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December 18th, 2000
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Wisconsin Law on the Internet

In addition to Westlaw and Lexis, there are a number of other electronic sources for primary law in Wisconsin. While some of these resources, such as the Lois Wisconsin Series, are available at the Law Library only, this article will only be covering those resources that are freely available over the Internet. Finding alternatives to costly Lexis and Westlaw research may be especially important to you December graduates!

Although it may be a cliche, remember that when working with free Internet resources, "you get what you pay for." Because these sites don't have the highly paid staff that databases like Westlaw and Lexis do, it stands to reason that the design and scope of free resources cannot match those of subscription databases. However, this doesn't mean that you cannot find accurate information at a free site, especially those produced by government agencies and academic institutions. It does mean that when working with any electronic resource, you should always evaluate its authority (who is the author / publisher and what is their motivation for making the information available).

Sources of Wisconsin Law

The UW Law Librarians have compiled a list of Wisconsin law sites on our web page at http://library.law.wisc.edu/elecresources/internet/wisconsinlaw.htm. Resources are divided by the three branches of government - administrative, judicial, and legislative. (There is also a section for consumer-related legal resources on Wisconsin law.)

Administrative Code & Register

The Revisor of Statutes Bureau has made the full text of the current Wisconsin Administrative Code available from their web site at http://www.legis.state.wi.us/rsb/code/. The Administrative Register is also available from November 1997 to the present. These agency rules and regulations are available in both HTML and PDF format. Search full text or index by keyword or browse table of contents.

Supreme Court & Court of Appeals Cases

The Wisconsin State Bar has made available recent opinions from the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals at http://www.wisbar.org/legalres/. Unfortunately, dates of coverage only range from 1995-present and searching is limited. Users may browse by party name, docket number, or date. Opinions are available in HTML or WordPerfect. (WordPerfect files are compressed and must be downloaded. To expand, save file to your desktop and double click on it to open.)

Statutes, Acts, Bills, etc.

You can find the full text of Wisconsin Statutes and Acts from the last three legislative sessions on the Revisor of Statutes Bureau web site at http://www.legis.state.wi.us/rsb/. Users can search by keyword or browse the index. Text is available in HTML or PDF.

Wisconsin Acts, Bills, and Resolutions are also available from the last three legislative sessions on the State of Wisconsin Legislature site at http://www.legis.state.wi.us/billtext.html. At this site, you can view the full text of the proposal as well as its history. Users can retrieve by bill / act / resolution number or keyword search the full text. Text is available in HTML or PDF.

Written by: Bonnie Shucha
Reference & Electronic Services Librarian
bjshucha@facstaff.wisc.edu

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