A Flurry of Innovation: An Update on Free Law

The past two months have seen a flurry of innovative activity in the corner of the legal technology world that concerns free access to law and open legal information. Here are some developments that seem noteworthy:

Open Legal Educational Resources

New, free, and open versions — in ePUB and .mobi formats — of U.S. federal court rules have been published, jointly by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School and CALI, The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction. This is the latest addition to the ePUB-based open legal publishing endeavor that John Mayer describes in this recent post.


Many developers dealing with open legislative data or systems — such as Waldo Jaquith and his State Decoded system, and Dr. Rinke Hoekstra and the Leibniz Center for Law‘s MetaLex Document Server — are implementing Rick Jelliffe’s PRESTO model for legislative information systems, featuring of RESTful APIs and human-readable URIs.

Legal Bulk Data

New collections of legislation and related information have been published as machine-readable bulk data:


Innovators are embracing standards — technical, stylistic, and administrative — for open legal data:


Several new developments have arisen in the eParticipation world:

Scholars and Developers Are Sharing Expertise

Knowledge developed by legal informatics scholars is being made available in forms that legal information systems developers can use and apply:

Those are the notable free law developments of the past two months, as I’ve seen them. What developments in the free law space do you think we should be watching?



  1. Thanks so much for pulling this together, Robert! What an exciting list!

  2. Some Twitter tweets about this post are listed at Topsy:

  3. Thank you for this update. I was at a meeting on Monday in Florence where Enrico Francseconi gave a talk about the open source legal drafting xml editor that has been developed at ITTIG. It is worth a look –

  4. Professor Bird: Thank you. Is a summary of the Florence meeting available? And was the EuroLII project discussed?

  5. Professor Bird: Yes, the xmLeges editor has been available for several years