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Accessing Australian Law Legal Resources Using Foolkit

Foolkit, which stands for Free Legal Toolkit, provides free comprehensive access to legal resources in every Australian state except Western Australia. Produced by an Adelaide lawyer named Andrew Rogers, it is a collection of resources for lawyers, support staff, law students and the general public. By some measures, Foolkit is one of the largest access to law websites in Australia. Foolkit gets over 2 million hits per month and Rogers estimates that it is used by about 20 percent of lawyers in Australia.

Foolkit’s goal for lawyers is to improve the efficiency and quality of practice and professional life. It concentrates on providing legal information that is practical and that will be used frequently. While the site itself has minimal contentcommentary, what it does contain are some 14,881 links to content provided by others. These links are offered in a structured manner according to jurisdiction, practice area, and the job to be done. For example, a family lawyer is given access to relevant statutes, court lists, adoption services, paid subscription services, and calculators. According to Rogers, lawyers using Foolkit can expect to save up to one hour per week and secretaries up to ½ hour per week.

Andrew Rogers originally developed Foolkit as an Intranet for his small commercial practice. Its evolution took an accidental lurch in 2006 when a programmer forgot to set a password for it. Google crawled the site, it became available to the general public, and the rest is history.

Since that time, Rogers has sold his law practice that he built over 30 years. He has expanded the website beyond South Australia and now runs it as a full-time job with an investment of substantial amounts of his own money. Graphic artists, programmers and researchers located in the Netherlands, the Philippines, and Egypt, and various Australian States have worked on Foolkit. The Foolkit paper toy was designed by a graphic artist in Brazil.

Rogers’ daily routine involves an automated check of over 5,000 links followed by a manual check of 300-400 links to see if they are still valid or have something new. Typically 50 to 100 links per day are changed or added. It’s interesting to observe that many information service providers do not provide static links.

The features of Foolkit I like best include the Foolkit’s Desktop Detective, which gives links to resources for finding out information about people, such as the Electoral Roll and the National Person Insolvency Index, and the more esoteric Image Error Level Analyser, which allows you to detect if an image has been Photoshopped.

AustLII Easy Search provides a way of searching the Australian Legal Information Institute website without using Boolean terms. Legislation searching gives you the option to search a given piece of legislation via AustLII or the State or Commonwealth legislature website. And Foolkit provides direct links into the latest available Australian Federal and State legislation and Court rules and forms.

The management side of Foolkit connects to resources and recent articles on HR, wellbeing, client relations, financial issues, marketing and risk. 

In keeping with the time management focus of the site, there are plenty of links to things like local restaurants and movie theatres so that you do not wander too far on the Web but are able to stay on task.

The Public side of the website contains information on Do-It-Yourself legal kits, answers to common questions, working well with a lawyer, counselling, industry ombudsmen, and legal aid, and how to choose a lawyer..

Rogers describes Foolkit as a hybrid venture of for profit and social enterprise.The current revenue model is paid advertising, with a possible move to a freemium model where access to most areas of the site would be free but access to others premium content would require payment.

He estimates that the site is about 70 percent complete; and he describes Foolkit as a work in progress. He is currently working on adding multi-media and more practice areas. He also plans to expand to include the remaining jurisdictions in the Australian States and then progress eventually to working on the UK, and Canada, and the United States. 

 If you would like to create a starter page of links to your favourite resources for the Provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, or Alberta, please send it to Andrew at rogersa@internode.on.net or andrewr@foolkit.com.au.

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