Justia today launched a service providing free, daily summaries of federal and state court opinions. The service, daily.justia.com, covers all federal circuit courts of appeal and select state supreme courts. Additional state courts will be added in the coming weeks. The daily summaries provide brief descriptions of each decision and are tagged by area of [...]
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The next revolution in legal publishing is just around the corner. Starting in 2011, Public.Resource.Org, an organization devoted to putting government documents in the public domain, will begin a weekly release of HTML versions of all slip and final opinions of the appellate and supreme courts of all 50 states and the federal government. The weekly release, to be called the Report of Current Opinions, will be available for reuse without restriction by anyone under the Creative Commons CC-Zero License and will include full star pagination.
Carl Malamud, the founder of Public.Resource.Org, announced RECOP in a post today at the O’Reilly Radar blog. He will obtain the cases from Fastcase, which will provide all opinions in a given week by the end of the following week. Participants in the Law.gov project — which include both for-profit organizations such as Justia and Fastcase and academic institutions such as Princeton, Cornell and Stanford — will assist by performing initial post-processing of the raw HTML data.
[See also this update: More Details on RECOP from Fastcase's Ed Walters.]
In addition to weekly release of all current opinions, Malumud announced today, the feed will include periodic releases of important segments of the back file, including:
- A release of 3 million pages of 9th Circuit briefs from 1892 to 1968 which were produced in cooperation with UC Hastings College of the Law and the Internet Archive and is scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2011.
- Double-keyed HTML for at least the first 10 volumes of the Federal Reporter, First Series and all 30 volumes of the Federal Cases will be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2011. This data is being furnished as part of the YesWeScan Project.
- William S. Hein & Co., which provided high-resolution scans of the Federal Cases, is providing a high-resolution scan of the Federal Reporter, First Series which will be released in the first quarter of 2011.
The project is actively pursuing several other important archives that are missing from the collection, Malamud said, including Supreme Court Briefs and multiple versions of the annotated statutes of the 50 states. “We would welcome the contribution of any legal publishers wishing to furnish such data,” he said.
Notably, the RECOP project will be limited in its duration. Malamud explains:
Providing the back file and ongoing release of primary legal materials is really the job of those institutions of government that make the law. That is the idea behind Law.Gov, an idea that the government must do a much better job of promulgating the raw materials of our democracy. Because we feel strongly that government must strive much harder to be that shining city upon the hill that Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy both aspired to, we have set two timeouts on this new service.
The first timeout is a sunset clause. RECOP will operate in 2011 and 2012 and then terminate. By then, Malamud says, the government should be able to pick up the reins. The second timeout could come earlier. “We have established a milestone of July 1, 2011,” Malamud writes, “by which government needs to step up to the plate and join us in helping make this service real.”
It is not clear from Malamud’s post what happens if government does not step up to the plate.
More details on the project will be released in mid-January, Malamud said.
The U.S. legal portal Justia has launched a legal portal for Mexico, Justia Mexico. As Justia does for the U.S., Justia Mexico does for that country, providing legal information and resources for lawyers and consumers, all without cost.
The Justia Mexico site provides access to Mexican federal and state constitutions, laws, codes and regulations. Notably, while the Mexican government provides only one PDF file for all of the laws in Mexico, Justia Mexico allows pinpoint citations to the state codes.
In addition to legal information, Justia Mexico provides streams of Mexican law blog posts and legal tweets, a list of the largest law firms in Mexico, and a directory of Mexican law schools.
Read more in the announcement at the Justia blog.
(Full disclosure: Justia designed this blog for me at no cost. See this post: A Special Thanks to Justia for Rescuing my Blog.)
Two years ago in a post here, I bemoaned the shuttering of The Virtual Chase, a website devoted to enhancing the research skills of legal professionals. Founded in 1995 by Genie Tyburski, a law librarian at Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll in Philadelphia, the site was a top destination for legal researchers, until Genie announced she would no longer put time into keeping it up.
