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Free Remote Access to Legal Resources Now Available
Find the Law—from Home
Updated 3:20 p.m.
CONCORD---The New Hampshire Law Library is participating in a new pilot project that provides the public with free remote access to Westlaw, an extensive online data base for legal reference materials that is widely used by attorneys to research state and federal laws, regulations and court cases.
The project is part of an ongoing commitment by the Law Library and the state court system to improve access to justice, especially for persons who cannot afford a lawyer or simply want to represent themselves in court. Westlaw offers a wide range of online resources that can help them prepare their case including previous court decisions that relate to their claim, find laws and statutes that might apply to their case, as well as newspaper and magazine articles, public records, law journals, law reviews, and legal forms.
“Access to Westlaw can help people representing themselves obtain the legal materials to explain their concerns and support their arguments,” law librarian Mary Searles said.
“Rather than Googling and hoping the information you find is correct, Westlaw guarantees accuracy and reliability,” Searles said. “Even if you are not thinking about going to court, but have a legal concern, Westlaw can help you figure that out,” Searles said.
Attorney Mark C. Rouvalis, co-chair of the Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission commended the law library’s innovative efforts to “expand the ability of New Hampshire residents to research and support their legal needs.” Remote access to Westlaw helps implement the Commission’s goal of increasing public access to legal information, especially for low-income people, older people, and people with disabilities, Rouvalis said.
The one year pilot project is funded with $37,500 in existing reserves in the Law Library Revolving Fund. That Fund is supported by fees on out-of-state lawyers seeking temporary admission to appear in individual cases. The pilot project will be monitored by the Judicial Branch and assessed for effectiveness.
There are now two ways for users to access Westlaw for free.
Unlimited use of Westlaw, for free, is available at public libraries in Derry, Portsmouth and Littleton, or in person at the NH Law Library in Concord, located at the Supreme Court Building in Concord. Library staff are available at all four sites to assist patrons in using the research tools available through Westlaw,
For those who are unable to visit one of the four libraries, remote access to Westlaw is available through a link on the Law Library. Users are required to complete a OnePass registration and validate their email address before accessing the online content. Research sessions time out after 90 minutes and there are limitations on the number of free downloads.
“If you try remote access and need more help navigating the Westlaw data bases, you can go to one of the library locations,” Searles said. “Whether through the library or remote access, we want to bring reliable legal information to the people who need it, and at no cost,” she said.