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The information on Groklaw is not intended to constitute legal advice. While Mark is a lawyer and he has asked other lawyers and law students to contribute articles, all of these articles are offered to help educate, not to provide specific legal advice. They are not your lawyers.

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Google Scholar - A Suggestion: Why Not Google Legal?
Monday, November 22 2004 @ 02:51 AM EST

Google has announced a new service, Google Scholar. I think it's a fabulous idea. John Markhoff of the NYTimes explains [sub req'd]:

Google Scholar . . . is a result of the company's collaboration with a number of scientific and academic publishers and is intended as a first stop for researchers looking for scholarly literature like peer-reviewed papers, books, abstracts and technical reports.

Google executives declined to say how many additional documents and books had been indexed and made searchable through the service. While the great majority of recent scholarly papers and periodicals are indexed on the Web, many have not been easily accessible to the public.

You can read about Google Scholar on their FAQ page, which is quite enjoyable, as there is a bit of the usual dry Google wit.

Here are a couple of their "frequently asked" questions, and since they just began the service, I assume they mean inevitably anticipated:

  • The description of my article is wrong and I am appropriately outraged. How do I have it corrected?

  • My university subscribes to the Journal of Prosimian Dialectical Reasoning. How do I read the full text of their articles?

A Suggestion for Google -- Google Legal

I have a suggestion for Google. Why not a Google Legal? Would it not be wonderful to have legal documents readily available and organized in one place for the general public? Groklaw is the proof of concept that non-lawyers are interested. Proprietary services like LexisNexis have cases sewn up currently, but there is one thing about it. Legal documents are public domain. If they are obtained not from proprietary sources, but instead from the courts directly, it is fine to post them. We do it on Groklaw all the time. Just harvesting what is already on the Internet would be useful, but at 7 cents a page on Pacer, it seems economically feasible to do pretty much everything, at least on the federal level even if you didn't wish to go directly to the courthouse. Some states are more digitally with it than others. Utah, for example, is cutting edge, Delaware has discovered the Internet and is working on it, and some states, like Nevada haven't yet addressed the digital issue. Here is a list of the courts that do not participate on Pacer, and local courts you'd need to contact directly. But even with digitally-challenged states or courts, you can usually contact transcription services the courts use, in-house or out, to get legal documents for a minimal fee.

In short, with funding, it's a doable task. I seriously see a need for this and a way to do it, and I hope they look into it. Of course, they would need to read the case law first, and run it past their legal department, naturally, to make sure they don't repeat the errors of others in the past, but in no way would a service like this undermine Westlaw or Lexis, who provide a wonderful service tailored to lawyers, who need and appreciate the value add they get from such services. Obviously, links to such services would be included. The rest of us nonlawyers, though, and smaller law firms that can't afford such services, can make do with the documents, plain vanilla, plus scholarly articles and legal commentary explaining how the system works, some of which is already available on the Internet and could likely be greatly enhanced by a Google Legal collaboration with legal publishers. Just having it all organized would be a great help.

If you are in a legal scholarly mood, you might enjoy Dan Hunter's article, "Amateur to Amateur", which you can get from a great legal service called Social Science Research Network Electronic Library. Here is their searchable Legal Scholarship Network page, which states its goal like this: "The goal of LSN is to facilitate the distribution of scholarly information related to law to legal, economics, and business scholars and practitioners throughout the world." The article is free to download, although others available there are $5 or so.

Cornell University Law School's Legal Information Institute Releases Code Under CC License

And there is another wonderful resource. Cornell University Law School's Legal Information Institute makes US Code freely available, as well as US Supreme Court oral argument previews from liibulletin, The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Federal Rules of Evidence, Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, Uniform Commercial Code, and other key reference works in linked and structured pdf format, which you can download for personal use for a fee, or you are free to use their website until the cows come home: "The content of all of these publications can be explored and indeed used, without limit, at our website." They also offer a lexicon of legal terms. And they have appellate decisions that are in the news as well as a page on how to do legal research.

I wrote to Thomas R. Bruce, Director, Legal Information Institute, whose bio says that he cofounded the LII (with Co-Director Emeritus Peter Martin) in 1992, served for several years as Director of Educational Technologies at the Cornell Law School, and is the author of Cello, the first Web browser for Microsoft Windows, and of a variety of other software tools used by the LII and others."

What prompted me to write was this press release last month, announcing that LLI was for the first time releasing the complete US Code in XML format under a Creative Commons license, as well as the underlying XML version as a dataset for use by researchers interested in legal text:

Legal Information Institute Releases Complete United States Code in XML Format.

Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute has announced the release of a new online edition of the United States Code, including all the Federal law passed by Congress currently in force. For the first time, the project team is also releasing the underlying XML version as a dataset for use in research.

