The Free Law Reporter

CALI (Computer Assisted Legal Instruction) introduced the Free Law Reporter this week.  The FLR is a database housing published (official) legal opinions that provides a simple search interface for research.  According to CALI, “The goal of FLR is to develop a freely available, unencumbered law reporter that is capable of serving as a resource for education, research, and practice.”

The FLR is populated with opinions from the RECOP service. There’s been a little bit of controversy over whether the opinions are being used or adopted. The archive itself is not designed for caselaw research, it’s just a repository. The goal is to make the data freely accessible in bulk access. RECOP is not a research tool, in other words. It’s where sites that run research tools get the opinions.

And that’s what CALI has done. The Free Law Reporter pulls the opinions, organizes them, and adds search capabilities so that end users can access and use the information. The site looks nice, with a simple, clean interface. They’ve also explained the technical components if you’re interested.

The Rutgers School of Law has created a similar search interface.

More experimentation and innovation in free law — we like it!

8 Responses to The Free Law Reporter

  1. avatar Don Cruse says:

    You say: “There’s been a little bit of controversy over whether the opinions are being used or adopted.”

    Could you explain this more, or point me to where I can find this discussion?

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  3. Hi Don,

    I’m referring to some threads on Law-Lib, which have been reproduced here:

    • avatar Don Cruse says:

      Thanks, Courtney. It makes sense that bulk data feeds are to enable people to build more interesting services on top. With that in mind, I’m not sure that the raw number of downloads that Carl Malamud sees is a fair reflection of the interest in the project. CALI downloads just one copy, but they serve it up to many more.

      If everyone downloading the data is a potential “maker” rather than a “user,” a few downloads can make a big difference.

  4. Sorry–to clarify– A thread :)

  5. Thanks Don–great point. I certainly hope that’s the case.

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