The Potential of Law Wikis

Stephane Cottin, head of IT and of the registry service with France’s Constitutional Council, has created the tag “wikidroit” (wikilaw) on the social tagging website to compile a list of online collaborative sites (or wikis) on the topic of law.

By creating an account on, people can assign tags or keywords to websites they wish to bookmark and then share those bookmarks with others.

One of the sites Cottin references is LawLibWik created by Deborah Ginsberg (Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology) and Bonnie Shucha (University of Wisconsin). It includes a link to a presentation they gave on wikis and their potential application in the law context at the 2005 conference of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL). Ginsberg updated the presentation at the association’s 2006 conference.

Ginsberg also published an article entitled Practicing Law Librarianship: A Wiki Wiki (Quick) Introduction to the Wide World of Wikis in the July 2006 issue of the journal AALL Spectrum.

The article examines a number of ambitious law-related wikis, including WikiLaw, Jurispedia and Wex (Cottin provides links to them). These sites claim to want to build online legal encyclopedias. While this is an interesting concept, it is hard to evaluate how feasible this really is. As well, since those projects are quite open to anyone, there is the problem of credibility and authority.

But the article also examines how libraries, including law libraries, have started using wikis to provide services to users by organizing electronic resources or to organize and exchange notes and documents about internal projects. Proprietary or confidential information for work-related documents can be kept behind a password-protected login.

Ginsberg concludes: “Legal research wikis … would be of great uses to our patrons. They could be used in academic libraries to teach research concepts. They could be used in law firm libraries to showcase underused resources. Some day, we should all share our collective knowledge of legal research and law librarianship in a Wikipedia-like resource, each of us contributing with our particular area of expertise.”

Also posted on Library Boy.


  1. Ce billet tombe à point: je suis présentement en train de travailler sur un projet visant à créer un wiki sur différenst sujets légaux pour les civilistes québécois… À l’heure où tous parlent de l’accessibilité à la justice, il me semble que ce serait un bon moyen!

    D’ailleurs, l’Association du Jeune Barreau de Montréal (AJBM), vient de lancer ses forumsqui, je l’espère, pourrons rencontrer cet objectif, en plus d’intéresser les praticiens aux technologies.