Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Google Gets Legal

Google just got a lot more awesome. Yesterday, they announced that they will now be offering access to state and federal caselaw through their Google Scholar service. While not as comprehensive as Lexis or Westlaw (e.g., Google Scholar doesn't have the cases in the Federal Appendix), it's certainly a great starting point for doing any basic legal research. Additionally, this reduces the cost for solo and small firms to access basic case documents. It currently costs around $9 per document to access things on Lexis if you're not on a flat rate plan, so being able to pull even 10 cases a day for free will save you $100 a day. I can't stress enough how big this is. Lexis and Westlaw have such a stranglehold on caselaw databases as it is, and finding the cases in the printed reporters involves finding a copy of said reporters and actually going there and looking them up, something that not all solo or small firms are able to do. Providing this kind of access opens up a whole new realm of legal research for the little guys, including the public, and this is good. Access to information is always a positive thing, and I applaud Google for continuing to make contributions to the general public's ability to access information.

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