation among parents.


3.         State Bar of Texas Family Law Section/Links:


                                    including the 2004 Child Support Tax Charts

                                                a.  Employed Persons:

                  b.  Self-Employed Persons:

               d. Probate Law- Barnes & Karisch’s Probate Website




X.        Miscellaneous:  Some various consumer sites that I consider the very good for the day-to-day business of living, attorney or not.

            A.        Travel:

1.                  Southwest Airlines:

2.                  Expedia: 

3.                  Travelocity:

4.                  TravelZoo:

5.                  Orbitz:    

6.                  Enterprise Car Rental:

7.                  Dollar Car Rental:

8.                  Hertz Car Rental:

B.         Currency Exchange websites:






C.        Mail/Delivery

                                                                                                                           i.      UPS:

                                                                                                                         ii.      United States Postal Service:

                                                                                                                        iii.      Federal Express:


D.        Dictionaries:

                                                                                                                           i.      Dictionary online:

                                                                                                                        ii.      Legal Dictionary online:

                                                                                                                      iii.      Language translation site-- Altavista search engine partnership with Babelfish translation engine; capable of translating documents, articles or phrases almost instantaneously in most major languages.

                                                                                                                        iv.      Google’s version of asp-based language translation engine

E.         Privacy Issues:

1.  Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act


2.  SBC Communications’ website initiative to help educate consumers about Internet safety, privacy and security.



            F.  Maps/Directions:

a.        Mapquest:

b.       Expedia:


G.  Computer Downloads:CNET--


                                                                                                                         v.      ZDNet--



            H.  E-filing websites:

a.       Texas Online E-filing:


b.         E-filing Service Providers (EFSP’s) – The current providers through you may electronically file documents in Bexar County:

TexasOnline Electronic Filing Service Providers:

1.       ProDoc

2.       Case File Xpress

3.       LawPlace

4.       MyFileRunner

5.       American Legal Net (US Court Forms)