Law in the Internet Society

Reforming AltLaw

As explained in my first essay, a public legal-research platform would be a healthy societal development. Columbia's hosted AltLaw search engine is a candidate for being that platform. With only a handful of people working on the project, AltLaw has already indexed a useful collection of cases and statutes. It is faster and cleaner than Lexis/Westlaw, and it is free without ads (other than professorial self-promotion). Following the framework established in my essay, I make the following proposals:

  • Allow public submission of legal documents, with some noninvasive administrative mechanism to filter the submission of garbage
  • Allow public editing of case metadata--hyperlinking, Shepardizing, etc. (again, with some mechanism for filtering out unhealthy edits)
  • Allow integration of custom excerpting filters--for instance, a "Chirelstein Filter" for each case taught in his contracts class, excising the sections that Chirelstein is not interested in.
  • Integrate custom "Course packages" with links to the case excerpts for a particular course of study
  • Decentralize database for p2p document sharing
  • Decouple interface from content to allow custom skin design.
  • Implement rationalized citation system



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r2 - 12 Nov 2008 - 00:26:01 - ElliottAsh
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