Slaw’s own Ted Tjaden is quoted in this week’s Lawyers’ Weekly on whether the free access to the law movement has reached the point of such reliability and comprehensiveness that it can be considered as an adequate substitute for the commercial giants. Canlii’s Daniel Poulin comes to the defence of Canlii.
“I rarely use free resources,” Tjaden said.
“We have the luxury of having one of the better-equipped law libraries in a Canadian law firm with extensive print resources and online subscriptions.
“Although free search engines do supplement the legal research I do, we continue to rely on the value-added features available from the ‘for a fee’ online subscription services.”
The piece ends with the tantalizing issue:
Authority-based ranking may help the most relevant cases find their way to the top of a query list. Legal experts might help improve such rankings as user interaction on databases increases, à la Web 2.0.
Since no-one has commented here are three useful pieces from South of the border, a Georgetown guide which surveys just what is available on cheaper alternatives to the wonderful but pricey services out of Eagan MN (aka Westlaw Ecarswell) and Dayton, OH (Reed Elsevier / Lexis-Nexis) and a slightly more bibliographic guide from UCLA.
And the clincher from the latest ABA Survey from LTRC under the incomparable Catherine Sanders Reach