Publicly accessible free and low-cost legal research services are being added to the web every week, or so it seems. No, it’s not really happening that frequently, but there are more options available now than a year ago and more are expected in the next year. For the latest exciting news, see the announcement from Public Resource dot org about the some extremely public spirited lawyers and companies and look for a “grand opening” in early 2008.
From the Announcement:
WASHINGTON, D.C. / SEBASTOPOL, CA—November 14, 2007—Public.Resource.Org and Fastcase, Inc. announced today that they will release a large and free archive of federal case law, including all Courts of Appeals decisions from 1950 to the present and all Supreme Court decisions since 1754. The archive will be public domain and usable by anyone for any purpose.
“The U.S. judiciary has allowed their entire work product to be locked up behind a cash register,” said Carl Malamud, CEO of Public.Resource.Org. “Law is the operating system of our society and today’s agreement means anybody can read the source for a substantial amount of case law that was previously unavailable.”
Fastcase, the leading developer of next-generation American legal research, has agreed to provide Public.Resource.Org with 1.8 million pages of federal case law. This is a marked departure for the online legal research industry, which traditionally has charged expensive subscription fees to access this information.
“For eight years, Fastcase has been ahead of the market curve, working to democratize access to the law,” said Ed Walters, CEO of Fastcase, Inc. “At the same time, we have been advancing the science of search, combining the precision of traditional legal research with the simplicity of Web-based searches.” (Read the full announcement here.)
I’ve blogged before about free and low cost legal research tools. Type low cost (do NOT use quotation marks) into the Oregon Legal Research home-page search box to see those earlier posts and additional links.