Ten best practices for PLE websites

May 18, 2007

My recent post of highlights from the American Bar Association’s standards for PLEI in legal aid has quickly become one of the most visited posts I’ve made here. To follow that up, I will highlight today another ABA document: its 2003 Best Practice Guidelines for Legal Information Web Site Providers [126 KB PDF].

I suspect that some Canadian PLE providers are more advanced in their web delivery strategies, and that these best practices will seem obvious. Nevertheless, here they are, summarized:

  1. Contact information, in the form of at least a mailing address (and preferably an email address and telephone number), should be listed clearly on the website and ideally on every page.
  2. Dates on substantive content, indicating the time of preparation or last review, should be included—and automated dating systems should not be used.
  3. Likewise, jurisdiction information, noting for what geographic areas the information is accurate, ought to be included.
  4. Sites should also feature a conspicuous notice that legal information is not legal advice.
  5. There should be links to other sites and resources that might also help users.
  6. Where possible and appropriate, substantive content should be accompanied by citations and links to relevant case law and legislation.
  7. Referrals, in the form of information on how and where to get additional help and advice, should be provided.
  8. Permission for any content used from other sources and sites should be obtained.
  9. The terms and conditions of site use ought to be conspicuous.
  10. And a clear and conspicuous privacy statement should be included as well.

How helpful and complete is this list? Is this even useful to Canadian PLE providers, or could PLEAC members benefit from a more advanced set of best practices?

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