Features - Jurisline.com: What You See...What You Don't See

With research assistance by
Lynn Peterson
and
Judy Fair-Spaulding

T. R. Halvorson is a lawyer in sole practice in Sidney, MT, President of Pastel Programming Co., a division of Synoptic Text Information Services, Inc., and author of Law of the Super Searchers:  the Online Secrets of Top Legal Researchers, How to Avoid Liability: The Information Professional's Guide to Negligence and Warranty Risks, and Legal Liability Problems in Cyberspace: Craters in the Information Highway.

Lynn Peterson is the founder of PFC Information Services Inc., provider of advanced research and information since 1989 to the legal community, corporations, financial institutions, venture capitalists, employers, investigators, the media and other information firms.  Ms. Peterson has been quoted on the subject of public records searching in a variety of sources, including The Wall Street Journal, Kiplingers, and The Information Brokers Handbook.

Judy Fair-Spaulding is President of JFS International, Inc. She has been an Information Specialist for over 30 years and a DIALOG searcher for over 20 years.  Ms. Fair-Spaulding was a DIALOG Customer Services Specialist for 10 years and in library management positions for over 15 years. She was one of the three people who designed DIALOG's TRADEMARKSCAN database. She is the author of numerous published articles, a frequent panelist on online searching, and has testified in court as an expert in online trademark searching.

Published January 17, 2000

Click here for the January 24, 2000 update to this article.

Contents

What You See ...

. . . What You Don't See

Who Is Jurisline.com?

Overview
Searching
Viewing Results
Downloading
Scope, Coverage, Timeliness
Accuracy/Error Rate
Why Does It Matter?
Site Documentation
Email and Snailmail Inquiry
Looking Online for Jurisline
Pick Up The Phone

Introduction

Previously I presented reviews of VersusLaw's V.1 and the LOIS Law Library2 applying the Southern California Online User's Group Rating Scale.3  Those sites are reasonably well documented.  Emails to those services making reviewer's inquiries drew prompt and helpful replies.  Both eagerly provided telephone contact with knowledgeable personnel.

The lists have been abuzz about Jurisline.com.4  This new service is in final beta test. Searchers are asking questions.  You need answers before you can competently rely on the data.  I wish it were possible to apply the SCOUG Rating Scale to this new service.  It just isn't mainly because the providers of the service have not been as forthcoming as VersusLaw and LOIS were. In key respects the site is essentially undocumented, and the response of the providers to inquiries has been insufficient to enable anything like a SCOUG-inspired evaluation.

In this article, I'll tell you what I can about Jurisline.com for now.  That's half of the story.  The other half is a report of what I did to try to bring you the answers and what I found along the way.  Stay with me.  I promise an interesting trip.  We'll even make a stop at Rock America and the Ed Sullivan Theater.  I am not kidding.

What You See ...

Overview

The welcome page presents Jurisline.com as "Your source for comprehensive and free legal research materials."  The "About Us" page purports that "Jurisline.com provides a dynamic and comprehensive database of premium legal resources to an online audience consisting of attorneys and other members of the legal and business community."

The site provides:

  • full text of covered federal and state case law
  • full text of covered federal and state statutes
  • full text of EDGAR filings
  • stock quotes
  • federal trademark information
  • links to top news, weather, and sports

The EDGAR information is powered by 10K Wizard Financials Online and the stock quote information is powered by Stockpoint.  The federal trademark information is from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  The Terms of Use and Disclaimer indicate that the news is from Reuters and iSyndicate.  The news links take a browser to URLs suggestive of CBS, FOX, and other services as well.  Case law and statute searching is powered by Jurisline.com's own search engine.

The page design is clean and smart.  It is compact yet not so dense as to be overwhelming.  The page width is limited to meet the constraints of least-common-denominator display monitors.  The contents of each page tell you just enough to maintain your "sense of place" and the parameters of your current operations.

Jurisline.com sends stock email messages in reply to inquiries.  One such message on December 10, 1999 said:

[W]e are currently in the final stages of the public beta testing of our site and expect to begin our official "launch" very shortly. This launch will involve a large scale informational and marketing campaign to attorneys, librarians, paralegals and others in the legal profession, with the goal of introducing the Jurisline.com site as a primary internet destination for free legal research needs and related services. We are also in the process of preparing a team of dedicated Jurisline.com representatives to provide on-site demonstrations of our services at law firms, schools and libraries.

* * *  One of the main goals of Jurisline.com was to address the highly fragmented and non-uniform sources of legal research material on the internet, and to replace them with a single integrated and intuitive search engine interface.

* * *

We will also be forming an advisory board comprised of attorneys, librarians and academics to help shape the future content of our site and to monitor the quality of this content. The advisory board will ensure that Jurisline.com remains focused on its mission to deliver premium legal content to the public for free as it continues to expand its services and offerings. Please contact us if you or anyone else in your organization would be interested in serving as a member of our advisory board.

Certain actions, such as downloading cases, require registration.  Registration, searching, viewing results, and downloading all are free.

WARNING Number One:  Try to find and save Jurisline.com's statement of its privacy policy.

WARNING Number Two:  Try to find and save information disclosing which individuals or artificial legal entity owns, provides, or otherwise is responsible for Jurisline.com in general and, in particular, for whatever it might do with your registration information.

Searching

The search interface is pleasing for a free service.  When researching cases, in addition to keyword searching of the full text, the system supports field restrictors for date, judge, party and counsel.  Following is an illustration of the interface when searching all federal cases.

Federal Cases

Libraries Selected:
    All Federal Cases
Enter Search Query:       Search help and examples

Optional Search Fields Below  

Optional Search Fields:
You may enter additional search criteria for any of the fields listed below.

