The post describes the online publication of U.S. federal court decisions on the U.S. Government Printing Office’s FDsys platform, and recommends ways to improve FDsys‘s publishing practices.
The post gives several interesting examples of visualization of legal information, including:
The authors then conclude:
Once the visual turn has begun, we do not think it can be stopped; the benefits are just too many. As lawyers, we have a lot to learn and we could do our job better in so many respects if we indeed started to get into the mode of thinking and acting like a designer and not just like a lawyer. This applies not only to purely legal information, but everything else we produce: contracts, memos, corporate governance materials, policies, manuals, employee handbooks, and guidance.
Legal information tends to be complex, and information design(ers) can help us make it easier to understand and act upon. The goal is accomplishing the writer’s goals by meeting the readers’ needs. [...]
With new tools and services being developed, it will become easier to convey our content and documents in more usable and more engaging ways. As the work progresses and new tools and apps appear, we are likely to see a major change in the legal industry. Meanwhile, let us know your views and ideas and what you are doing or interested in doing with visuals.
For more details, please see the complete post.
Serena Manzoli, LL.M., has published Taxonomies Make the Law. Will Folksonomies Change It?, at VoxPopuLII.
Here are excerpts from the post:
[...] the problems with legal taxonomies occur when the creators and the users don’t share the same frame of mind. And this is most likely to happen when the creators of the taxonomy are lawyers and the users are not lawyers. [...]
Let’s come to folksonomies now. Here, the mismatch between creators (lawyers) and users’ way of reasoning is less likely to occur. The very same users decide which category to create and what to put into it. Moreover, more tags can overlap; that is, the same object can be tagged more than once. This allows the user to consider the same object from different perspectives. [...]‘
What legal folksonomies bring us is:
- User-centered categories
- Flexible categorization systems. Many items can be tagged more than once and so be put into different categories. Legal stuff can be retrieved through different routes but also considered under different lights.
Will this enhance findability? I think it will, especially if the users are non-lawyers. And services that target the low-end of the legal market usually target non-lawyers. [...]
Prediction #1: Folksonomies will provide the right information architecture for non-legal users. [...]
Prediction #2: legal folksonomies in legal teaching would keep lawyers’ minds flexible. [...]
Prediction #3 Legal folksonomies will make the law apply differently.
Let’s wait and see. Let the users tag. Where this tagging is going to take us is unpredictable, yes, but if you look at where taxonomies have taken us for all these years, you may find a clue.
I have a gut feeling that folksonomies are going to change the way we search, teach, and apply the law.
For more details, please see the complete post.
Here is an excerpt:
Legal corpus management in a legislature can be conceptualized in accounting terms. Is it useful to do so? I would argue that it is incredibly useful to do so. Thanks to computerization, we do not have to limit the application of Luca Pacioli’s brilliant insight to things that fit neatly into little rows of boxes in paper ledgers. We can treat bills as transactions and record them architecturally as 21st century digital ledger transactions. We can manage statute as a “balance” to be carried forward to the next Biennium. We can treat engrossments of bills and statute alike as forms of trail balance generation and so on.
Now I am not for a moment suggesting that a digital legislative architecture be based on any existing accounting system. What I am saying is that the concepts that make up an accounting system can – and I would argue should – be used. A range of compelling benefits accrue from this. A tremendous amount of the back-office work that goes on in many legislatures can be traced back to work-in-progress (WIP) reporting and period-end accounting of what is happening with the legal corpus. Everything from tracking bill status to the engrossment of committee reports becomes significantly easier once all the transactions are recorded in legislative ledgers. The ledger then becomes the master repository from which all reports are generated. The reduction in overall IT moving parts, reduction in human effort, reduction in latency and the increase in information consistency that can be achieved by doing this is striking.
