How Nice: TechCrunch Nod to JD Supra

I jd-supralove JD Supra. Its implementation, its content, its super-nice crew, Its wide-ranging contributors. And, JD Supra is the embodiment of my favorite concepts: legal and free. I have flown the flag for JD Supra in previous blog posts. Today I stumbled upon a post at TechCrunch, a highly respected general technology blog, also applauding the service. Leena Rao posted Law 2.0: JD Supra Frees Legal Content, opening JD Supra up to a whole new audience.

What do I love about JD Supra? Massive variety of legal content uploaded by firms, attorneys and others connected with the legal profession. Their own content, generated in the course of the actual practice of law and then shared to the general internet audience, no strings attached. It is a great way for practitioners to advertise their talents and for readers to access practical, legal knowledge.

Rao compares JD Supra to the paid services of WestLaw and Lexis, but I respectfully disagree with the comparison. Although the Big Two have made some strides, I find that both of these services are woefully lacking in providing a user-friendly collection of forms. JD Supra fills this gap for free! JD Supra streams on Twitter and also has a Facebook application. To say JD Supra is way ahead of Westlaw and Lexis in their particular domain is an understatement.

I will never pass up an opportunity to applaud JD Supra. Tech-savvy attorneys are already hip to its benefits. Glad to see that others in the general tech community are opening their eyes as well.

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Can Wikipedia Teach Students How To Write?

Image via Wikipedia

Not content to be the favored reference source for students just learning how to research, Robert E. Cummings at Inside Higher Education has suggested that Wikipedia might just be the proper training ground for students as writers. In his article Are We Ready to Use Wikipedia to Teach Writing?, Professor Cummings explains his process for assigning the preparation of a Wikipedia entry for his composition students, including education regarding the “discourse community” and the “five pillars of Wikipedia.” The students then write contributions to existing pages and review the response from the Wikipedia community. Students then consider their own responses and then draft an essay on the experience of writing for this larger audience.

Professor Cummings explains that this type of assignment offers a crash course in understanding one’s audience, the experience of critique, the exercise of choosing a topic that might be of value and interest to the larger community and a better sense of modern “real world” writing.

Hmmm. Perhaps some of the learnings described by Professor Cummings might have some value for law students as well. Understanding the broader audience, dealing with critique and topic (or argument) choice and a sense of “real world” writing. Granted, legal writing is its own animal, to a large degree. But such an assignment – the opportunity to write for a widely recognized resource with a vast audience – has to afford some tangible measure of what it will be like to write for bosses, clients, peers and courts further on down the line.

Of course, students writing for students’ number one research source does seem to present a circular argument for Wikipedia use, now, doesn’t it?

Hat tip to the Legal Writing Prof Blog.

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A Timely Release: 2009 ABA Legal Technology Guide

Naba-tech-guideever fear, newly-laid-off-firm-lawyers-baffled-by-all-the-technology-decisions-facing-newly-minted-solos. The American Bar Association has just released The 2009 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide: Critical Decisions Made Simple. The guide addresses the options for computers, peripherals, software, support tools, services and other areas vital to modern practice. Reviews and product overviews, step-by-stp instructions on making tech decisions, analysis of operating systems and case management applications, billing systems and document management, tips for the wireless office and protection from security threats are all covered. The guide costs $84.95 for non-members and $54.95 for members of the ABA Law Practice Management Section.

Along with the very reasonable tuition to the soon-to-be-launched Solo Practice University, you too can be a cutting-edge lone legal wolf for not a lot of change.

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