Date Restriction:
Year:
Parties:
Judge:
Counsel:
 

Jurisline.com supports Boolean command language searching.  The query processor is reasonably powerful and straightforward for professional searchers.  It supports AND, OR, NOT, phrase searching in double quotation marks, truncation, single- and multiple-character wildcards, and explicit order of operation by nesting with parentheses.  The following table summarizes how the proximity operators work.

  /n
w/n
Finds documents containing specified words that are within "n" number of words of each other.
Example:  punitive w/5 damages
  /p
w/p
Finds documents containing specified words that are in the same paragraph.
Example:  injunction /p standard
  /s
w/s
Finds documents containing specified words that are in the same sentence.
Example:  zoning /s regulation

Note that the the asterisk (*) is the single-character wildcard and can be used anywhere in a word, including as the first character.  The exclamation mark (!) is the multiple-character wildcard and can represent one or more characters, but not at the beginning of a word.

Viewing Results

Jurisline.com displays the hit list in a treeview and hyperlink format, as illustrated in the following excerpt.

  Search Results
Click any document to view.


17 search results

Keywords: "easement by prescription"
Date Restriction: After 1989
1st Circuit Cases
  District of Maine
1 document
    SPRAGUE CORP. V. SPRAGUE, 855 F. Supp. 423 (D. ME 1994)
2nd Circuit Cases
  2nd Circuit Court of Appeals
2 documents
    COUNTY OF WESTCHESTER V. COMMISSIONER OF TRANSP. O, 9 F.3d 242 (2d Cir. 1993)
    COUNTY OF WESTCHESTER V. TOWN OF GREENWICH, 76 F.3d 42 (2d Cir. 1996)
 

Should your search happen to hit on more than 200 documents, you won't be able to see any of them.  The system displays a message requiring you to narrow your search.

The online output is neatly formatted HTML.  Case output indicates pagination in the original in square brackets and highlights search terms in red font, as illustrated in the following excerpt.

 

THE SPRAGUE CORPORATION, MILLICENT MONKS, and ROBERT MONKS, Plaintiffs
vs.
SHAW SPRAGUE, Defendant
  Civil No. 93-283-P-C
United States District Court For The District Of Maine
855 F. Supp. 423, 1994 U.S. Dist. Decision
June 2, 1994, Decided

For Plaintiffs: Michael T. Healy, Esq., VERRILL & DANA, 1 Portland Square, P.O. Box 586, Portland, Maine 04112. Peter L. Murray, Esq., MURRAY, PLUMB & MURRAY, 75 Pearl Street, Portland, Maine 04101. For Defendants: Robert S. Hark, Esq., ISAACSON & RAYMOND, P.O. Box 891, Lewiston, Maine 042243-0891. Jeffrey A. Donner, Esq., SHAIN, SCHAFFER & RAFANELLO, 150 Morristown Road, Plaza 202, Bernardsville, NJ 07924.

CARTER

[F. Supp. 425] GENE CARTER, Chief Judge

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

This action arises from a land dispute in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, whereby Plaintiffs assert an interest in certain rights-of-way over Defendant's land, including the use of a road, certain paths and trails leading to the beach, and the beach. Plaintiffs advance several theories in support of their claims including easement by implication, easement by estoppel, and easement by prescription.1 Defendant has counterclaimed, alleging that Plaintiffs recorded an affidavit in the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds for the purpose of slandering, libeling, and defaming Defendant's title.

Defendant has moved for summary judgment on all counts. This Court will grant Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment on Count IV, alleging an easement by estoppel to the Japanese Pond Road, and on Count VII, insofar as that Count alleges easements by estoppel and by implication to the trails and beach on Defendant's land, but will deny summary judgment on Count VII with respect to the allegation of easements by prescription. This Court will otherwise deny Defendant's Motion on the remaining counts because genuine issues of material fact remain in dispute, precluding summary judgment.

Plaintiffs have moved for summary judgment on Count III, alleging an easement by implication, and on Defendant's counterclaim. This Court will grant Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment on Defendant's Counterclaim alleging libel and slander of title. The Court will deny Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment on Count III, finding genuine issues of material fact are in dispute with respect to the claim of an easement by implication to the Japanese Pond Road.

 

While viewing cases, Jurisline.com adds a command bar to the bottom of your browser.  The commands make it easy for you to download the case, return to the hit list, initiate a new search, etc.

Downloading

Jurisline.com delivers downloaded cases via email.  Delivery is rapid. The cases come in beautifully formatted RTF (Rich Text Format).  They have two columns with right margin justification and page footers.

Some discussion list members have reported difficulty in using the RTF files downloaded from Jurisline.com, but I have not experienced this.  I checked and found that this probably is more likely to be experienced by users of Wordperfect.  The files were saved to RTF using Microsoft Word and its RTF converter might not generate quite the lingua franca that RTF is intended to be.

. . . What You Don't See

Scope, Coverage, Timeliness

Following is what Jurisline.com's site said about its scope, coverage, and timeliness as of January 6, 2000.

