Sarah Glassmeyer and Pete Smith have posted their new article entitled Open law: Technology in service of the rule of law, forthcoming in Legal Information Management, 14(3) (2014).
Here is the abstract:
As law librarians we have ready access to the full range of legal materials – from free sources and powerful commercial legal databases, from medieval times to the modern day. We can have the entirety of primary law (and the secondary materials needed to decipher it) at our fingertips within seconds.
For those without such access- which is the majority of the general public – what are their options? How do those who do not have access to the likes of Lexis and Westlaw, or even a library with printed legal materials, find legal information- and why is it important that they can?
This article will consider these questions, covering the United Kingdom and the United States of America, with a particular focus on the issue of open law. First we will have a short historical overview of access to legal information; we will then turn to the reasons why wide and full access to legal information is important, and look at some examples of systems which aim at providing such access. Some of the issues with such systems are discussed, followed by a brief outline of an ideal open law system. We end with a look at the social and political elements needed to make the technology of open law systems work.