A Workshop on Open Scientific Publishing and Communication on Law and ICT was held 10 October 2012 in Ithaca, New York, immediately following LVI 2012: The Law via the Internet Conference, held 7-9 October 2012, at the Legal Information Institute (LII), Cornell Law School, Ithaca, New York, USA. The workshop had the informal title of “Steve the Librarian.” Tom Bruce of the LII sends the following report on the workshop. Thanks to Tom for allowing me to repost his report:
Since I ended up acting as the informal “chair” of the meeting, I suppose I should be the one to fill everyone in. It was, in fact, a meeting of 8 or 10 people around a breakfast table at the Holiday Inn, and not a workshop in any ordinary sense. But it was the latest event in a chain of discussions around this subject that began at LVI in Florence, and continued through the LVI meetings in Durban and Hong Kong, sometimes in conference sessions, sometimes in the FALM business meetings, and sometimes in airport lounges. It is fair to say that this is a recurring topic and an important one.
We outlined three major needs in the field.
One (which I’ve pushed to the point of being a broken record on the subject) is the need for low-threshold, internal communication among the various subdisciplines that touch open access to law. We’ve taken on some of that in VoxPopulii, first under your capable leadership and now with Stephanie Davidson and Christine Kirchberger at the helm. It’s vitally necessary that legal informatics researchers learn about the needs of publishers, publishers about librarians, librarians about informatics, and social scientists about all of them (not a complete census but you see what I mean) and that the resulting literature be accessible to non-specialists in the field that is talking about itself. There is room for much more than VoxPopuLii here.
A second is for a publishing venue for people who are working on open access to legal information as researchers in various fields, particularly younger scholars. If you can agree for a moment that we might describe their fields as, for the most part, “law and…” fields, then the journals they now have available to them are all in the fields that are on the other side of the three dots. This has a distorting effect. The availability of very good open-journal software for electronic publication makes good alternatives possible. There is general agreement that because there are so many fields bordering what we all do there is a potentially difficult problem of defining boundaries for such a journal. Initial forays will thus focus pretty tightly on open access to law. Even that is potentially tricky, given that government information of many kinds might be eligible and useful, so firm editorial leadership is called for.
A third is for a comprehensive archive and index to existing work in the field, to be maintained as new stuff is added. One might describe its boundaries as being “all the stuff Rob Richards posts about” , with substantial work on mapping it having been done by you both in formal bibliographies and in blog posts and Twitter. We think there is the possibility of working either with an existing apparatus such as the physics arXiv, or with a purpose-built DSpace installation or some other repository.
Participants in the discussion included Pompeu Casanovas, Graham Greenleaf, Enrico Francesconi, Ginevra Peruginelli, James Lambert, John Heywood, Cicely Wilson, John Joergensen, Amy Taylor, and others whose names I apologize for not retrieving from my faulty memory.
Various individuals have been tasked with pursuing initial steps toward these objectives with the aim of having all or part in place by the time of the next LVI conference (tentatively believed to be in September 2013). We’ll post news as things become concrete.
Christine Kirchberger, LL.M., M.S.L.I.T. and Pam Storr, LL.M., both of the Swedish Law and Informatics Research Institute (IRI), have posted Law as an App: Technology in Legal Education, at VoxPopuLII.
The post begins:
Following up on a previously published article on LaaS – Law as a Service, this post discusses different ways that apps can be included into the law degree curriculum.
The sections of the post have the titles:
Meg Lulofs, JD, MSLIS, has posted has posted Open Data in a Librarian Hat: What’s Your Number One?, on the VoxPopuLII blog, published by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School.
In this post, Ms. Lulofs discusses the prioritization of applications of legal open government data, with particular reference to the effort to make legislative data from the US federal THOMAS system freely available on the Web (the movement commonly known as #freeTHOMAS).
Mamari Stephens, MA, LLB, of Victoria University of Wellington Faculty of Law, has posted Making a Legal Dictionary for an Indigenous Language: The Legal Maori Dictionary, on the VoxPopuLII blog, published by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School.
In her post Ms. Stephens discusses the technology used in these projects — including the Matapuna / Freelex open source lexicographical software — the relationship of Māori customary legal concepts and common law concepts to the Māori language, and the relationship of this Māori legal lexicographical project to other legal lexicographical projects involving indigenous languages.
For more information, please see the complete post.
By including user input in the evolution of legal services, we can overcome the practical barriers to access, reaching billions of new clients and fulfilling the promises of equality made in our constitutions, treaties, and oaths.
For more information, please see the complete post.
Mr. McDonald discusses this topic at greater length in his VoxPopuLII post entitled Law in the Last-Mile: The Potential of Mobile Integration into Legal Services.