Federal Jurisdictions
U.S. Supreme Court 1956 through first quarter 1999
1st Circuit Court of Appeals and District Courts early 1900's through 1998
2nd Circuit Court of Appeals and District Courts early 1900's through 1998
3rd Circuit Court of Appeals and District Courts early 1900's through first quarter 1999
4th Circuit Court of Appeals and District Courts early 1900's through first quarter 1999
5th Circuit Court of Appeals and District Courts early 1900's through 1998
6th Circuit Court of Appeals and District Courts early 1900's through 1998
7th Circuit Court of Appeals and District Courts early 1900's through first quarter 1999
8th Circuit Court of Appeals and District Courts early 1900's through 1998
9th Circuit Court of Appeals and District Courts early 1900's through first quarter 1999
10th Circuit Court of Appeals and District Courts early 1900's through 1998
11th Circuit Court of Appeals and District Courts early 1900's through 1998
District of Columbia Court of Appeals and District Court early 1900's through 1998
Federal Circuit Court of Appeals early 1900's through 1998
State Jurisdictions
California - Supreme, Appellate and Superior Courts early 1900's through first quarter 1999
Delaware - Supreme, Chancery and Superior Courts early 1900's through first quarter 1999
District of Columbia - Court of Appeals early 1940's through third quarter 1999
Florida - Supreme Court 1880's through fourth quarter 1998
Florida - District Courts of Appeal 1950's through fourth quarter 1998
Illinois - Supreme and Appellate Courts early 1900's through first quarter 1999
Massachusetts - Supreme, Appellate and Superior Courts early 1900's through first quarter 1999
New Jersey - Supreme Court, Superior Court, Court of Errors and Appeals, Court of Chancery and Perogative Court 1890's through third quarter 1999
New York - Supreme, Appellate and Trial Courts early 1900's through first quarter 1999
Pennsylvania - Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth
Courts
early 1900's through first quarter 1999
Rhode Island - Supreme Court early 1900's through first quarter 1999
Texas - Supreme Court 1880's through third quarter 1998
Texas - Court of Criminal Appeals and Court of Civil Appeals 1940's through third quarter 1998
Vermont - Supreme Court early 1900's through first quarter 1999

"First quarter 1999" is glossy.  "1940's" is vague.  "Early 1900's" does not achieve vagueness.  Statute coverage is limited to the United States Code and the state of New York.  I have not found where the system documents how current either database is.  For no case law or statute database does the system document the frequency of updates.  A stock email reply from Jurisline.com on December 10, 1999 said:

With respect to the frequency of updates to our material, Jurisline.com does not intend to compete with fee-based services in making cases immediately available.  Accordingly, users requiring "up-to-the-minute" materials should consider using Jurisline.com together with a fee-based service. We anticipate updating each database at least twice every quarter, although for the immediate term our emphasis is on expanding the total number of jurisdictions covered.

As to expansion of coverage, the same message said, "We plan to add cases and statutes for at least ten new states to our database each quarter."

Accuracy / Error Rate

I have not found where the online system documents the source of the information in its databases.  The same stock email message of December 10, 1999 said:

We have spent a large amount of time compiling our content from a number of different sources, including directly from official court sources within each jurisdiction, as well as from third party vendors. Whenever possible our data is received in electronic format to eliminate the risk of typographical errors resulting from manually keyed material. Our cases and statutes are identical to the official versions of the law, and we are confident that the combination of our database and proprietary search engine technology will match, if not surpass, any competing system covering official sources for the same time period.

In the searching I've done on Jurisline.com so far, I have seen nothing indicating data error rates beyond what is inevitable, even on large, established commerical services.  While I generally like VersusLaw's V., I had to report5 that its data is blemished with typos that do not occur in the original sources.  I have seen nothing like that on Jurisline.com.

Who Is Jurisline.com?

Why Does It Matter?

The entity or people behind Jurisline.com is, as a source I trust implicitly, Genie Tyburski, says, "a bit of a mystery."6

Searchers are raising questions and speculations about the service. One speculation mentioned on LAW-LIB is that, "Since the site requires registration before you can print or download," the site might be "owned or a front for a company whose purpose is collecting email addresses and names," that the site could be "designed to 'harvest' the names of people in the corporate or legal field."7  If that speculation were true, it would be enough to raise privacy issues.  A searcher might be willing to trade whatever the privacy price might be for the information.  That is an individual choice.  For professional searcher's however, there are additional issues beyond personal choice.  The list member who raised the speculation reasoned from there to a possible implication about the quality of the data:

This site at least offers some value for the information, but I would not be surprised to find that it is not accurate, or updated in a timely manner.8

If the site is designed "to lure people into giving them their name and email address which they then sell to interested clients,"9 confidence in the accuracy and timeliness of the data suffers.  You can make whatever personal choices you want about risks to your privacy.  As professional searchers who find information for others that will affect their lives and fortunes, however, can we ignore the potential that the data is not accurate or that it is not timely?  That is a risk I am not willing to take.  For any professional searcher entertaining the notion of taking that risk, I recommend finding a bibliography on librarian malpractice and acquainting himself or herself with the body of literature on that subject.

Site Documentation

The list member who raised the speculation was careful to say that it is a speculation, that he had no actual knowledge of the site's being a lure to harvest information about people who use legal information.  He based his speculation on experience in and knowledge of the Web world.  His speculation could be refuted by the site's documentation.  But it isn't.  Remember how fuzzy the site is about scope, coverage, and timeliness.  The site also fails to document sufficiently the source or sources of its case law and statutory data.

When you follow the "About Us" link from the welcome page, you expect to learn about Jurisline.com.  But you don't.  The information at that link is more like what you might expect from a "Contact Us" link.  Excerpting the information at that link, this is all you get:

About Jurisline.com

Jurisline.com provides a dynamic and comprehensive database of premium legal resources to an online audience consisting of attorneys and other members of the legal and business community. Jurisline.com offers its users an unparalleled ability to search, review and download critical legal information at no cost. Our mission is to continue to develop and provide services and information that respond to the evolving and demanding needs of our users. 

Please send suggestions, questions or comments to us as follows: 

Feedback and General Questions
To submit a general comment or question to Jurisline.com. 

Product Information 
To be notified of future Jurisline.com services and offerings. 

Technical Support 

To tell us about any difficulties you have experienced in using our
web site. 

Advertising 
To request information about advertising on our web site. 

Employment 
To inquire about a job or to submit your resume to Jurisline.com. 

Copyright © 1999 Jurisline.com. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Service. 

