Tag Archives: Legal research

Why Digitizing Harvard’s Law Library May Not Improve Access to Justice

“Harvard Law School and Ravel Law, a legal research and analytics startup, have partnered in an effort to make the law school’s massive collection of U.S. law and cases publicly available for free on Ravel’s website. The project, known as “Free the Law,” made waves because Harvard’s collection is second only to the Library of Congress in its breadth. Since most of this material was either unavailable or only available through a paywall, Free the Law has tremendous potential. But whom will it help the most?” (via BNA)

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Q&A: Legal Research Upstart Ravel Law Takes On Westlaw

“Four years ago, Daniel Lewis walked away from a promising Big Law career to co-found Ravel Law, a San Francisco-based startup that aims to transform legal research. He got big dose of fresh publicity this fall, when his company inked a deal with Harvard Law School to put the institution’s entire library online.” (via American Lawyer)

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Print v. Electronic 576 U.S. 280 (2015)

“The biblical book of Ecclesiastes says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” It proceeds with a series of pairings: “a time to be born, and a time to die”; “a time to kill, and a time to heal.” To this, we might add: a time to use print, and a time for online. Print versus electronic is the biggest battle every law librarian has to fight. Attorneys, judges, and paralegals will ask constantly why they need all those books when “everything is online.” Good question. You need a good answer, and it’s not just to keep your library from being balkanized and turned into offices, a copier room, or a Starbucks kiosk. You are a law librarian. Your job is to find the right information for the right person, fast. At your disposal are books, commercial databases, and the internet. What do these resources include? And when should you use which? (via ITI)

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Acting Law Librarian of Congress Roberta Shaffer Discusses Harvard’s Free the Law Project

“We here at the Law Library of Congress are excited to learn that the Harvard Law School Library and the legal research platform, Ravel, are teaming up to scan and make available online 40 million pages of American caselaw from Harvard’s vast collection. The best part is that this content will be made freely available, allowing public interest attorneys to reduce the costs associated with legal research and empowering civically engaged citizens and students to explore the inner-workings of the American judicial system. The database containing the cases will initially be made available to non-profits and scholars so they can use it to develop apps., and after eight years, the database “will be available to anyone for any purpose.” (via LOC)

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Harvard Law Library Readies Trove of Decisions for Digital Age

“Shelves of law books are an august symbol of legal practice, and no place, save the Library of Congress, can match the collection at Harvard’s Law School Library. Its trove includes nearly every state, federal, territorial and tribal judicial decision since colonial times — a priceless potential resource for everyone from legal scholars to defense lawyers trying to challenge a criminal conviction. Now, in a digital-age sacrifice intended to serve grand intentions, the Harvard librarians are slicing off the spines of all but the rarest volumes and feeding some 40 million pages through a high-speed scanner. They are taking this once unthinkable step to create a complete, searchable database of American case law that will be offered free on the Internet, allowing instant retrieval of vital records that usually must be paid for.” (via NYT)

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