I want to pass along some BIG news that is wonderful for everyone: Google is now offering FREE access to a huge amount of U.S. law through Google Scholar.
Why is this a big deal? Because historically law firms have had to pay incredibly high rates to gain access to online case law via services such as WestLaw and Lexis. The Ziff Law Firm currently pays more than $6,000 a year to Lexis! I have been longing for the day when we can eliminate that cost.
(Google has been developing Google Scholar for years now – it’s “a freely-accessible Web search engine that indexes the full text of scholarly literature” according to Wikipedia. The beta version was launched in late 2004, and now the Google Scholar index includes most peer-reviewed online journals from many of the world’s scholarly publishers.)
How it works (basically!)
Know how to use Google? You’ve got the concept, then! Go to the Google Scholar home page and select the radio button for Legal opinions and journals. You can search by the names of the parties in a particular case or the type of decision. Not only will Google Scholar return the results for a specific case you are looking into, it will offer links to associated cases for your further research.
While Google’s current offerings don’t match all the features of Lexis yet, it is only a matter of time until we can accomplish all we need to do for FREE.
And that’s the way it should be – information wants to be free.
A postscript on Google
Google is continually coming up with new features. I came across this post on the iPhone J.D. blog, a resource for lawyers who use iPhones (as I do!). Follow this link to a great post on using Google on your iPhone and some speculation on what might be available from Google in the future.
Thanks for reading,
James B. Reed, Esq.
Personal Injury & Malpractice Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529
E-mail me at FreeReports@zifflaw.com for two free books:
NY Car Accidents and NY Car Insurance Secrets YOU Need to Know.