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February 20, 2008

CALI to offer tools for professors to make use of free cases

Last week, Carl Malamud's Public.resource.org gave the American public and legal community a small gift: over 1.8 million federal cases, fully browseable and indexable by any search engine. Launched in partnership with the Electronic Freedom Foundation and Creative Commons, the database is a major push towards opening up all court decisions to the public.

At present, the interface for this database is pretty, but fairly barebones. In this article, Carl explains that he expects niche online services will emerge and develop innovative new methods for searching, categorizing and adding value to court rulings. In addition to companies like Google and Yahoo! that are surely salivating over the the West/Lexis empire, CALI (the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction) is rolling out an interface that's designed specifically for legal education.

While the CALI interface is also very basic at the moment, it does feature a search engine (it will eventually be hosted at CaseCorpus.org). Like Public.resource.org, the database will be free and open to the public, but the main purpose of the site is to enable professors to abridge cases for inclusion in coursepacks and sharing with colleagues; it's not intended to compete with AltLaw.org and similar, more public-facing initiatives. Currently, the CALI database contains about 500,000 cases, which will soon form a foundation for the eLangdell project to create an open commons of legal education resources. I will be discussing that effort in more depth tomorrow in Atlanta at the International Conference on the Future of Legal Education.

February 20, 2008 in Teaching Resources | Permalink

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