[NOTE: Updated 22 August 2011 to update the link to the paper.]
As a next step in a project to develop a new, formal definition of “legal information,” initially discussed here, I’ve written a paper entitled “What Is Legal Information?” to be delivered at the University of Colorado Law School’s conference on Legal Information: Scholarship & Teaching, to be held in June 2009. [Other papers to be delivered at the conference appear here, and they look very interesting. The other conference papers are no longer available on Internet.] Here is the abstract:
“This paper offers a new, formal definition of ‘legal information,’ intended to exhibit nine characteristics identified as being desirable. Motives for devising a new definition of ‘legal information’ include enabling automated discovery and organization of law-related information, fostering interdisciplinary research respecting such information, and enabling law librarians to specify the basis of their professional expertise and to limit the scope of their collections and services. Three previously devised, formal definitions of ‘legal information’ are evaluated and their shortcomings identified. A new definition of ‘legal information’ is then set out, with examples. Next, the paper discusses a potential controversy respecting a subcategory of law-related information: ostensibly non-law-related information that acquires legal significance by virtue of being used to support a statement about law. A potential approach to that controversy is suggested, involving the use of the economic concept of comparative advantage.”
Rights respecting my paper are set out here. Comments on my paper are welcome, in the comments section of this blogpost. Some provisos respecting this version of my paper are in order. First, this version frames the issue for law librarians; a later version will discuss the issue in a broader legal informatics context. Second, this version addresses only the English-language scholarship, and the review of that scholarship is not complete (I’d be grateful to learn of additional sources); a later version will also address non-English language scholarship, including Erich Schweighofer, Rechtsinformatik und Wissensrepräsentation ch. 2 (1999), and the sources he discusses. Thanks in advance for your input.
[NOTE: Updated 6-24-2009 to revise link to the paper, and to remove the link to the other conference papers, since they are no longer available.]