In the internet research world, hyperlinks are a standard way of “drilling down” for more detail or specific information. Just as all web pages contain links to other pages, cases downloaded from legal research services such as Westlaw or Lexis contain links to the cases, statutes, articles, or other sources cited within the opinion. The links allow immediate access by the reader to these referenced materials.
Attorneys can include links to cited law and previous CM/ECF filings in their documents to be filed in CM/ECF, adding another level of persuasion to their writing. Hyperlinks in briefs and other court filings provide quick, easy, and pinpoint access to particular sections of a case, or to specific filings in the court’s record. The attorney can thereby highlight the precise issue presented, and the specific evidence and controlling or persuasive law the court should consider.
Hyperlinks in court filings are very beneficial for court chambers. Court submissions which include links to relevant case law and case filings are easy for chambers staff to review. The attorneys’ arguments can be immediately verified in the context of the relevant law. The judge or judicial clerk is able to read the text of the cited case law on one screen while reading the attorney’s brief on the other. And if a brief contains links to referenced exhibits, and even to specific pages within those exhibits, the judge or judicial clerk can access the relevant evidence without having to navigate through the CM/ECF record. Particularly when dealing with large and complex cases, links save chambers considerable time and effort. Links make it easy for the court to verify – and adopt – the positions taken by an advocate.
Below are two documents on hyperlinking, The Attorney Guide to Hyperlinking in the Federal Courts provides step-by-step instructions on how to insert hyperlinks into a document, and the LinkBuilder Tool provides instructions for adding LinkBuilder to Microsoft Word (the CM/ECF LinkBuilder add-in tool for Microsoft Word automates the creation of cross-document hyperlinks between filings in the federal court's CM/ECF sysem.)