Law Blog

Locating Government Information from the Government Printing Office

The Government Printing Office (GPO) publishes and distributes official and authentic government publications to Congress, Federal Agencies, Federal Depository Libraries and the American public. The GPO is currently migrating their information from GPO Access to a new system called Federal Digital System or FDsys. FDsys is an advanced digital system that will allow the GPO to manage Government information from all three branches of government. Advantages to the new system include the ability for Congress and Federal Agencies to submit files and orders electronically to the GPO, Government information will reach a wider audience through the internet based system, preservation of information will be ensured even as technology changes, and the GPO will have greater control of the format of the information they receive. Movement from GPO Access to FDsys will be completed on a step by step basis, finishing in 2010.

There are several ways to conduct a search using FDsys. From the homepage in the left menu click on GPO Access - FDsys. On this page you can type a keyword in the text box and conduct a simple search. There is also an advance search option which allows you to select the publication and limit dates. You can also limit your search to full text, branch of government, category or citation. Selecting the help link provides you with information on conducting searches.

Locating Government Information With THOMAS (Library of Congress)

Launched in 1995, THOMAS has expanded to include information on bills and resolutions, activity in Congress, an index to the Congressional Record, schedules and calendars, Presidential Nominations, treaties, and government resources. At this site you can also learn how your government works. A link to information for teachers including classroom activities, lesson plans and more is available on the homepage. 

Free Legal Forms

 Need a form for business or legal work? We do not have fill in the blank forms, but we have resources available for you. Our resources include both online and print resources. When you are looking for legal forms, Virginia Forms and the Virginia Practice Series are good places to start. The Virginia Forms multi-volume set is available at the Headquarters Branch, Porter Branch, Salem Church Branch and Snow Branch. The Virginia Practice Series is available in the Law Library at the Headquarters Branch. It is also available online through the Westlaw database available in the Law Library. In the Law Library you will also find CLE (Continuing Legal Education) books. These are the three ring binders located on the spinner in the Law Library. These notebooks contain information and examples of forms as provided for continuing education classes for attorneys. In the Quiet Reading Room at the Headquarters Branch, browse the Nolo Press books located on the wall under the window. If you need help finding forms, sign-up for Training on Demand with the Law Librarian!

Finding Legal Opinions on the Web Using Google Scholar and Lexis One

A wealth of free legal information is available on the Internet. When searching for legal opinions or law journal articles, there are two sites that I would like to recommend: Google Scholar and LexisOne.

Resources For Guarding Against Identity Theft

Questions and concerns about identity theft? Check out these web sites:

Onguard On Line
Find tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you guard against internet fraud, help you secure your computer and protect your personal information.

Identity Theft Center
Nonprofit group that provides information to help you understand identity and prevent identity theft. It includes a section for teens.

Identity Theft 911
Provides research, newsletters, and alerts about scams.

Dealing with Foreclosure

INTERNET RESOURCES

HUD Guide to Avoiding Foreclosure
The Department of Housing and Urban Development provides information on avoiding foreclosures, as well as information on the forclosure process. It includes links to other web sites, including state-specific foreclosure information.

Avoiding Foreclosure -- Virginia
Information provided by HUD specific to Virginia.

Divorce Resources

Thinking of filing for divorce yourself? The following resources may help you. As with all legal issues, we highly recommend that you hire an attorney. Resources for finding an attorney can be found at the end of this document. You are not required to hire an attorney. If you decide to proceed pro se (without an attorney), remember that you must follow the same rules as if you had an attorney. Library staff cannot give you legal advice nor can court personnel. We cannot tell you which forms you need to use, nor can we assist you in completing the forms.

Using Digests in Legal Research

Have you tried searching for legal cases by randomly typing in key words in a database? Searching this way can be time consuming and is often unsuccessul. Instead, try using a West digest that provides you with specific subject headings.

Thomsen West, a publisher of legal materials developed a key number system that assigns key numbers to subject headings. In the law library we have Virginia and West Virginia Digest in print. This digest is a multivolume set and the subjects, with their assigned key number, are listed alphabetically.

Follow Law Blogs and Stay Informed

Many blogs are available on the internet on many topics, including legal blogs. One blog of particular interest to citizens of Virginia is The Virginia Lawyer's Weekly blog. While the blog was created for attorneys, it does offer information on some of the latest legal cases as well as breaking news for the legal community.

Tracking Legislation

Once you elect your representatives it may seem like a herculean task to follow what they are doing and how they are voting. Two websites will help you quickly catch up on issues important to you. To track your federal representatives try the website Government Track Us. At this site you will find a wealth of information about what is happening in Congress right now. You can also have e-mail alerts sent to your e-mail account. You can narrow your alerts to your specific representatives or specific issues.