The free legal info landscape:    treacherous quagmire or               inspiring view?                        Emily Allbon
Librarians and freeing the law   Concerned with getting the best quality information    out there to our users   Skills ...
Gateways – librarian-compiled directories SOSIG toIntute Then added toEagle-i (IALS)
Lawbore (student portal)              lawbore.net
Gateways – international collaborations                eisil.org
The current UK situation - £   Paid-for sources still    rule   Big two (Lexis and    Westlaw) still dominate,    but ot...
The current UK situation - free                        Lots out there, but not                         necessarily easy t...
What can you get for free?Judgments   Most courts publish    their judgments freely    online.   Not usually any    func...
Free stuff 2LegislationMost governmentspublish theirlegislation online.Amendments are thebig sticking point inthe UK. Mist...
Free stuff 3Treaties andagreementsbetweeninternationalbodies- all over the web- disparate in  natureun.org
Free stuff 4Journals –rare to findcommentaryfor freeonline in theUK.Improvedsituation inotherjurisdictions.doaj.org
How did the free revolution all begin? With universities! In early-mid 1990’s Cornell (LII) published US Supreme Court ...
Legal Information Institutes   WorldLII – portal containing data from 17 LIIs plus    other databases hosted. Allows sear...
Different types of LIIs   Different kinds of LIIs       Universities and Research centres           AustLII, ITTIG, LII...
Professionals use of free sources?   64% of those surveyed used    BAILII at least a few times a    week   52% used Aust...
Wider initiatives   Free access to law movement:       A collaborative and decentralised initiative formed 2002       M...
Keeping up to date on free sources   Much more option for    this now   Twitter, personal blogs,    Inner temple current...
Why so important?   Making legal information accessible = making justice    more accessible?   Allowing access to legal ...
References   Claire M. Germain, Digitising the world’s laws Chapter 9 from Richard A. Danner &    Jules Winterton, The IA...
Image credits   Slide 1 – ‘Mud’ by theclyde    http://www.flickr.com/photos/theclyde/2673928133/   Slide 4 – ’20 pound n...
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The free legal info landscape: treacherous quagmire or inspiring view?

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Talk from Justice Wide Open: courts and legal information in the digital age. This event for lawyers, journalists and academics, was held by the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism at City University on 29th February 2012.

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The free legal info landscape: treacherous quagmire or inspiring view?

