Mar. 8th, 2008

skyfaller: (Default)
Imagine that you find a case which is perfect for your legal argument, but it is unfortunately from the wrong jurisdiction. Wouldn't it be excellent if you could just go to Westlaw or whatever legal database and hit a button "find cases with similar results / arguments [in X jurisdiction]"? Obviously sometimes, perhaps even frequently, there won't be any cases that were decided similarly for similar reasons, but if there were, wouldn't it be nice to find out right away?

Today, you can look up cases with similar subject matter using the headnotes / keycites at the beginning of the case in e.g. Westlaw, but that says little/nothing about the result or legal arguments used. Obviously in most cases you want to find cases that both support and oppose your argument, but hey.

In other news, I really wish there were a "Google Law" type legal database, completely open and freely available to the public and with normal web search engine features + syntax, i.e. something that any regular web user could immediately use. I think I raised this idea with my friends once and they said it wouldn't be good for our job security if just anyone could look up the law for themselves... then what would they need lawyers for? Upon further consideration and after chatting with [ profile] uncleamos, I don't think that's true though... although people are increasingly able to do medical research online for themselves, that doesn't mean they are less likely to seek medical treatment from a doctor. Simply having information isn't good enough, you also need the expertise to use it, whether on the operating table or in the courtroom. It's just empowering to have some idea of what your hired professional is doing for you instead of being totally clueless.

February 2009

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