There are other ways you can try to learn about the people or entity behind an information service on the Web.  You can read their copyright notice or their terms of use.  Those should identify formally the legal person or entity who claims copyright, who disclaims implied warranties, etc.  For Jurisline.com, those links don't tell you that information.  Jurisline.com "cards" you, but you cannot "card" Jurisline.com.

There are ways to look even more deeply into a site.  The HTML source code of a Web page often contains information about the page editor that was used to create the page, the author, the last date the page was modified, etc.  For example, at the home page for VersusLaw at www.versuslaw.com, the HTML source code discloses the following (portions excised for the sake of brevity, reformatted for the sake of clarity):

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
<!--Modified 11/3/98 AActon --><!--Modified July 30, 1998-->
<!--Created May 24, 1998-->
<!--By Bill Wittress-->
<html><head><title>VersusLaw Home Page</title>
<meta content="Microsoft FrontPage 4.0" name="GENERATOR"></head>

If VersusLaw effaced from its Web pages as rendered through browsers all information identifying the persons or entity behind their service, at least the raw HTML source code for their pages would tell you that someone named Bill Wittress updated the page on July 30, 1998 using Microsoft FrontPage.  In a similar manner, pages often will contain copyright notices and other information in the raw HTML that provides plain disclosure of, or at least clues and leads about, the persons or entity behind the service. By default, the dozens of Web page design programs I've tried save information like what is illustrated above from VersusLaw.  Users of those programs would have to expressly change their settings if they wanted to efface, even from the raw HTML, all trace of who designed the page, on what date, and with what software.  Jurisline.com's pages are immaculately clean of any such information.  Of course, there are hundreds of page design programs and some of them probably default to such a purely anonymous behavior.

Email and Snailmail Inquiry

On December 7, 1999 I sent email to the addresses on Jurisline.com's "About Us" page.  In case they might have any doubt about the genuiness of my inquiry, I identified myself and provided information about my publications including links to previous articles on the Web.  I said:

I am preparing an article reviewing Jurisline.com for Law Library Resource Xchange (LLRX) and would like to ask some questions that I could not find answered on you site.

 My email set forth some of the questions:

  • Aside from the help pages, is there a user's guide or manual? How may that be obtained?

  • How can a user determine the exact coverage and scope of a database? If I only report what your coverage pages says, e.g., "Early 1900's ...", professional readers will consider that inadequate and they are likely not to place sufficient faith in my article or your service.

  • Where/how do you obtain the cases and statutes?

  • Are the databases growing, is the coverage and scope expanding? Is there a plan or projection for additions?

  • What is the timeliness of the files; how often are the databases updated. E.g., if I am searching on a Thursday, will I know that cases reported through the Friday that ended last week are in the database?

  • When downloading cases from a search, is there a way to give user name and password only once per session and not have to do that for each case?

  • Is Jurisline.com a publicly traded company? Where can we learn more about the identity of the company?

  • How can users who make a commitment to learning and using Jurisline.com be assured that it will continue to be there and to grow?

I asked if they would provide me the name and telephone number of a person I could talk with.

I received a reply that had two parts.  The first part specially responded to my email.  The second part was their stock response to any inquiry.  I've already related above the substantive information in the stock reply and it was posted by a list member on LAW-LIB where many of you already read it.  Here I quote only the first part that you have not seen:

Subject:      Jurisline.com
Date:         Fri, 10 Dec 1999 12:17:32 -0500
From:         <info@jurisline.com>
Organization: jurisline.com
To:           <pastel@lyrea.com>

T.R.,

We would of course be very interested in having you do a review of our site. Jurisline.com is commited to providing members of the general public with free access to comprehensive and fully searchable legal research materials. As we are currently in final beta and are still making daily additions to the content and functionality of our site, it may be preferable to wait until we are closer to the official launch for you to do your story so that your coverage is accurate. We will certainly notify you well in advance of the launch date so that you will have time to prepare your piece. In the meantime, below is some background information on our company and website which you may find useful.

* * *

The team at Jurisline.com

After thinking about that reply for a few days and reading list traffic, I followed up:

Subject:       Re: Jurisline.com
Date:          Tue, 14 Dec 1999 17:59:06 -0700
From:          "T. R. Halvorson" <pastel@btigate.com>
Reply-To:      pastel@lyrea.com
Organization:  Pastel Programming Co.
To:            info@jurisline.com
CC:            spacific@cais.com, cchick@netcom.com
References:    1

Dear Team at Jurisline.com,

Thank you for the response.

I have read and reread the response and believe that I have assimilated the information.

Be assured, anything I write will be accurate as of the date I write it, and if the service still is in beta at that time, my article will disclose that fact to readers. No article about any online service is or purports to be the last word on the subject; everyone understands and assumes that online services continue to evolve. Successful online services are the subject of continuing streams of articles.

An important key to providing readers the best information is having a human contact with the service. That's what I asked for in my first message. Is Jurisline.com unwilling to provide that?

T. R.

On the same day that I sent the first email, December 7, 1999, I tried faxing to Jurisline.com an inquiry on my law firm letterhead.  I used the fax number of the domain registrant listed for Jurisline.com in Network Solutions' WHOIS directory.  The fax would not pick up, so I sent separate hardcopy originals of the letter to the registrant and the technical contact mentioned in the WHOIS record.  Those letters were sent Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested.  The return receipts for both letters came back to me signed.  Each letter was received by its recipient on December 13, 1999.


click for larger image


click for larger image

As of this writing, I have received no further response from anyone at Jurisline.com.

