Category Archives: Social Media & the Law

Collaborative Research for the Digital Age

While there have been significant changes in the realm of legal research (such as the shift from print to digital resources) conducting legal research is still often a solitary endeavor.  Two new websites are trying to change that, however, and have provided platforms designed to make online legal research a collaborative enterprise: Casetext and Mootus.


Casetext is a “community of lawyers, law professors, and law students helping each other understand the law by annotating key legal documents.”  The website contains a database of over a million cases, statutes, regulations, and contracts which users can add analysis and commentary to, including tags, documents, and links to secondary sources.  The site also allows users to “upvote” commentaries they like as well as post questions which others answer with case law.  Registering and using the site is free.


Mootus states that it “helps law students and lawyers build skills, reputation and knowledge…through open, online legal argument.” Registered users can post legal questions on the site, to which other users respond with legal arguments and supporting cases (in the future users will be able to add statutes and regulations).  Users can also vote for cites, indicating whether they think they are “on point” or “off base.”  Registering and using the site is free although there is a fee for use of upgraded features.

The next time you need to brief a case for class or would like some insightful commentary when working on a memo, check these two sites out.

*Hat tip to Robert Ambrogi’s article “Crowd Searching” in the January 2014 issue of the ABA Journal.

Top Legal Blogs


The ABA Journal has announced its 6th Annual Blawg 100, in which its lists its 100 favorite law blogs.  Blogs included in the list focus on a variety of legal topics, from just for fun (Lowering the Bar) to criminal justice (Lawyerist).  In between are blogs on specific topics such as IP, labor and employment, and torts, as well as blogs focusing on legal research and writing.


In addition to the list of 100 blogs, this year the Journal named ten blogs to its Hall of Fame:

All of the blogs on this annual list are lively and engaging, with authors who are passionate about their chosen subjects.  Take a break from studying to check a few out.

#twtmoot: World’s First Twittersphere Moot Court Competition

February 21, 2012, the West Coast Environmental Law Group of Canada made history by holding a Moot Court competition in an unusual venue: Twitter.  

Teams from five Canadian law schools hash-tagged it out over the topics of indiginious rights, coal mining and caribou.

Want to learn more? Check out  this article in the ABA Journal, or read the full record of the #twtmoot here.

The Furor Over SOPA and PIPA

You may have noticed the internet “strike” being waged today against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) when you tried to access a Wikipedia article and saw the page go dark, or logged on to Google and noticed the protest link on its home page.  Both Wikipedia and Google, as well as other websites such as Reddit, BoingBoing, Mozilla, and WordPress are voicing their opposition to these two bills by participating in an “internet blackout.”  A full list of strike participants is available at

SOPA and PIPA are aimed at preventing copyright infringement and intellectual property theft, and would give the Department of Justice the power to prosecute foreign websites committing or facilitating IP theft.  The DOJ could also force U.S. companies, including internet service providers and credit card companies, to cut ties with those websites.

Those opposing the two bills argue that SOPA and PIPA would censor the web and that they will hurt the economy because American businesses with websites will have to monitor everything users upload or link to, or face expensive and time-consuming litigation.   Additionally, opponents say that the bills won’t even achieve their stated purpose of stopping piracy.  They claim that pirate sites will just move to other addresses and continue their illegal activities.

More information about the internet blackout is available on ABC News. Get more information on SOPA here and about PIPA here.

Scalia and Kagan are doing it – how about you?

In a recent C-SPAN interview, Justice Elena Kagan mentioned that she uses a Kindle to read briefs.  Justice Antonin Scalia has stated that he uses an iPad for the same purpose.  It’s not only Supreme Court justices who are using tablets, however; lawyers are also increasingly using e-readers and iPads in their legal practice.  An Arizona Republic article from July profiles two Phoenix attorneys who are employing iPads to better communicate with clients, and discusses how attorneys are utilizing tablets during court appearances.  Attorney Josh Barrett has even published a blog titled Tablet Legal, which discusses “use of Apple’s iPad by lawyers and in the legal profession.” 

It seems that tablet use has really caught on in the legal community, and has the potential to influence the way members of the community work.  How will this effect law schools and their students, however?  Perhaps casebooks will be available in digital versions?  Some publishers are already working towards this.  Aspen Publishers currently offers its CrunchTime series and Casenote Legal Briefs as eBooks.  West Publishing also allows West publications available via WestlawNext to be delivered to the Kindle.   The American Bar Association has also embraced the digital revolution and released a free iPad application for the ABA Journal. 

We will see what the future holds for the role of tablets in legal practice, and in schools preparing future legal practitioners.  How has a tablet been useful, if at all, to you as a student?  Or perhaps you have utilized one in an externship or summer job?  Would you like having casebooks and supplements available to you digitally?