Law.com has just reported that the U.S. Supreme Court “adopted a historic rule change that will allow lawyers to cite so-called unpublished opinions in federal courts starting next year”. Apparently, unpublished opinions represent 80 percent of cases decided in the federal appeals courts.
It seems to me that recent rulings of the courts (Canadian and American) may be the start of a re-evaluation of the legal research process. The Ontario Court decision discussed in the April 10 post “Computers Have All the Answers”.- looks as though it will be impetus for some lively debates amongst practicing lawyers (I think the Toronto Research Lawyers will be discussing the case at their April meeting).
As noted in the comment to the April 10 post, one must separate “research” from “analysis”.. Twenty five years ago, I recall spending most of my time “researching” because the finding tools were not that helpful. Once the “research” was finished, there tended to be a manageable amount of material, usually well written, to digest and analyze. Today, I think the “research” time has been shortened – but the analysis time lengthened because there is so much more material to consider and the material is often unorganized and confusing. From a client’s perspective, I think the legal bills are higher than ever.