The Internet is an important tool for researching legal issues, but to ensure the information you are relying on is from a legitimate source, evaluate the site for credibility and accuracy.
To quickly evaluate a website, ask yourself the following:
- Does the information on the site apply to BC or Canada as a whole?
- Who created the information?
- Look for who provides the information and what their credentials are. You can usually find this under "About us." Credible resources include the government, the courts, educational institutions, libraries, bar associations, law societies, non-profits, and public interest law groups.
- Legitimate websites will also have a way to contact the organization.
- Is the website accurate and clear?
- Does the website cite their sources, tell the reader where they got their information, or on what they based their opinions?
- Is the information up to date?
- Most good websites tell you when the information was written or last updated. In most legal fields, anything more than five years old is considered outdated.
- Does the website ask for money?
- There are many high quality websites that provide their information free of charge.
- Does the website claim to offer advice?
- Beware of websites that claim to offer legal advice or ask for personal information. Nothing replaces the advice of a lawyer. Look for a disclaimer that describes the limitations and authority of the site's content.
Be careful about providing your email address or other personal information on websites that you don’t know.
Make sure you are not asked to pay any fees or charges for information.