Tom Bruce of the Legal Information Institute has posted Caselaw is Set Free, What Next? at the Google Scholar Blog.
Here are excerpts from the post:
[...] Google Scholar’s caselaw collection is a victory for open access to legal information and the democratization of law. [...]
Five years ago, when Google Scholar added judicial opinions to its portfolio, it created an immediate sensation among lawyers. [...] And now there was access to a significant chunk of material that had previously been lodged firmly behind paywalls. It was linked and searchable, and still better, it offered a version of the citation-tracking and evaluation features that lawyers knew and loved in expensive commercial systems. It had first-class sorting and filtering features. It had Bluebook-form citations for each case [...]
Scholar’s immediate impact on the legal profession was owed in large part to its technical virtuosity. It was an unusual display of ingenuity used to democratize services and features whose value had mostly been known only to lawyers. [...]
Google Scholar’s caselaw collection offers features — such as citators — that are a step toward the “system of books” that would fully integrate primary legal sources and commentary into a practical resource for public understanding and professional practice. The legal-information ecosystem on the Web as a whole is moving in that direction. As that progresses, the benefits to everyone affected by law — which is to say, everyone, period — will be enormous. We will move beyond making law available on the Web to making it truly accessible on the Web — not just discoverable, but understandable. [...]
For more details, please see the complete post.