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.