Well, The Virtual Chase is back, relaunched this week by the legal information portal Justia, which acquired the site from Tyburski and has been quietly working on rebuilding it. “The re-launched Virtual Chase features a new design, as well as additional online legal research and community resources for law librarians and other legal professionals,” Justia founder Tim Stanley writes in a blog post.
The new site’s resources are organized within four broad categories:
- Legal Research. Here you’ll find guides to federal and state law, links to general legal resources, and practice-specific research guides.
- Other Resources. This section contains information on conducting business-related research and research on non-legal topics of interest to lawyers.
- Community. Here you will find links to law librarian blogs, listservs and library associations, as well as a constantly updated law-librarian Twitter stream.
- Law Libraries. A state-by-state guide to finding a law library.
And of course you can keep up with new developments at the site by following @Virtualchase on Twitter.
By way of disclaimer, I should note that I have personal experience with Justia’s skill at rescuing websites from the brink of disaster.
Many, many moons ago, from 1995 to 1999, I published the first-ever newsletter to cover the Internet for lawyers, legal.online. Every year, we doled out awards we called “Best of the Web for Lawyers.” The recipients of these awards were selected by panels of judges that included trailblazers in leading the legal profession online, including Erik Heels, Gregory Siskind, Jerry Lawson, Genie Tyburski, and Bradley Hillis. Invariably, in categories such as “Best Legal Information Starting Point” and “Best Legal Research Site,” the top award would go to FindLaw, which in those days was operated by the husband-and-wife team of Tim Stanley and Stacy Stern.
In 2001, Thomson bought FindLaw from Tim and Stacy. In 2005, I wrote a series of posts critical of FindLaw, saying that Thomson had let it deteriorate as a legal resource. “The deterioration of FindLaw’s index is so extreme as to call into question its usefulness as a primary resource for legal professionals,” I wrote then. (It has since turned itself around, while targeting itself more to consumers than to legal professionals.)
Meanwhile, Tim and Stacy went on to found a new company, Justia. As I noted in a post here in 2007, Justia started out with a focus on “legal marketing solutions,” creating websites and blogs and providing search engine optimization. Increasingly, Justia devoted itself to public-interest projects — notably the Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Center and Recall Warnings — and to building Justia into the kind of legal resource that FindLaw had earlier foreshadowed, adding such innovations as Justia Dockets & Filings, the Justia Supreme Court Center, BlawgSearch for searching law-related blogs, Blawgs.fm for searching law-related podcasts, and LegalBirds for finding legal professionals on Twitter.
Justia to the Rescue
Where am I going with this? Well, a couple months ago, when Blogger announced it would shut down support for blogs published via FTP, I wondered what to do with this blog, which I had published via Blogger since its launch in 2002. In a post in March, I questioned whether I should just shut this blog down and start anew. I knew I wanted to move to WordPress and I thought I wanted to move to a new domain, but I was concerned about losing my permalinks and all those accumulated years of “link love.”
In response to my concerns, I received a number of helpful pieces of advice and offers of assistance. But by far the most generous offer I received was from Tim at Justia, who offered not only his advice, but his assistance in migrating LawSites from Blogger to WordPress and in creating a new design template — all for free. Given the respect I’d developed over the years for the work of Tim, Stacy and Justia, I was bowled over by this offer. At the same time, I was reluctant to accept it, for the simple reason that something in my gut is opposed to taking anything for free.
But after mulling it over and considering my options, I decided to take Tim up on it. In order to make it as easy as possible for the Justia folks, I sent them some links to resources I had found on migrating off of Blogger and I suggested some WordPress templates that I’d be happy with. I naively and severely underestimated what work would be involved and, more to the point, what work they would do.
The blog you see now is the result of Justia’s work and I cannot begin to express my thanks to them. They spent over a month on this project and I am thrilled with the result. I want to express my enormous thanks to the Justia people who worked on this:
- Soby Mathew, who did the design, conversion and templates.
- Nick Moline, who did the server set-up, blog import, modules and tweaks.
- Ken Chan, who did quality assurance.
