Crowdsourcing the Law? Apparently You Can, With Jurify

Seems a blasphemous concept, but how about getting top-tier legal resources from the finest legal minds for free? Jurify is looking to secure content from the best and the brightest lawyers to include on their site, offering in exchange recognition via direct attribution and inclusion on top ten lists by category. They are soliciting information from lawyers, double-checking its accuracy with other lawyers, and then offering the content to still more lawyers and the public at large for free or cheap. Up the Revolution!

Jurify’s brand new, slickly designed site, is the brainchild of law grads / lawyers Eric and Nicole Lopez who hope to change the way people access legal resources. They are so hip, they look like they are even using Instagram photos on their about page! So, what kind of content are we talking about here? Really anything – memos, blog posts, client alerts, white papers, videos, cases, articles, websites, news stories, training materials, sample briefs, sample forms, whatever. All tagged and searchable, with the ability to rate and comment on the content and awarded with Credibility Scores. What’s that? The Credibility Score measures a legal member’s level of engagement with a specific subject, generated via a proprietary algorithm. The algorithm factors include the type, quantity and quality of contributions, professional background and achievements. If you contribute quality content, the site promises to include you in lists that showcase your brainpower, presumably encouraging the public to choose you for more in-depth analysis. Oh, and you can even earn achievements, like little Foursquare badges. I want the Learned Hand badge – I have ALWAYS loved his name!

From their site:

Jurify is the home for top-tier attorneys and blue chip executives involved with the law. Created by experienced lawyers from global law firms who grew tired of the cloistered and outdated way law was practiced, Jurify is an invitation-only platform that channels the collective genius of the best attorneys worldwide to deliver high-quality legal resources in mere seconds.

Our content is contributed by carefully-screened attorney members who share without pay. These lawyers are rewarded withrecognition through direct attribution as well as placement in our practice-specific “Top Attorneys” lists. They also earn Achievements designed to showcase their accomplishments and provide additional validation to discriminating clients and employers in search of the best the legal world has to offer.

The site promises the mindware of the most accomplished practitioners, and invites viewer attorneys to apply for free membership, as inclusion in the site is invite only. I imagine they are pretty hungry for applicants right now – as it appears obvious the success of Jurify will depend heavily on getting quality material from a lot of quality contributors. While it may not be as attractive to busy lawyers already earning a decent living and finding it difficulty to piece two minutes together, I see it as a potential marketing tool for newer lawyers interested in getting their name out there. Which cuts against the promise of crowdsourced experience, but let’s overlook that small hiccup for the moment. There is also, as expected, a rather lengthy terms and conditions I recommend reading closely.

Jurify is indeed a novel concept. Can it take hold? In a world driven by social media, achievements and on-line recognition and promotion, maybe it could. I hope it does. Better access to legal help isn’t such a bad thing, is it? Check out their promotional video below and stop by their site. Let me know what you think – this is definitely a conversation-starter.

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Google's Got The Election Stuff Covered

Whether you want it or not, the frenzy of election season is upon us and the Iowa caucuses are bearing down hard. To be forewarned is to be forearmed (not to be confused with the right to bear arms), so Google has stepped up to make it easy to track election data and remain in the know. First up: the U.S. Elections Hub – a Google site dedicated to Politics & Elections with a focus on 2012. Left nav gives you trends, “on the ground”, candidates links and issues links. Blogs and news blurbs offer real time coverage down the middle, and the links on the right give you even more navigational informational options.

The trends map link at the bottom offers a compelling animated graphic that moves over time showing peaks and valleys in the trends for various candidates.

Google Politics & Elections also has a Google+ Page with the most up to date information. A quick scroll shows the page to be chock-full of links and blurbs to satisfy even the most avid political junkie. Have at it!

Research Tips From A Canadian Lawyer

Nada Khirdaji, a partner in the Research Department of Osler’s Toronto office, focuses her practice on legal research.  Sounds familiar to me. Ms. Khirdaji shares some of her suggestions for effective legal research in this article (link here) included in CCH’s January, 2010 Law Student Monthly column. She covers many excellent points – all focused on providing the researcher plumbing a new area of law with the world-view first and the finer points second. Her suggestions include: avoiding the case law databases as a first step and turning instead to general resources and texts; reading all cases cited in the notes; assuming application of a statute until proven otherwise, and performing a thorough review of the statute’s structure, location, table of contents and index; reviewing predecessor sections of statutes, related statutes from other jurisdictions and similar provisions in other statutes; avoiding journal articles for practical legal research; and, using firm-specific resources and consult ing colleagues.

