Krista Lindhard is a Reference Librarian at Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP in Washington, D.C. She is also an EISIL content author.
The practice of law is becoming increasingly international. If you work in a private law firm, that means you are likely to encounter international legal research questions more frequently. Fortunately, there is a new tool to help you answer these questions more effectively and efficiently: EISIL, the Electronic Information System for International Law. This free resource is designed for anyone – from the international law novice to the expert – who needs to do international legal research. EISIL covers topics across the breadth of international law – including several topics that are particularly relevant for private practice – and offers many valuable features for the law firm user.
Valuable Features for the Law Firm User
When providing research services to attorneys and clients, you need to have confidence in the quality of your research tools. One of the most valuable features of EISIL is the reliability of the information. EISIL authors carefully choose resources based on authenticity and quality. For primary documents, links are provided to the best sources of the documents, such as the United Nations and other major international organizations. When possible, an alternate link to another authoritative source is provided in case of technical difficulties with the main link. Web sites and research guides are also chosen based on the quality of the sites and the authority of the sites’ creators.
The value-added information provided in EISIL records is equally reliable. Each record contains a brief description, which helps you quickly determine whether the document or web site meets your needs. For primary documents, the record includes one or more legal citations to authoritative print sources that can be used in court documents or articles. Finally, since everything on the web is subject to change, records and links are reviewed on a regular basis to verify the accuracy of the information.
EISIL is easy to use, which is crucial when time is of the essence. If you are looking for a specific document such as a treaty, you can find it by either browsing or searching. All of the topics are clearly presented on the home page, so you can see at a glance everything covered by EISIL and quickly browse to the section you need. If you do not know what topic(s) your treaty might fall under, or if you prefer searching, there is an excellent search function.
There is a simple search box at the top of every page. For more flexibility, use the advanced search page, which allows you to do a broad search of the entire site, or narrow your search to a specific field such as Title or Description, or to a particular type of resource such as primary document. A very handy feature of the advanced search page is the box to search for an exact word, phrase or acronym. If you are asked to find a treaty such as CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), but you do not know the full title, you can simply use this box to search for the acronym and you will retrieve the record for the treaty itself and for the organization that administers the treaty.
In addition to being useful for finding specific documents, EISIL is an excellent tool for beginning research in an unfamiliar area of the law. This may be particularly useful if your firm acquires a new practice group or simply takes on a new case with an international scope. You can browse the topics and learn what subtopics exist, find the major legal instruments, and discover the best web sites on the topic, including research guides and bibliographies that will assist you in further research.
Once you have found the information, EISIL offers a number of delivery mechanisms to get the information to the people who need it. Individual records may be saved by clicking the “Save Record” box above the record text. You may then download the records as a Word document, print the records or email them. There are also several options for displaying the information you see when you browse a topic or get search results. You can simply view the title of each document, or you can show the description under the title. You can also specify the type of record (primary document, web site or research guide) and the number of items to display on a page. For more information on using EISIL, see Looking for International Law? EISIL It! by Marci Hoffman and Jill Watson.
Topics for the Law Firm User
EISIL includes several topics that are particularly relevant for attorneys in private practice:
International Economic Law– including GATT/WTO, International Financial Law, Regulation of Foreign Investment, Competition (Antitrust), International Arbitration; Private International Law– including Finance & Banking, Family & Children, International Judicial Assistance and Jurisdiction and Judgments; and International Dispute Settlement– including Arbitration, Mediation and Conciliation and Transnational Litigation.
Other topics such as International Human Rights may also be useful in non-billable work such as pro bono cases, writing articles or teaching law school classes.
The next time you get an international legal research project, whether it is your first or your hundredth, try using EISIL – a free, easy to use tool to help you find reliable, high-quality international legal information in a timely manner. Don’t just search for it – EISIL it!