Way back in 2007, I wrote a post here entitled, Justia Does FindLaw One Better. In it, I noted an ironic turn of events. Whereas FindLaw had once been the preeminent Internet resource for legal professionals, it’s usefulness had been fading ever since 2001, when Thomson West purchased it from its founders, Stacy Stern and Tim Stanley. Meanwhile, Stern and Stanley went on to create Justia and, over the years, build it into everything FindLaw could have been.
Recently, Justia launched a legal commentary site, Verdict, and it’s hard to resist making that FindLaw comparison once again. FindLaw, you may recall, has Writ, its legal commentary site that it launched around 2000.
Comparing the two sites, it is readily apparent that Justia’s Verdict is has a much more compelling design and makes far greater use of social media. But we all know you can’t judge a book purely by its cover. What happens when you dig into some of the commentary?
What happens is that you come to realize that many — in fact, the majority — of the longtime columnists for FindLaw’s Writ now make up the roster of columnists for Justia’s Verdict. Many of their names still appear on Writ’s masthead, even though they are now also listed on Verdict’s masthead. Former Writ writers now contributing to Verdict include Vikram David Amar, Neil H. Buchanan, Sherry F. Colb, John Dean, Michael Dorf, Joanna L. Grossman, Marci A. Hamilton, Julie Hilden, Joanne Mariner and Anita Ramasastry. It appears that all of these columnists stopped contributing to Writ at the end of 2010.
Justia’s announcement of Verdict says: “Verdict’s team of ten columnists includes nine former law clerks—among them four U.S. Supreme Court clerks—seven law professors and the director of a new college-level human-rights program, all currently teaching at eminent schools.”
Once again, it appears, Justia has done FindLaw one better.
(Please read my standard Justia disclaimer.)