Specialist Portals vs Google for Online Legal Information

Specialist Portals vs Google for Online Legal Information | Sabinet

In this article, we will take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of using Google as a source for legal information online, and compare it to an online legal information portal.

The concept might seem slightly strange at first.  After all, why would you use a broad-based search engine when you have access to a specialist online legal information service?  The answer to this question is familiarity.

In the modern age, Google has become a part of our lives.  We use it to find quick answers to simple questions, like what is showing at the local cinema, how to make oat crunchies, and the definitions of archaic words that crop up intermittently in reading material.

It may seem basic to use such a resource as a means of obtaining legal information online, but the very fact that it features so strongly in our everyday lives means that many of us turn to this search engine before anything else.

Strengths of Google as a Source for Online Legal Information

1. Search Terms Relation

One definite advantage of using Google over the act of crawling through a print index is the fact that Google has the ability to offer related terms in its search results.  This is extremely useful when searching for information on an unfamiliar area of law.  This greatly limits the amount of time spent researching the actual terminology before researching the topic itself.

2. Contextual Information

One of the useful factors of Google is its ability to provide contextual information on various subjects.  When wanting to find about a particular topic, many people often turn to resources like Wikipedia or Google Answers.

Weaknesses of Google as a Legal Online Information Service

1. Inability to Filter Material Sufficiently

Entering search terms allows for the refinement of searches, but it does not allow users to search for the type of documentation they require.  Search terms simply provide results for every type of document containing those particular terms.  So a search for a particular piece of legislation might yield irrelevant results from media articles mentioning it.

2. No Time Parameters

Another problem with Google’s search terms is the fact that it doesn’t filter results according to their currency.  This means that search results frequently contain information that is irrelevant due to its age.

The Benefits of Using an Online Legal Information Portal

Aside from having similar strengths to Google, a specialist online legal information system doesn’t share the search engine’s weaknesses.  It is possible to pinpoint the material necessary and discover topical and relevant information.

Google is perfectly fine for discovering background information on a particular topic and discovering the right terminology to aid a search.  But, when it comes to uncovering information pertinent to the law, there is no substitute for an online legal information portal.

 

Image credit: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/11599909/EU-right-to-be-forgotten-one-year-on.html