The XML data set has been generated from the most recent official version made available by the US House of Representatives, codified under fifty "titles". The United States Code "is the official compilation of the Federal statutes of a general and permanent nature; by Federal statute, the Law Revision Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives is the publisher and compiler of the Code, and the Counsel is an appointee of the Speaker of the House."

Thomas R. Bruce, Director of Cornell's Legal Information Institute (LII), suggests that this edition of the United States Code represents perhaps the largest body of legislation ever made available online in XML format for use by researchers interested in legal text. One of the goals of the US Code project is to stimulate interest on the part of the research community in working with legal text, and to survey the uses to which people put XML versions of legislation.

According to the LII's USC Bell Code Browsing Environment User Guide, the Institite is sponsoring a "continuing effort to render the United States Code as an open-source multi-use XML data set. An important part has been to develop an environment to make the raw data, and emerging interpretations of it, as visible as possible in an analytical mode. As this is primarily a laboratory artifact, not many user friendliness features have been implemented; the emphasis has been utility for someone who knows the project."

The US Code supplied to the Legal Information Institute "is marked up for typesetting; [the project team] uses this specialized markup to help discover the structure to motivate more generalized XML elements. In a preliminary micro-translation, the control-code based input is rendered in a quite literal readable format, which is then stored as a file with the same scope as the input (title or appendix) as well as fragmented along data-natural boundaries and rendered as static HTML for easy viewing."

The U.S. Code XML data is licensed under a Creative Commons License. The relevant Creative Commons "Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0" license ensures that users are are free to: (1) copy, distribute, display, and perform the work, and (2) to make derivative works, provided that attribution is given to the original author credit, that the use is noncommercial, and that derivative works which alter, transform, or build upon the original are distributed only under the identical Creative Commons License."

It's actually under the 2.0 license. Here is how Mr. Bruce describes what they are doing and how:

"This version of the US Code is the latest in a project that’s been going on since we put the first Federal legislation on the Net in 1992-1993 (you and Groklaw-ites won’t be surprised to learn that the first thing we did was Title 17, Copyright – in Gopher, no less, for those whose memory is that long). We’ve been at it ever since, with some funding from our parent institution (the Cornell Law School), and from the former Red Hat Foundation, which became the Center for the Public Domain. We’re now largely supported by contributions from our user base and of course I’d encourage anybody who likes what we do to make a donation – we’re a very small organization, for all that we’re inside a big university, and every little bit helps us a lot.

"We’ve been using XML quietly, in the background, for a few years now, but this is the first time we’ve released the underlying XML to the world. We hope it’ll encourage information scientists, computational linguists, and others to work with this material – we’re particularly eager to encourage more work on legal text, hoping that it will result in more freely-available information of the kind we offer on our site. The version we use is up-converted from something called 'locator-code data' – essentially typesetting data with escape codes – that we get from the US House of Representatives and its Office of the Law Revision Counsel. It’s converted using a series of rather complicated Perl scripts to create the XML version, and XSLT to make a static HTML derivative; we use Mason, swish-e, Apache, mySQL, and all that good stuff in serving it up. The technically-curious will find a disorganized collection of research notes here, and a dated but accessible explanation of the project in presentation form here. We owe special thanks to Eric Loach and Elliott Chabot of the House staff for their cheerful assistance through the years, and to any number of volunteers and students who have bent their minds around the textual contortions of Congress and helped stuff them into structured and accessible data formats. Anyway… hope you and everyone else gets some use out of it, and I’ll be eager to hear about any derivatives."

You can find the HTML version at http://assembler.law.cornell.edu/uscode; the XML is available for download at http://lula.law.cornell.edu/uscxml. Here are some of the other references Cornell lists [scroll down]:

Contact information is on that page as well. But back to my idea for Google, all the pieces are available and online now as far as laws and yet there remains a key piece missing, filings and decisions in legal cases. The public can't get those without subcriptions and money being exchanged. Even if they are willing to pay, most don't know where to go to do so. Even when they know, it's scattered all over the place.

If Google did it, I absolutely would use it, and I'd gladly endure ads to get at it. Or if Cornell's LII wanted to expand and do it, I'd encourage everyone to donate money (in fact, they already deserve our support and here's where you can go to do so) and volunteer labor, if needed. It's really important, I think, for someone to do it. The law affects people more directly now than ever in history, particularly in the area of intellectual property law, and they know it and are interested in participating more knowledgeably. And the simple truth is, without complete case law, you really can't understand the law thoroughly. There are many case decisions available on the Internet, but only recent cases, for the most part, and usually only higher profile ones. I know that because I frequently hit that stone wall, when I'm trying to link to cases for Groklaw. I'd been thinking of explaining that whole process more thoroughly on Groklaw, but if you click on Cornell's legal research link, you'll get a fine overview of how to do research in case law, and how impossible it is to do it without a paid service currently.

