Law.gov video presentation now online!

In a January 2, 2010 op-ed in the New York Times entitled “A Nation of Do-It-Yourself Lawyers,” California Chief Justice Ronald George and New Hampshire Chief Justice John T. Broderick Jr. asked “how can we help those who are left to represent themselves in court?”

One thing we can do is make the law of the nation freely available.  Today much of the law remains behind a pay wall, often a very expensive pay wall.

There have been efforts to liberate the law — five guys at Cornell (Cornell’s Legal Information Institute), three guys at Google (Google Scholar legal opinions), and others.  The federal government has made strides too, eCFR remains a model of free, updated legal content, but as the first paragraph explains on the eCFR website disclaims, “It is not an official legal edition of the CFR.”  State government efforts are as varied as the 50 states and District of Columbia.

So what to do?

Law.gov is a campaign to identify what a national law registry should include, and to make recommendations to the policy makers on how to structure a repository of all primary legal materials (and maybe more) at all levels of government.

The Stanford Law Library hosted a Law.gov kickoff event on January 12, 2010 and the day’s events included a terrific panel discussion with Carl Malamud, Anurag Acharya (Google Scholar lead engineer) and law professor Jonathan Zittrain, moderated by Stanford Law School lecturer Roberta Morris.  We now have a streaming video link from this discussion and it’s definitely worth viewing:

http://www.law.stanford.edu/calendar/details/3717/#related_media

Law.gov: A Revolution in Legal Affairs

On Tuesday, January 12th, Stanford Law Library is co-hosting the first Law.gov workshop with Carl Malamud.

The keynote of the workshop is the 1pm talk entitled, “Law.gov: A Revolution in Legal Affairs.”  The speakers at this panel include: Jonathan Zittrain (Harvard Law), Anurag Acharya (Google), Carl Malamud (Public.Resource.Org) and Roberta Morris (Lecturer, Stanford Law) will serve as moderator.

The day’s agenda is full and the workshop sessions will include a discussion of the Law.gov movement, technical considerations, and other issues.

 One of the main goals of the workshop(s) is to define a National Inventory of Legal Materials and think about how we go about building it. 

Some of the questions that we plan to raise with our workshop attendees on Tuesday include:

-What items should be included in this inventory?  Think primary legal materials, plus…

-What information would we want to collect for items in the inventory?  For example: what  formats are available, costs, scope, etc.

-Should the inventory take the form of a wiki while in development?  Or?

-How should we note potential copyright issues in the inventory?   For example, some states assert copyright over statutory codes.   Also, what about the IP issues regarding briefs and filings. 

-How do we organize the effort to create the inventory?  Should this be done by individuals across the US? Should this be developed in partnership with organizations (for example, NOCALL)? 

-What about legislative efforts: will we need to work on legislation to make this a reality at the state and federal level? 

-What about legal publishers and vendors?  Can/will/how should they help?

-What about authentication concerns and standards? 

I am anxious to hear what our attendees have to contribute on these topics and more.  If you have additional questions or issues that you think should be raised at our workshop, please let me know.  Also, we welcome your comments and answers to the above questions.  Feel free to comment on this posting or send me a note.

Vive la revolution!