Some Cool New Research Tools (And they’re free, too!)

Are your increasingly cost-conscious clients balking at five-figure bills for legal research? Here are some neat new resources you might find helpful:
Public Library of Law Fastcase Above the Law blog.jpg1. The Public Library of Law. Here’s a brief blurb, from Ed Walters (the former Covington associate who founded Fastcase):

One of the joys of disruptive technology is that it occasionally allows you to disrupt things. In that spirit, I’m pleased to introduce the Public Library of Law, which debuts today at PLoL is the world’s largest free law library, with more than 7,100 miles of text in the cases alone.

PLoL works hand in hand with our (much larger) subscription library at Fastcase, which features power research tools as good or better than any in the world. PLoL has its virtues as well — it is ad supported and easy to use, and should be a great starting place to find law on the Web.

There’s a usage tutorial available over at YouTube, prior coverage by Robert Ambrogi at LawSites, and a comprehensive press release.
Precydent open law source AboveTheLaw blog.jpg2. PreCYdent. PLoL isn’t the only free law library on the web. From a tipster:

Have you posted about Professor Tom Smith’s new research tool, PreCYdent? It’s an amazing concept and it works quite well, even though only in its early stages.

A description from Professor Smith:

Right now our library consists of all US Supreme Court cases and US Court of Appeals cases going back to the 1950s (i.e. F.3d and F.2d). Automatic updaters are in place, so new cases are uploaded in slip opinion form as soon as they are released by these courts. We are working on having the last ten years of cases from all 50 states available soon. Everything is in XML.

It’s free. We believe that all law that is in the public domain should be available to everybody for free. Personally, I think I paid for it once already around April 15th or so.

More details here and here.
eDelaware Potter Anderson Corroon LLP Above the Law blog.jpg3. eDelaware. This last tool is a bit more focused than the others mentioned above; it’s all about Delaware law (of special interest to the corporate lawyers among you). From eDelaware’s press release:

eDelaware is free mobile software that will provide instant access to the full text of key Delaware statutes, along with case law summaries, through a BlackBerry® smartphone device. It is the first mobile software developed by a law firm that allows for seamless, wireless access to important statutes and case law summaries, all of which will be updated so as to provide the most current content possible.

Good stuff. As clients grow more cheap cost-conscious, expect free and/or low-cost research resources to grow in importance.
Update: One more link to add — the new Commercial Law Center, brought to you by LexisNexis. Much of the center is free — e.g., the Weekly Wrapup podcasts, the Insider Perspective blog, and many items listed in Featured Content (which currently includes a Sub-Prime Litigation webcast).
Public Library of Law [via Fastcase]
PreCYdent search engine [via The Right Coast]
eDelaware [via Potter Anderson & Corroon]
Commercial Law Center [via LexisNexis]

(hidden for your protection)

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