Good blog post from Law.com about tools that are available online to locate personal information on people.
Here are examples of how you can use Web sites to find people or to learn about their background:
- Social networking: Trying to track down someone’s address and you’ve had no luck using their name? Consider tracking them through teenage children’s names by visiting social network sites like myspace.com or www.facebook.com.
These types of sites are now even sprouting up for boomers and elders, as evidenced by www.eons.com. Visit it to learn if the person you are trying to track has a profile.
Social networking sites are not the only place people are posting personal information about themselves. A family law attorney recently shared an anecdote about the embarrassing information that her client posted to an online dating site discovered by the other side. To dig up dirt, see sites such as match.com or jdate.com.
Classmates.com is not just for reconnecting with your long lost classmate. It’s the secret weapon of many private investigators. Search by a woman’s maiden name and you might discover her married name. Search by a company’s name and date range to identify people who worked at the company where your client was sexually harassed. You just might find a willing witness.
- Blogs: If you need to learn about someone’s background, cell phone or fax number, read their blog. People typically add personal information to their blogs, not to mention provide a taste of their personality. For example, judging from the entries on a well-known lawyer’s blog, he clearly has a dry sense of humor. This is something you would not learn from his profile at his traditional law firm Web site. Look for blogs at search.blogger.com.
- Podcasts: What better way to learn about someone than listening to their podcast? You might learn about the opposition expert’s real opinion as you listen. Search for general topic podcasts at Ipodder, www.ipodder.org and legal topic podcasts at The Blogs of Law, www.theblogsoflaw.com.
- PowerPoint presentations: Some expert witnesses’ Microsoft PowerPoint presentations from conferences get posted to their Web site or the conference Web site. You may not only be able to learn what that person really thinks by viewing PowerPoints online, but by looking in the editing mode, you can read their notes.
Find PowerPoints by using the Advanced Menu on Google (or Yahoo), entering a person’s name into the search box and then limiting your results to the file format PPT.
Better yet, is there some inside information you could retrieve from a corporate presentation posted online? Inside information from Google Inc. was uncovered this way. Locate someone’s PowerPoint presentation by searching at www.google.com/advanced_search.
- Google Groups: Is your client — the one who was involved in an automobile accident — on methadone? Do you believe another client had no notice until November 2002 that his company’s product was defective? Take a walk through the community of Google Groups to see if your client publicly discussed his woes in a discussion group, or if others are discussing your client’s products. The results might change your case strategy.