Section 1.3.3: Evaluating Online Legal Resources

Fundamentals of Procedural Law by Adam J. McKee

In this digital age, the internet has become a significant source of information, including legal resources. However, the quality of online content can vary considerably. Understanding how to evaluate online legal resources is crucial to conducting accurate, reliable legal research.

Accuracy and Timeliness: Two Crucial Factors

When using online legal materials, it’s necessary to ask two critical questions: Is the material accurate, and is it timely?

Assessing Accuracy

The first step in evaluating online legal resources is to ensure their accuracy. Accuracy in this context means the material reflects the correct and current interpretation of the law.

Given that anyone can publish anything on the internet, there’s a wide variance in the quality of legal resources available online. Some may be highly accurate and detailed, while others might be incomplete or even misleading. As such, it’s crucial to verify the information you encounter and ensure it’s reliable.

The Importance of Timeliness

Another critical factor in evaluating online legal resources is their timeliness. The law is not static—it evolves and changes over time. A legal resource may have been accurate when it was created, but if the law it discusses has changed or been updated, that resource might no longer be correct.

An accurate statement of the law, therefore, must be current. This means even reputable sources can become substantially incorrect when the law they discuss becomes outdated.

Trust, but Verify: Cross-Referencing Information

Even when using a reputable source, such as a law school website, it’s good practice to follow the old Russian proverb: Trust, but verify. This means while you can generally rely on the information from a trusted source, it’s always wise to cross-reference the details with other reliable sources.  This is a critical aspect of evaluating online legal resources.

This practice ensures that the information is consistent across various sources and allows you to identify any potential discrepancies. This process will further strengthen the credibility of your research and ensure the accuracy and currentness of your legal knowledge.


Evaluating online legal resources requires careful consideration of the accuracy and timeliness of the material. Given the variability of online content, it’s essential to confirm that the information is correct and reflects the most current law. Even when using reputable sources, it’s recommended to cross-reference the information with other trusted resources. This practice helps to confirm the consistency of the details and highlight any potential discrepancies, contributing to the credibility of your research.

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Modification History

File Created:  08/07/2018

Last Modified:  06/29/2023

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