The Law Goes Open Source

Forbes

Revolutionaries

The Law Goes Open Source

by Daniel Fisher 06.30.08

“A new breed of online services is putting the law within the reach of everybody”

Really interesting article in Forbes about Fastcase and the other “little guys” who are moving in the computer-assisted legal research arena.

Fastcase sells bulk memberships to state bar associations for as little as $2 per member per year, a compelling reason for law firms to at least try it out. Just as cheap personal computers undermined the mainframe business in the 1980s and open-source programs like Linux and Mysql are challenging Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT – news – people ) and Oracle (nasdaq: ORCL – news – people ) today, outfits like Fastcase are attacking Wexis’ stranglehold on legal research from the bottom up.

A mix of for-profit and not-for-profit firms have missions similar to Fastcase’s, including PreCydent, Public.Resource.org and Collexis Holdings’ Casemaker division. They are assembling a digital version of the collections that fill miles of shelves at law libraries across the country.

. . .

“These little guys [Fastcase and PreCydent] are throwing a lot of Internet technology at the problem, and they may be getting close to replicating human analysis,” says David Curle, an analyst at Outsell, a market research firm that tracks the legal information business.

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