Looking Online for Jurisline

At least one LAW-LIB member did some research trying to find out who Jurisline.com is.10  Genie Tyburski also reports on research into this mystery.  In the December 7, 1999 issue of TVC Alert,11 she writes:

Why is it a mystery? Jurisline.com seemingly targets professional legal researchers.  It claims extensive coverage, excepting federal district court materials, and offers a database query language similar to Westlaw. Although researchers must register with the site to take full advantage of its service, it does not charge for searches or retrieval at this time.

BUT WAIT! Before rushing to conduct real legal research at the site, note that it fails to provide information about the entity/ies behind it or the source(s) of its data. Although Network Solutions' WHOIS database of Internet domain names reveals a business registrant, a search of nationwide corporate records found no business registration for the company. Dun & Bradstreet also yielded no information about it or the contact person. The telephone number available on the WHOIS record matches a residential address in New York. A press release issued during late November 1999 by 10K Wizard cites an alliance with Jurisline.com but provides no additional information.

Searching Network Solutions' WHOIS directory on the domain "jurisline.com" yields this:

Registrant:
K&L Holdings (JURISLINE3-DOM)
575 Eighth Ave., Suite 511
New York, NY 10018
US

Domain Name: JURISLINE.COM

Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
EICHEN, LEE (LE1587) EICHEN230@AOL.COM
212-724-8388 (FAX) 212 724 8418
Billing Contact:
EICHEN, LEE (LE1587) EICHEN230@AOL.COM
212-724-8388 (FAX) 212 724 8418

Record last updated on 29-Sep-1999.
Record created on 07-Jul-1999.
Database last updated on 8-Jan-2000 12:48:39 EST.

Searching the same directory by name, using the string "name k&l holdings," yields this:

Aborting search 50 records found .....
K&L HOLDINGS (MDHIRE-DOM)           MDHIRE.COM
K&L Holdings (NVBAR3-DOM)           NVBAR.NET
K&L Holdings (FLBAR3-DOM)           FLBAR.NET
K&L Holdings (LAWFORFREE3-DOM)      LAWFORFREE.NET
K&L Holdings (HIBAR2-DOM)           HIBAR.ORG
K&L Holdings (AZBAR3-DOM)           AZBAR.NET
K&L Holdings (NEBAR2-DOM)           NEBAR.ORG
K&L Holdings (JURISLINE3-DOM)       JURISLINE.COM
K&L Holdings (PABAR3-DOM)           PABAR.COM
K&L Holdings (NDBAR-DOM)            NDBAR.COM
K&L Holdings (JURISLINE5-DOM)       JURISLINE.ORG
K&L Holdings (VTBAR2-DOM)           VTBAR.COM
K&L Holdings (CTBAR2-DOM)           CTBAR.COM
K&L Holdings (KSBAR2-DOM)           KSBAR.COM
K&L Holdings (NCBAR4-DOM)           NCBAR.NET
K&L Holdings (JURISLINE4-DOM)       JURISLINE.NET
K&L Holdings (TXBAR3-DOM)           TXBAR.NET
K&L Holdings (ALBAR2-DOM)           ALBAR.ORG
K&L Holdings (VABAR3-DOM)           VABAR.NET
K&L Holdings (OHBAR3-DOM)           OHBAR.NET
K&L Holdings (AKBAR7-DOM)           AKBAR.ORG
K&L Holdings (TNBAR2-DOM)           TNBAR.COM
K&L Holdings (KYBAR2-DOM)           KYBAR.COM
K&L Holdings (MDBAR3-DOM)           MDBAR.NET
K&L Holdings (WIBAR-DOM)            WIBAR.COM
K&L Holdings (MEBAR-DOM)            MEBAR.COM
K&L Holdings (NHBAR2-DOM)           NHBAR.COM
K&L Holdings (BUILDABILITY-DOM)     BUILDABILITY.COM
K&L Holdings (IABAR-DOM)            IABAR.COM
K&L Holdings (SCBAR2-DOM)           SCBAR.COM
K&L Holdings (WYBAR-DOM)            WYBAR.COM
K&L Holdings (LABAR4-DOM)           LABAR.ORG
K&L Holdings (WABAR3-DOM)           WABAR.NET
K&L Holdings (IDBAR2-DOM)           IDBAR.ORG
K&L Holdings (MABAR3-DOM)           MABAR.NET
K&L Holdings (ILBAR3-DOM)           ILBAR.NET
K&L Holdings (ONLINEDEVELOPER6-DOM) ONLINEDEVELOPER.COM
K&L Holdings (PINGBOMB-DOM)         PINGBOMB.COM
K&L Holdings (SDBAR2-DOM)           SDBAR.COM
K&L Holdings (POCKETPARTS-DOM)      POCKETPARTS.COM
K&L Holdings (COBAR3-DOM)           COBAR.NET
K&L Holdings (RIBAR4-DOM)           RIBAR.ORG
K&L Holdings (NMBAR2-DOM)           NMBAR.COM
K&L Holdings (ORBAR-DOM)            ORBAR.COM
K&L Holdings (ARBAR2-DOM)           ARBAR.ORG
K&L Holdings (GABAR5-DOM)           GABAR.COM
K&L Holdings (MTBAR-DOM)            MTBAR.COM
K&L Holdings (CABAR5-DOM)           CABAR.NET
K&L Holdings (NYBAR3-DOM)           NYBAR.NET
K&L Holdings (UTBAR-DOM)            UTBAR.COM

Notice that the search aborted after hitting on 50 records.  There might have been more.