Really, all very good advice. However, the suggestions seemed penned by an attorney from the 20th Century. Here in the 21st Century, there is another, important means for achieving a broad, world-view that Ms. Khirdaji omits. Consider looking at all available on-line resources as well, including the newly-fortified Google search, book searches, semantic search engines, and other curated legal databases and resources. Consider crafting your own custom search engines of pertinent governmental agency websites using Google Custom Search. Use the deep web search engines to find unconventional web documents. You never know what you may find.

Locating The Law

Locating The LawAre you looking for it? Well, here it is. The Public Access to Legal Information Committee in conjunction with the Southern California Association of Law Libraries has just released its newly-revised, Fifth Edition of “Locating The Law”, a handbook of resources for non-lawyers. The contents include:

  • Cover
  • Preface by Ruth Hill
  • Acknowledgments by June Kim
  • Chapter 1: Introduction by Karla Castetter
  • Chapter 2: How to Read a Legal Citation by David McFadden
  • Chapter 3: Basic Legal Research Techniques by Joan Allen-Hart
  • Chapter 4: Legal Reference vs. Legal Advice by Joan Allen-Hart
  • Chapter 5: California Law by Laura A. Cadra
  • Chapter 6: Bibliography of California Resources by Patrick Meyer
  • Chapter 7: Federal Law by Karla Castetter
  • Chapter 8: Bibliography of Federal Law Resources by June Kim
  • Chapter 9: Assisting Self-Represented Litigants by Laura A. Cadra & June Kim
  • Chapter 10: Bibliography of Self-Help Resources by Lisa Schultz
  • Chapter 11: Availability, Accessibility and Maintenance of Legal Collections by Joan Allen-Hart
  • Chapter 12: Major Law Publishers by Jennifer Lentz
  • Appendix A: Glossary of Legal Terms by June Kim
  • Appendix B: California County Law Libraries by Esther Eastman
  • Appendix C: California Law Schools by Karla Castetter

    You can download the entire PDF here. While California-focused, it includes info of interest that crosses state lines.

Web Writing Resources Care Of JD Supra

There is writing and then there is Web writing. There really is a difference! JD Supra offers a collection of five Web writing resources to help you understand that difference. Whether you are writing to create or beef up a Web page, fill a blog or promote your brand or business, you will go farther if you understand how people and search engines surf and crawl the Web.

Happy Reading!

You’re a Writer? Then Use The Internet!

Rusty Writer
Image by Steve Wampler via Flickr

Nice post by author Mary Warner at the WooWooTeaCup Journal listing many of the ways in which writers can use the internet to support their writing habit. While these suggestions apply generically to writers of all persuasions, there are jewels for business and legal writers to be found in her list. From getting reference help to clipping research information, from finding quotes to communing with other writers and even learning a bit about copyright, Mary has quite a few bases covered. Hit the jump and learn how other writers employ the vast array of tools the internet has to offer!

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You're a Writer? Then Use The Internet!

Rusty Writer
Image by Steve Wampler via Flickr

Nice post by author Mary Warner at the WooWooTeaCup Journal listing many of the ways in which writers can use the internet to support their writing habit. While these suggestions apply generically to writers of all persuasions, there are jewels for business and legal writers to be found in her list. From getting reference help to clipping research information, from finding quotes to communing with other writers and even learning a bit about copyright, Mary has quite a few bases covered. Hit the jump and learn how other writers employ the vast array of tools the internet has to offer!

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Wikipedia, Redux

Further to my earlier post about Wikis and Blogs as sources for legal authority and judicial citation, here is a great link to the Harvest Christian Academy’s page entitled “Lose Your Wikipedia Crutch.” The page lists 100 places to go in search of information on a variety of topics, arranging the places by type such as Library & Reference, User Contributed, Encyclopedias, Science & Math, Social Studies, Fine Art, Language & Literature, Technology, Question & Answer, General and Miscellaneous. If you just aren’t sure about that Wikipedia entry, why not try one of the alternatives listed in this article to jump-start your search?

