In this time of blogs and instant messaging, we tend to forget the once-critical role played by e-mail discussion lists (often referred to by the trademarked name Listserv) in allowing legal professionals to discuss and share ideas. In the mid-1990s, for instance, the net-lawyers list was a virtual town square for lawyers on the Internet, with more than 2,000 subscribers. There were — and, no doubt, still are — discussion lists for just about any subject and interest group of law practice. But in that pre-Google Groups era, finding relevant lists was no easy task.
That was the simple and fundamental value of the Law Lists guide to electronic discussion groups. In 1992, Lyonette Louis-Jacques, foreign and international law librarian at the University of Chicago Law School, began to compile and publish her list of law-related e-mail lists. Her list soon became the most comprehensive and accurate list of lists. As she recently recalled in a posting to the law-lib discussion list:
“When I started posting messages … about existing or new law- and library-related lists, it was to make it easier for everyone to connect with each other and network. By having instructions on how to subscribe to the existing lists in one place, it would facilitate joining/subscribing to lists that can help with day-to-day law library work. My ‘Law Lists’ guide evolved from posted e-mail messages that were maybe 10 screens long, to gopher-based, to a web-based, pretty comprehensive central resource for finding law- and library-related e-mail lists that was browsable, keyword-searchable, and regularly updated.”
Monday marked the last day of Law Lists. Lyonette removed it from the Internet for good. In that same post to the law-lib list, she explained:
“It’s now 2005. Most folks have Internet access and the resources for finding information are vast. I think folks have … found the few good e-mail lists they want to belong to. … Folks are checking out blogs. … So there are many more ways of connecting up, networking, keeping up-to-date with information sources.”
Lyonette’s Law Lists was a resource I turned to countless times over the years. Many of us owe her a debt of gratitude for helping us get and stay connected.