- Cicely Wilson and Vasu Kappettu, who functioned as project managers, coordinating it all and making it all happen. I owe a particular thanks to Vasu, who kept me informed at every step and responded generously to every question and concern I had.
Needless to say, I wish to extend a huge thank you to Tim and Stacy for their generosity and for all the great work they’ve done over the years and continue to do.
And I would be remiss if I did not mention that, if you like what you see here, you can get Justia to design a website or blog for you. Check out their work here. They even offer free templated sites for lawyers.
I am thrilled to announce that LawSites is moving. The new address for the blog is http://www.lawsitesblog.com and the new RSS feed is http://www.lawsitesblog.com/feed. I hope you will check out the new site.
I am particularly thrilled with the new design, which was done for me by the good folks at Justia. The blog will now run on WordPress, as I move off Blogger, where I’ve been since 2002.
Today is moving day (given that Blogger’s FTP support shuts down tomorrow). Once the dust settles, I will post more about the transition. For now, I hope you’ll update your feeds and bookmarks and let me know your thoughts on the new design.
This will be my final post via Blogger FTP.
To pull off a $20 billion ponzi scheme, you need a broad web of social and business connections. In the case of Bernard Madoff, the network of feeder funds and sub-feeder funds that funneled investors’ money his way was particularly complex. For a striking visual depiction of this complex network of funds, check out this interactive network map: Bernard L. Madoff Money Flows & Feeder Funds.
The map was created by Orgnet.com, a company that provides social network analysis software and services. Orgnet founder Valdis Krebs provides more information about his Madoff map at his blog, The Network Thinker.
I am not sure when this happened, because I just noticed it, but I see that Justia has added a lawyer directory to its many features. It lists lawyers and law firms by their practice areas and jurisdictions and can be searched by name and location. It is labeled “pre-beta,” suggesting it is fairly new, so I’ll forgive it for omitting my name. I have written here before that I believe Justia has become one of the best free legal-research sites on the Web, so this is one more feather in its cap.
“FindLaw’s core is showing its age. Started in 1994 as an index of legal resources on the Internet, FindLaw used that index as the foundation on which to build a range of resources for legal professionals, businesses and consumers. But in recent years, FindLaw has let its index go to seed, failing to weed out dead URLs, update site descriptions or add new resources as they come along. The deterioration of FindLaw’s index is so extreme as to call into question its usefulness as a primary resource for legal professionals.”
As I noted then, FindLaw’s downturn seemed to coincide with its 2001 purchase by Thomson West. What I did not mention then was that with that purchase came the departure of FindLaw’s co-founder Tim Stanley. From my earlier reporting about FindLaw, I knew Stanley to be creative and energetic. I could only wonder whether his leaving contributed to FindLaw’s downturn. (In fairness to FindLaw, it responded quickly to my series and continues to make substantial revisions and enhancements to its ever-growing site.)
Meanwhile, Stanley started a little company called Justia. At first, Justia’s main focus was “legal marketing solutions” — creating law firm Web sites and blogs and providing search engine optimization. At the same time, Stanley and his staff worked on public-interest side projects such as the Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Center and RecallWarnings.com. Later came Justia’s Supreme Court Center, pulling together a searchable collection of Supreme Court cases along with Supreme Court resources from all over the Web.
Justia continued to add innovative features, such as BlawgSearch for searching law-related blogs and Blawgs.fm for searching law-related podcasts. Just last week, he launched Federal District Court Filings & Dockets, for searching and browsing federal dockets. Along the way, Justia added collections of links to Web legal resources arranged by legal practice areas and to legal research and law practice resources arranged under cases and codes, courts, states, law schools, legal forms and the like.
All of which seems to be bringing Justia back full circle to where FindLaw was when Stanley left — when FindLaw was still the premier portal for legal research. Look at Justia’s front page today and one is reminded of the FindLaw of old. More to the point, Justia today is becoming every bit as valuable as a legal portal as FindLaw once was. In fact, I would say it is one of the best free legal-research sites on the Web.