Also, in the spirit of healthy competition, Google has announced its own user-contributed-content encyclopedia, Knol. The tagline is “a unit of knowledge.” According to itself, a “knol” is an authoritative article on a specific topic. From the site:

Knol makes it easy for you to write and share your knowledge with the world. Knol offers:

Ease of use
All you need is an account, a name and a desire to write and we’ll take care of the rest.

Control
You specify the level of collaboration you want with the community. Your knol, your voice.

Community
You can connect with other experts in your area of interest to share and grow knowledge.

Visibility
We value and promote authorship. Great content will be visible on any search engine.

Growth
Sharing your knowledge with the world is rewarding for everyone.

It was launched on July 23, 2008 and appears to still be in beta form. There is still plenty of room for good “knols” contributed by all of you bursting-with-knowledge sorts.

Massachusetts Authority

I am here in Massachusetts and, therefore, have a predisposition for an interest in Massachusetts authority and general information. Fortunately, the Massachusetts courts and agencies have not been sitting idly by while the Internet revolution explodes around them. Here are a few information gems:

  1. The Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries include information from 17 public law libraries across Massachusetts. There are subject entries on such over 100 topics, including the more popular entries of auto insurance, foreclosure, health insurance, landlord-tenant, potholes, same-sex marriage, smoking and a blog about Massachusetts law. There are Massachusetts and Federal forms provided, at no charge. There are links to podcasts of interest, including one on Massachusetts DUI news. Various statutes and regulations are included, such as Massachusetts laws, Federal laws, links for laws from other states and links for foreign and international laws. Cases can also be found via links: for cases 1972-1996, the cite includes information by citation, name, or through a Google site search. Although not complete collection, the site also includes hundreds of often-cited earlier cases. There is a blog featuring updates on Massachusetts law. You can even chat with a law librarian!
  2. The Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly includes links for free full text opinions from the Supreme Judicial Court and Appeals Court cases from 1997 to current. Summaries are available from 1993. There are other resources available on the site for non-subscribers and it is well worth perusing the pages and links.
  3. Beginning in September, 2007, the Massachusetts Appellate court site began making available briefs filed in most cases scheduled to be argued before the Supreme Judicial Court shortly before the sitting. Hyperlinks to the briefs may be found on the Case Docket pages, just above the Docket Entries.
  4. The Board of Bar Overseers and Office of the Bar Counsel also maintain a site full of helpful information. There is a list of upcoming public hearings. You can search for an attorney by name or city and see his or her status. There is a link to relevant rules including the Rules of Professional Conduct, Canon of Ethics, procedural rules of the Supreme Judicial Court, and rules of the Board of Bar Overseers.
  5. Interested in a case before the Supreme Judicial Court, but cannot make the date for oral argument? Suffolk University Law School, in conjunction with the Court, has made available webcasts of oral arguments. The archives go back to September, 2005. There are minimum system requirements, as well as the need for Windows Media Player, which are outlined on the page.
  6. Here is a handy organizational chart for the Massachusetts court system.
  7. The Massachusetts Department of Revenue very kindly provides on-line access to forms and other information at its own website. There are also news and reports provided on various public information under the auspices of the DOR, including DOR press releases. The DOR also publishes tax guides as general resources regarding Massachusetts law, policies and procedures.
  8. The Massachusetts Legislature maintains a website which lists the legislators, legislation, the laws, the committees, the journals and the calendars of the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives. There is a great outline of lawmaking in Massachusetts, complete with a glossary of terms.
  9. This is a great listing of all Massachusetts state agencies, arranged alphabetically.
  10. All you ever wanted to know about the Massachusetts economy can be found at MassBenchmarks, a quarterly journal of the Massachusetts economy published by the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute in cooperation with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and managed by the Institute’s Economic and Public Policy Research unit. Based on census data, the site includes information concerning the performance of and prospects for the Massachusetts economy, including periodic economic analyses of major geographic regions within the Commonwealth and an array of key industries that make up the economic base of the state. The journal also provides commentary and interpretation of economic data aimed at business and labor leaders, public policy makers and the general public.

As the reader can probably imagine, this is not an exhaustive list. For the researcher or general information junkie, however, this should provide many hours of entertainment. Enjoy!