Sunday, October 25, 2009

Washington State Legal Community Search and the ProtoType Bar Association (PTBA)

The ProtoType Bar Association (PTBA) is a project to help heal the Justice Gap by prototyping tools for free distribution.

The first PTBA project is the Washington Legal Community Custom Search. Sometimes you need to search the websites of a group of related bar associations or the like. Defining and using such a group search is easy, using Google Custom Search (GCS; and no doubt other search engines have or will have similar features.)

The first time I had this problem, I was looking for references to PBLAC, a term used in the Washington State Legal Community to denote the Pro Bono and Legal Aid Committee. Several organizations had something to say about PBLAC, and their information was scattered across their respective websites. Use of non-custom search engines combined references that were appropriate for my purpose with much wholly unrelated material involving blood transfusions and so on.

I therefore constructed a GCS to search only those websites belonging to member organizations of the Washington State Legal Community. Creating it was easy; from Google's GCS page, I selected "New", I gave it the name "Washington Legal Community Search", set a few parameters and entered about 40 sites of regional, minority and subject matter bar associations, plus courts and the like. GCS created a javascript easily embedded in websites, and it worked right, the first time and every time!

I have not figured out how to add JavaScript to WordPress or FaceBook; as a result, the only parts of the PTBA Web Complex hosting the WAlaw GCS is the blog, at

COVERAGE: WAlaw currently covers:

What sites should be added?
Who volunteers to keep this list updated?
What other GSCs would be helpful? It is entirely possible that other states may find something like this helpful.

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