Those domain names are curious.  Many of them follow this format:

  • a two-letter state abbreviation, e.g., pa (Pennsylvania), fl (Florida)
  • the word "bar"
  • .org, .com, or .net

They are domain names one might expect for state bar associations.  I was curious who might have other domains similarly formatted.  A search of Network Solutions' WHOIS directory on the string "name findlaw" yields, in part, the following:

Aborting search 50 records found .....
[omitting domains not in the mentioned format]
FindLaw (VABAR2-DOM)                VABAR.ORG
FindLaw (OHBAR2-DOM)                OHBAR.ORG
FindLaw (FLBAR-DOM)                 FLBAR.COM
FindLaw (FLBAR2-DOM)                FLBAR.ORG
FindLaw (ILBAR-DOM)                 ILBAR.COM
FindLaw (OHBAR-DOM)                 OHBAR.COM
FindLaw (WABAR-DOM)                 WABAR.ORG
FindLaw (MABAR2-DOM)                MABAR.ORG
FindLaw (CABAR3-DOM)                CABAR.ORG
FindLaw (VABAR-DOM)                 VABAR.COM

Although the listing shown here has only ten domains, the query returned 50 hits. I removed the ones not in the mentioned format.  There might have been more in the mentioned format.

Network Solutions provides another directory, its "dot com directory."  Go to that page and notice the green rectangle with the caption "Know the Web Address?"  Through January 5, 2000, a search using that feature and the string "jurisline" with the page's default .com ending returned the following:

K L'S ROCK AMERICA INC
1705 BROADWAY
NEW YORK, NY 
US

The "More Info" link from the result page added a zip code and telephone number:

10019-5903
212-757-3926

On the results page, there was a link that said, "Visit this site: mebar.com."  Clicking on that link indeed took my browser to www.mebar.com and the full Jurisline.com service.

Leaving aside for the moment the "Rock America" part of the name, note the superficial similarity of "K&L" and "K L's."  Someone on LAW-LIB had said that a principal in Jurisline.com is Ken Chow and WHOIS showed Lee Eichen as the Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact, and Billing Contact..  Does "K&L" = "Ken & Lee?"  It looked initially plausible that as the service proceeded through final public beta testing toward "'official' launch," the properties associated with the service might be transferred from a holding company to a duly organized corporation having similar leading name elements.  Should I have doubted Network Solutions' dot com directory?  Do you usually doubt it?

Searches on the Web for "K L's Rock America" yield hits that are about that company and do indicate the same address and telephone number.  Those pages talk about Mujibur & Sirajul's Rock America shop of Late Night with Dave Letterman fame.  The Ed Sullivan Theatre, the venue of Letterman's show, is at 1697 Broadway Ave, New York. A search for Mujibur & Sirajul finds fan pages mentioning Rock America and the same address and telephone number.  I promised you a stop at Rock America and the Ed Sullivan Theatre! Mujibur reportedly studied law at the University of Dhaka and Sirajul specialized in Bangladeshi literature.12  Might they be interested in a legal information service?  A leetul voice is saying to me, "You know this is the beginning of a bunny trail, don't you?"  But another voice is saying, "Maybe, but the trail started in Network Solutions' dot com directory and I have not followed it terribly far yet."

A search for credit reports on "K L's Rock America Inc" hit on a record with the same address and telephone number as shown in the dot com directory and the fan pages. A quick Web search of newspapers hit on "To Catch a Late Night with David Letterman, We'll Do ...", by Phil Miller in the Sunday, July 13, 1997 Salt Lake Tribune

    At 4:30 p.m., the line of ticket-holders forms in front of the Ed Sullivan Theater, now one of the best-known landmarks in a city full of them. Actually, the entire block is a tourist attraction, due to Letterman's frequent forays outside. TV has made tour stops of Rupert Jee's Hello Deli, just around the corner, and K&L's Rock America, a T-shirt shop operated by famous, and funny, proprietors Mujibur and Sirajul (yes, they're in there, signing autographs).

What's that?  Not "K L's Rock America" but "K&L's Rock America?" John Kiesewetter in "When Jerry Met Dave," Cincinnati Enquirer, Monday, February 24, 1997 has it the same way.  Taking another look those fan sites, they say "K&L's", not "K L's."  What's next?  Will I find that "K&L's Rock America," and hence Jurisline.com, are wholly owned subsidiaries of World Wide Pants?

"Naw," I thought.  "This cannot be right."  I called my colleague and friend for a reality check. She gave me a good email address for someone at Network Solutions. It's not one of those "Contact Us" addresses. It's an address where someone capable will actually read and respond.  I emailed Network Solutions at that address telling them about the different results for the same domain in their two directories, WHOIS and dot com directory.  I told them what kind of bunny trail the data in their database is creating. I said, "It is possible that [Mujibur & Sirajul's] corporation indeed owns www.jurisline.com, but it is an unexpected association for what looks like a serious legal research site."  I received a reply that they would look into it, and no later than January 8, 2000, searching the "dot com directory" for "jurisline" now yields "K&L Holdings."  Good thing I had asked my editors to perform the same search and confirm my earlier results, namely, K L's Rock America Inc, before any change could be made.

But not all the mirrors have been removed from the hall.  Even as of this writing (January 8, 2000), the dot com directory shows the following domains for K L's Rock America Inc:

K L'S ROCK AMERICA INC
Company Web Sites

1-15 of 15 

cabar.net        cobar.net
ctbar.com        flbar.net
gabar.com        hibar.org
iabar.com        idbar.org
ilbar.net        kybar.com
mabar.net        mdbar.net
mdhire.com       mebar.com
mnbar.com

Some of those domains also appeared in the WHOIS results for K&L Holdings.  Check that -- they all do but one, and that one could have been past the 50 hit limit of the search engine.

In December 1999 I browsed about a dozen of the K&L Holdings domains that look like they would be for state bar associations. At all the ones I browsed, I found the same pages as were at www.jurisline.com. Now those pages have been removed.  New pages have been substituted stating, for example at iabar.com:

You have reached www.IABAR.COM.
Please note: This site is not affiliated with any state bar or state bar association.

If you are looking for information of interest to members of the Iowa bar, including free legal research materials and information regarding CLE, please click here to visit jurisline.com.

