LegalIT 5.0: Crowdsourcing and the Law

Blogging live from the Legal IT 5.0 Conference in Montreal, I am attending the session on crowdsourcing and the law which started at 9:30am, frankly, because I was intrigued by the title… Crowdsourcing the law?! Marcel Naud, from ROBIC, opened the session by defining crowdsourcing as:

The act of taking a job traditionally performed by a specific agent and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call

Marcel presented several examples of crowdsourcing, including istockphoto , quirky and innocentive, before the session moved on to how crowdsourcing is pertinent to the practice of law.

David Gold from Spindle Law then took over the session and explained crowdsourcing as a general social phenomenon and some of its most known manifestations, like Wikipedia. David suggested that a good legal example of a wiki would be Wex.

David provided us with some Law specific crowdsourcing examples:

  • LawPivot: connecting California lawyers and companies
  • Stack Exchange: a Q&A platform with field specific sites, starting to include some preliminary legal sites. The platform includes a reputation system
  • Spindle Law (disclaimer – this is the employer of David Gold): currently a US only law site, Spindle law is interested in expanding to Canada and David welcomes any such inquiries
  • JD Supra: the site allows its users to create an online portfolio of articles, newsletters, court filings, and presentations, the idea being to get noticed by prospective clients, colleagues and the media, and
  • Peer to Patent: this site enable users to help the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to find the information relevant to assessing the claims of pending patent applications. Community members can review and improve the quality of patents.

Some issues, challenges and opportunities were presented by David, including:

  • Contributors are mostly amateurs – The Rise of the Amateur, and
  • Crowdsourcing may mean that less lawyers will be needed to resolve any given legal problem, and that overall, less lawyers may be needed.

That last point is sure to raise some eyebrows… which is a good reaction to an interesting session (!)

(cross-posted on the CCCT-CCTJ blog)

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