Analyzing how a given opinion has been impacted by subsequent decisions is an essential part of legal research. Consequently, the work of the Free Law movement cannot stop with making opinions freely available: a free and robust citator is also needed.
A gargantuan effort will be required to build (and continually update) such a citator. The newly launched WeCite Project, co-sponsored by the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics and the free legal research platform Casetext, aims to bring the win-win power of crowdsourcing to the task. Along with the traditional crowdsourcing strategy of enabling a community of like-minded people to easily contribute, the WeCite Project is also giving law schools the unique opportunity to do their fair share in another win-win way: students learn about citators and citation analysis; the database grows. Already a number of advanced legal research classes have already participated and our class this spring will join the crowd.
The Columbia Society for Law, Science and Technology is hosting a WeCite Event at Columbia Law School on March 26, 2014 (see details and RSVP here: https://casetext.com/wecite/event). Any and all who are passionate about legal research and/or equal access to the law are invited to attend. Those who cannot make it to New York can also participate remotely.
Importantly, any and all citator entries created under the WeCite Project (“wecites”) are public domain under a Creative Commons SA license. Casetext will also be creating an API to allow anyone to bulk download wecites.
The beauty of crowdsourcing is that small contributions from individuals can aggregate into something magnificent. For those who are interesting in pitching in, instructions can be found here: https://casetext.com/wecite
Casetext is a free, searchable legal database that you dear reader can annotate! The beta version just opened to the public, and the site is building a community of annotators so that lawyers reading a case see related legal documents, articles, and commentary alongside the text.
Casetext is committed to making the opinions and annotations freely available. Instead of charging for access, the site will support itself by offering additional tools that enhance search and save time.
The database currently contains the bulk of federal cases (all Supreme Court, circuit courts from 1 F.2d, and district courts from 1980); as well as Delaware cases in the Atlantic Reporter from 30 A.
Co-founders Jacob Heller and Joanna Huey met when he was president of the Stanford Law Review and she was president of the Harvard Law Review. After clerking together and working at firms, they decided to build Casetext because it’s what they wished they had for their own research. They’d love to hear your feedback (and, of course, to read your annotations).