If you are looking for the official web site of a state bar, please select from the list below:

Because generic Web search engine databases do not update as fast as pages change, for awhile you can still find the beginning snippets of the pages that used to exist at those domains and see that those snippets indicate the same pages that were at both those domains and at www.jurisline.com.

Since I'm working on a writer's budget, I searched the usual suspects on the "free" Web: AltaVista, AnyWho, Ask Jeeves!, Beaucoup!, BigFoot, CIIR Multiple Database Demonstration Corporation Annual Reports, DejaNews, DogPile, Excite, FastSearch, FindLaw, Free Edgar, Free Pint, Google, HotBot, Inference Find, Infoseek, Internet Sleuth, LawCrawler, LookSmart, Lycos, Magellan, Mamma.com, MetaCrawler, Ms. DaChanni, News Tracker, Northern Light, OnRamp, Planet Search, ProFusion, SavvySearch, SurfWax, U. S. Patent and Trademark Office, WebCrawler, WhoWhere?, Yahoo!, and more.  I looked for variations of Jurisline, Lee Eichen, Lee Eichen's email address, Ken Chow, K&L Holdings, K L's Rock America, and K&L's Rock America.  I found a bunch of interesting stuff, like the founding of the Harvard-Radcliffe Veritones, which is actually not just a bunny trail.  Insofar as it would answer questions searchers have about Jurisline.com, however, what I found was inconclusive.

While I believe I can do a fair job of finding what is on the Web and in legal databases myself, I do not hold myself out as being especially skilled in public records searching.  Lacking no confidence in the searching Genie Tyburski reported in TVC Alert, but wishing to go the extra mile before reporting to readers of LLRX, I engaged the best public records researcher I know. I gave Lynn Peterson of PFC Information Services Inc. Jurisline.com's URL, the leads available from LAW-LIB, and the leads available from Network Solutions' WHOIS directory and dot com directory.  I asked her to advise me what would be likely ways of finding out about Jurisline.com on a writer's budget.  The budget I gave her was constraining and you all know about the impact of budget on what you can do for your requestors.  There are more things she could have done had budget allowed. As I had on the "free" Web, she also found lots of interesting stuff through her sources, but insofar as it would answer questions searchers have about Jurisline.com, we're not sure yet of anything more than Genie found.

The stock email message from Jurisline.com of December 10, 1999 says, "Jurisline.com is a privately-held internet company based in New York which was formed by attorneys in 1998."  The only "K&L Holdings" on file with the New York Secretary of State as a corporation is "K & L Holding Corp." which was incorporated on July 24, 1973.  Neither K&L Holdings nor Jurisline has filed a registered assumed business name in New York City.  Directory assistance for the 212 area code provides no listing for K&L Holdings or Jurisline.  Of the three individuals we believe to be associated with Jurisline.com, we found only one of them to be an attorney.  In the cases of Ken Chow and Mark Patton, we only looked in Martindale-Hubbell for New York and Pennsylvania records. Lee Levin Eichen earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard in June 1989, his Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania in May 1994, was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar on December 6, 1994 and to the New York bar in January 1997.  The New York bar lists his address as 388 Greenwich St., New York, NY 10013.  That is the address of a Solomon Smith Barney office.  Solomon Smith Barney's web site provides site search powered by Excite for Web Servers 1.0.  A search of the Solomon Smith Barney site hits on two municipal bond documents in PDF format, but on opening the documents, we cannot find his name.13  Telephone calls to the office yield responses that no Lee Eichen is working there.  I have a hunch that he was among the founders, if not the founder, of the Harvard-Radcliffe Veritones and that he was an actor while at Harvard.  An "Individual by Region PROBE (Eastern)" on his name via CDB Infotek performed January 5, 2000 yielded nothing.

As you might imagine, "Ken Chow" is a common name.  We found lots of interesting information on different Ken Chows.  We're not sure yet which, if any, of the Ken Chows we found is associated with Jurisline.com.  In relation to the questions searchers have raised about Jurisline.com, one in particular makes me keenly curious. 

Jurisline.com's "Copyright" notice page says "Jurisline and the Jurisline logo" are trademarks of "Jurisline," but a trademark search through Jurisline on the word "Jurisline" or "jurisline" yields no hits.  So it's not registered with the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office.  Then where?  Or is it not registered?  Or is there a defect in Jurisline.com's trademark searching facility?  As with public records searching, I consider trademark searching a specialty.  Judy Fair-Spaulding is one of the three people who designed DIALOG's TRADEMARKSCAN.  Combining her abilities, DIALOG's trademark databases, and the power of DIALINDEX, aircraft not flying below radar level typically can be spotted.  Every time I say "the power of DIALINDEX," I'm tempted to say "the power and glory of DIALINDEX."  I engaged Judy to look for Jurisline and K&L Holdings.  She searched DIALOG's federal and state trademark files, all other trademark files, and DIALINDEX (remember, this is touching 572 files, and consider what's in those files) looking in the various ways that accomplish the most broad search for Jurisline and K&L Holdings.  The only things I saw in the search log that might, by a guess or a stretch, relate to our subject were a few real estate transactions in Philadelphia.  Lynn had found two prior addresses for Lee Eichen in Philadelphia.  Judy found four newspaper reports of real estate transactions in DIALOG file 633 involving a K. L. Holdings Corp.  Using one's imagination, suppose that is an entity in which Eichen's family is involved and he used a casual style of its name when registering the Jurisline.com domain.    That's quite a stretch, and it's the closest thing detectable by radar.  Should we go for sonar?

