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Can we reduce our dependence on foreign legal publishers?


To continue the discussion (albeit one-sided 🙂 of legal research strategy:

Both Lexis and Westlaw are owned by foreign companies. American Lawyer and the National Law Journal are about to be owned by foreign companies. (Incisive Media and ALM merger)

If you are wondering why even in our electronic age, ordinary people (and lawyers) don’t have free and easy access to their state court judges’ opinions, read this article. You will see that some people do, and you will see what it took to make it possible (not all that much to tell the truth, except clear vision, cooperative effort, and smarts – though these are more rare than we like to imagine).

A recent article in the Law Library Journal issue I mentioned in a previous blog post, 99 LLJ, “Neutral citation, court web sites, and access to authoritative case law,” by Peter Martin, 99 Law Library Journal 329 (2007) is illuminating.

Note: I am not proposing we throw the baby out with the bath water (and jettison Westlaw and Lexis) – far from it. These full text, full service databases have a prominant place in our legal research process. But we should not use them, rely on them, to do something we should be doing ourselves, i.e. creating official, publicly accessible databases of the laws of the land, our land, the “land” that makes laws we have to follow.

(Yes, I know … babies and bathwater 🙂

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