  1. 1. The free legal info landscape: treacherous quagmire or inspiring view? Emily Allbon
  2. 2. Librarians and freeing the law Concerned with getting the best quality information out there to our users Skills in selection Trust and authority issues with free legal info Before digitisation hard enough to get hold of domestic law, never mind other jurisdictions In US AALL had significant influence with their ‘Principles and core values concerning public information on government web sites’ http://www.aallnet.org/main- menu/Advocacy/recommendedguidelines/principles- core-values.html
  3. 3. Gateways – librarian-compiled directories SOSIG toIntute Then added toEagle-i (IALS)
  4. 4. Lawbore (student portal) lawbore.net
  5. 5. Gateways – international collaborations eisil.org
  6. 6. The current UK situation - £ Paid-for sources still rule Big two (Lexis and Westlaw) still dominate, but other contenders now – smaller publishers are withdrawing their content. Makes sense to pay for the value-added features but not for
  7. 7. The current UK situation - free  Lots out there, but not necessarily easy to find.  Not always joined up.  BAILII  Legislation.gov.uk  Parliament If only…
  8. 8. What can you get for free?Judgments Most courts publish their judgments freely online. Not usually any functionality linking to earlier decisions. Searching usually unsophisticated.
  9. 9. Free stuff 2LegislationMost governmentspublish theirlegislation online.Amendments are thebig sticking point inthe UK. Mistrust offree sources.legislation.gov.uk isvery limited in itscoverage of up-to-date law.
  10. 10. Free stuff 3Treaties andagreementsbetweeninternationalbodies- all over the web- disparate in natureun.org
  11. 11. Free stuff 4Journals –rare to findcommentaryfor freeonline in theUK.Improvedsituation inotherjurisdictions.doaj.org
  12. 12. How did the free revolution all begin? With universities! In early-mid 1990’s Cornell (LII) published US Supreme Court judgments & NY Court of Appeals (1992) University of Montreal publishes Supreme Court of Canada judgments – LexUM (1993) AustLII (1995) CanLII (2000) BAILII (2000) Open Law, EAT, PrivyCouncil
  13. 13. Legal Information Institutes WorldLII – portal containing data from 17 LIIs plus other databases hosted. Allows searching of 1400 databases of case law, legislation, treaties, law reform reports and journals from over 183 countries. At least 2 million cases. CommonLII – portal containing data from 56 commonwealth countries (11 LIIs). Contains the ER! AsianLII – portal covering 28 Asian countries (3 ILLs) Proposed EuroLII of 50 countries
  14. 14. Different types of LIIs Different kinds of LIIs  Universities and Research centres  AustLII, ITTIG, LII (Cornell), HKLII, NZLII  Non-profit Trusts or Foundations or NGOs  BAILII (Trust comprises Courts, Universities, legal profession), SAFLII, Kenya Law reports (non-profit government)  Legal profession, as a professional and public service  CanLII (Law Societies of Canada), Juri Burkina, CyLaw
  15. 15. Professionals use of free sources? 64% of those surveyed used BAILII at least a few times a week 52% used AustLII, CommonLII etc few times a week High use of Eur-Lex and HUDOC Infrequent use of free legislation sites Issues around authenticity and versions – good for transcripts for research but not for court (68% of frequent BAILII users use it for transcripts).(Sarah Jones, 2010)
  16. 16. Wider initiatives Free access to law movement:  A collaborative and decentralised initiative formed 2002  More than 900 databases from over 130 countries  Support principles of free access to law – Declaration on Free Access to Law  Cooperation in software development for open standards in legal information management  Aims:  Effectiveness of use and re-usability  Sustainable models  Translation in other languages & cross-language retrieval functionalities  Adoption of open standards and metadata schemes for primary materials  Barriers?
  17. 17. Keeping up to date on free sources Much more option for this now Twitter, personal blogs, Inner temple current awareness, BAILII updates No longer about getting stuff out there but having a conversation Worried about trustworthiness of source? Everyone more accountable.
  18. 18. Why so important? Making legal information accessible = making justice more accessible? Allowing access to legal information for those fighting for justice, smaller law firms, legal centres, pro bono work. Savings for lawyer – savings for clients? Man on the street unlikely to pay for access to legal databases – prohibitive costs. Ignorance of the law no excuse, but what if no-one can find it? Transparency = cornerstone of judicial system. Has to be possible for anyone to see why each judgment was given, guaranteeing openness.
  19. 19. References Claire M. Germain, Digitising the world’s laws Chapter 9 from Richard A. Danner & Jules Winterton, The IALL International Handbook of Legal Information Management (Ashgate 2011) Graham Greenleaf, Free access to legal information, LIIs and the Free Access to Law movement Chapter 10 from Richard A. Danner & Jules Winterton, The IALL International Handbook of Legal Information Management (Ashgate 2011) Various papers from the Law via the Internet conference in Hong Kong (8-10 June 2011) http://www.hklii.hk/conference/programme including Daniel Poulin, Free access to law in Canada http://www.hklii.hk/conference/paper/1D1.pdf Free the law meeting (1999) http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/elj/jilt/2000_1/free_the_law/transcript Declaration on free access to law (1995, updated 2007) http://www.worldlii.org/worldlii/declaration Graham Greenleaf, Free access to legal information – Lecture 17th Jan 2012 http://ials.sas.ac.uk/news/Graham_Greenleaf_at_IALS_2012.htm Sarah Jones, Freeing the law: a study of free online legal resources and their use by barristers (2010) Msc Dissertation, City UniversityThanks also to Ruth Bird (Bodleian) and Jules Winterton (IALS) for informal discussionson this subject.
  20. 20. Image credits Slide 1 – ‘Mud’ by theclyde http://www.flickr.com/photos/theclyde/2673928133/ Slide 4 – ’20 pound note roll’ by Images_Of_Money http://www.flickr.com/photos/59937401@N07/5930028 236/ Slide 5 – ‘One Stop Shop Sign 1’ by marc e marc http://www.flickr.com/photos/marcemarc/2385399277/ Slide 10 – ‘Assume the position (black and white) by Sashala http://www.flickr.com/photos/sashala/312173300/ Slide 12 – ‘Tempus fugit project 365(3) Day 294 by Keith Williamson http://www.flickr.com/photos/elwillo/6452275823/

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