LVI 2012 is “good ideas about putting law on the Internet, from all over the world.” It brings together people from all over the world who are interested in publishing the law, both non-profits and for-profits. I’ve met several people visiting from state supreme courts (Nevada and Micronesia, for starters), a law librarian, several publishers (from Luxembourg and the HeinOnline digital archive, among others), and the folks from CALI, which many of us know from law school. And, of course, there are people from legal information institutes similar to Cornell’s original LII from all over the world.
I’m attending the Law Via the Internet conference because open access to the law is an important problem lawyers need to have a role in solving. So much of the law is bound up in law libraries, hidden behind paywalls (PACER, Westlaw), and inaccessible to the public. Or just unfriendly to public access. If people are expected to know and comply with the ridiculous proliferation of laws and regulations, they ought to be able to find them, at a minimum. For example, LII states on its front page that it “believes everyone should be able to read and understand the laws that govern them, without cost.”
This is not just a publishing problem. Some states have gone so far as delivering copyright takedown notices to websites that have published their laws online. And, of course, in order to use the systems of citation common, if not mandated, in legal work, one must have access to volumes published by Westlaw or LexisNexis in which the citations and pagination appear — although online portals like Google Scholar and Fastcase are doing pretty well at adding this information.
This conference is ground zero for putting the law online. If the way lawyers and non-lawyers get the law changes, it will be largely due to the efforts of those here, at this conference. This is the boring backend of the law, but it will have a material impact on how we do our jobs as lawyers, and potentially on the way governments function.
Read the next post in this series: "Richard Susskind’s #LVI2012 Keynote: Liberating the Law Yet Further."