Perhaps Lynn, Judy and I, and Genie before us, have missed something, given our budgets, but it would not take more than one of us or one of you to find FindLaw, LawGuru, CounselQuest, Law Journal EXTRA!, VersusLaw, LOIS, Westlaw, or Lexis. None of the searching we did should have been necessary.  People who provide information to legal professionals usually have some notion of what those professionals require for the sake of confidence in the service.  Does Jurisline.com want professional searchers to trust them or not? If so, it is a simple thing to do what all legitimate online information services do: document the site and respond adequately to inquiries. Most companies want to be found.

Pick Up the Telephone

Throughout this process I had also been picking up the phone and calling numbers we were finding.  I got either no answer, answering machines, or people who said they were not the ones we were looking for.  When I got an answering machine, I left a message identifying myself by name, city, state, and telephone number.  I said that I was preparing an article for Law Library Resource Xchange about Jurisline and asked, if they were the person associated with Jurisline, that they return my call.  Among the numbers I called are all the ones disclosed in WHOIS and dot com directory.  Yes, I admit it:  I even called Rock America.  The polite Bangladeshi woman who answered the phone repeated "Jurisline" back to me clearly and said nobody there knew anything about it.

On January 10, 2000 I telephoned 212-279-1515. During the call I took notes. It was easy. The person who answered was guarded.  Conversation did not flow rapidly.  Immediately following the call I turned to my word processor and recorded my recollection of the conversation.

A man answered, "Jurisline." I identified myself by name, city, and state. I said, "I am calling about an article I am preparing on Jurisline for Law Library Resource Xchange. Who should I speak with about the service?" "What sort of questions," he asked. "The ones I emailed and postal mailed back in December. I don't know whether you in particular saw those." 'No, I'm just basically answering the phone. Are the questions about content?" "Some are. We could start there." "If it's about content ... I could give you to the person who handles content." "Sure." "Unfortunately I think that person is gone on vacation ... so if I could take your name and number, um, I could leave it for him when he gets in." I repeat my name and give my telephone number. "Great," he said in a concluding tone.   "Can you tell me who this person is?" "The person's name is Ken Chow." "When might he be expected back?" "Tuesday." "You mean, tomorrow?" "Yes, I guess that would be tomorrow." "You'd rather not give me his business phone number?" "Um, you can call the main switchboard here." "Is this number that I called the main switchboard." "Yes." "Does he have an extension?" "Uh, no. You just call the main number and they'll put you through." "I see. Okay, thanks for your help."

The main switchboard number, I should have told you, is unlisted.14

Lynn Peterson called the same number that same afternoon. A man who later identified himself as Mark Patton answered, "Jurisline." "Who would a person need to speak with about advertising on Jurisline?" "Ken Chow."

Having not heard back from Ken Chow the following morning, in the afternoon of January 11, 2000 I again telephoned 212-279-1515 and asked whether Ken Chow had returned from vacation.  The person who answered the phone said he had but that he had stepped out for lunch.  I asked when he might be expected back.  The person said, "I don't know.  In about an hour, I guess."  I am in the Mountain Time zone, so I asked, "Is it about 2:40 your time?"  The person answered, "Yes," and asked if I wanted him to take my number.  I gave him my number, but received no call.  In the message on LAW-LIB where I got the non-published Jurisline main switchboard number, the list member said:

Their telephone number is 212-279-1515. One of the principals is Ken Chow. I have left several messages for him, but he has not called me back.

That message was posted December 10, 1999.  I checked.  As of January 11, 2000, Ken Chow still had not called that list member back.  At noon Mountain Time on January 12, 2000, I was on deadline for submission of this article.  As I type this sentence, it is now 12:40 p.m. here, and 2:40 p.m. at Jurisline.  Having heard nothing from Jurisline or Ken Chow, I am about to package the articles files and email them to the editors.  If someone does call later, perhaps it will be possible on another date to provide readers an update if we learn anything new from the call.

Afterthought

Jurisline.com says in its stock email message:

Please contact us if you or anyone else in your organization would be interested in serving as a member of our advisory board.

There's an idea.

Footnotes

  1. T. R. Halvorson, "VersusLaw's V.:  A View through the Southern California Online Users Group Rating Scale Lenses", Law Library Resource Xchange (LLRX), March 15, 1999. <back to text>
  2. T. R. Halvorson, "The LOIS Law Library: A View through the Southern California Online Users Group Rating Scale Lenses," Law Library Resource Xchange (LLRX), March 1, 1999. <back to text>
  3. Reva Basch, "Measuring the Quality of the Data: Report on the Fourth Annual SCOUG Retreat," Database Searcher, vol. 6, no. 8, October 1990, pp. 18-24.  <back to text>
  4. See, for example, the archive of messages on LAW-LIB for December, 1999, threads "New Legal Research Site" and "Jurisline.com info." <back to text>
  5. See note 1.  <back to text>
  6. TVC Alert, 7 December 1999, a service of The Virtual Chase, Genie Tyburski, Web Manager.  <back to text>
  7. Message on LAW-LIB.   <back to text> harvest message
  8. See note 7.   <back to text>
  9. See note 7.   <back to text>
  10. See message posted on LAW-LIB by Yale M. Lansky, Electronic Services Librarian, Jackson Lewis Schnitzler & Krupman, New York, New York.  <back to text>
  11. See note 6.   <back to text>
  12. Michael Quinn, "The Amos 'n' Sirajul flap (Bangladeshi immigrants on the Letterman show)," Time, vol. 143, no. 26, June 27 1994, p. 24.  <back to text>
  13. www.salomonsmithbarney.com/mutualfunds/pdf/njmu_a.pdf and www.salomonsmithbarney.com/prod_svc/mut_funds/sb/pdf/njmu_a.pdf   <back to text>
  14. I got it from a message on LAW-LIB.   <back to text>

Copyright © 1999-2000 T. R. Halvorson.  All Rights Reserved.