Writing about law and the legal system

By KELLY BURNS

How much do you know about the legal system in our country?  As college journalists, many of us have taken only one or two law classes and even with the knowledge those classes have given us, many can’t remember specifics. When writing articles pertaining to the justice system, it can be difficult to know which laws have been applied in various cases and exactly how those laws should be interpreted.  So, in order to help us write well-informed articles, I’ve decided to provide a few sites that may be helpful:

1) Law and Policies Institutions Guide: This website offers an extensive amount of resources for journalists to use.  LPIG provides links to commentaries and interviews with legal professionals, from attorneys to authors. LPIG also provides a database where the user can search for legal articles for free. Another aspect of the site that proves helpful is the general info section which provides basic legal information regarding the court system and national and state laws.

2) The National Criminal Justice Services: NCJRS is partially sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice. NCJRS offers references to help users research and find information regarding legal policies and crime. You can search for answers to your questions on the website using the question and answer section and be given an widespread amount of answers. The website contains a plethora of articles regarding crime, prevention, and court system in the U.S., along with information on funding for legal services and programs.

3) Law Periscope: Law Periscope is a simple specialized directory for some of the largest law firms in the United States. You can also search for specific attorneys, linking directly to their websites.  Law Periscope allows you to perform the research yourself, compare prices, find which services they offer and evaluate each of the firms.

Writing about the legal system is not an easy task, but with these resources hopefully it will not be as intimidating as it seems.

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