So, there's my idea, Google. Hope you like it enough to do it, because otherwise I might get it into my head that I need to do it, and you know what that can lead to. Joke. Joke. Groklaw can't do it, because we're volunteers, and it's an idea that requires some funding, so that is why I am passing the idea along to you, and I sincerely hope you decide to implement it. If not, the idea is out there now, and as Thomas Jefferson pointed out, it's a mighty powerful and useful thing to send an idea into the world.


  


Google Scholar - A Suggestion: Why Not Google Legal? | 117 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
OT Here Please
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 22 2004 @ 04:06 AM EST
This thread is for current events, new legal filings and CC10 rulings. Please
use HTML formatted for links (for those who don't use Firefox).

[ Reply to This | # ]

Google Scholar - A Suggestion: Why Not Google Legal?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 22 2004 @ 04:07 AM EST
Having read the article thereis one thing puzzling me.
Why if you use like using Google, and go so far as to suggest how they could
usefully extend its scope do you not allow Google, and hence the rest of the
world trawl Groklaw.
Is this position not incompatible with open source movement ideals?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections Here Please
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 22 2004 @ 04:07 AM EST
You know what to do.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Google Legal?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 22 2004 @ 05:21 AM EST

Hm, Google does seem to pride themselves on hiring sharp people - may be a
happy job that wouldn't have any strings attached, no?

Just a thought.. ;-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Will it be something like Citeseer?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 22 2004 @ 05:43 AM EST
There is something similar, called Citeseer. A lot of publications indexed, mostly available for downloading.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Public Domain?
Authored by: joeblakesley on Monday, November 22 2004 @ 07:54 AM EST
Legal documents are public domain

This may well be true in some juridsictions, but I did not tihnk it was (always) true in mine (UK).

Does anyone have evidence as to what extent this is true in various jurisdictions and for various types of document?

Also, if this was true and the commercial services mentioned are not modifying the documents, then, surely, there would be no problem copying them from those services.


---
Joe Llywelyn Griffith Blakesley

[ Reply to This | # ]

Google Scholar - A Suggestion: Why Not Google Legal?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 22 2004 @ 08:46 AM EST
I'm wondering if using Groklaw as proof for the general interest is a
stastically significant sample. This is a special case, I think, in that people
who are passionate about linux take SCOs actions personally, and this is the
best way to follow it. As for lawyers, they may be interested in groklaw for
the IP issues which seem to be a wave of the future, and so this has piqued
their curiousity. Further, the popularity of this new, unique approach may be
stirring up the legal community to read groklaw to witness something literally
unimaginable only a few years ago actually happen.

Surely people being sued would like to read up on some cases that are similar,
and googlaw would be great for that, but for widespread, mass appeal, I'm not so
sure. Reading legal documents is, usually to me (as a programmer, not a lawer),
more boring that watching paint dry.

The joy of groklaw is the community. Its value starts as commentary provided
first by PJ and other article authors, and then by the group analyzing and
extending, correcting, and interacting.

Law documents outside this active, versitile environment, are stuffy, dusty,
dull, and boring.

So, maybe I'm wrong, but I really am not sure that google could make money from
googlaw unless they really wanted to compete with the pros like Westlaw.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why google won't do it.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 22 2004 @ 08:53 AM EST
Legal science is different form every other kind of knowledge, because it is
different in different countries. "Google legal" would only be useful
for Americans, or for people who have legal interests in the USA.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Google Scholar - a flawed service
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 22 2004 @ 09:39 AM EST
Google Scholar is useful to someone who has access to a good library. It's useless to the rest of us because it doesn't give free access to the text of all the papers.

In other words, it's a service inspired by pre-Internet ideas. It is not fulfilling the promise of the internet - free access to all information, from anywhere.

Let's be quite clear, by the way, where the access fees for the full text of the articles go. None of this money goes to the people who did the research and wrote or reviewed the paper. (Nor should it, because academic researchers get paid a salary to do research.) The money goes to the publishers. It goes, in other words, to the companies which are making it hard to get at the information in the first place.

I really hope that academics agree on internet-based publishing, to cut these greedy and useless companies out of the loop.

[ Reply to This | # ]

MSN Legal - A great way for MSN to compete with Google!
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 22 2004 @ 11:04 AM EST
And the best part for M$ would be that they could control the content!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Google Scholar - A first test
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 22 2004 @ 11:16 AM EST
Well, I'm a researcher, and at the moment I use for-pay index services for
researching litterature, so obviously google scholar is of interest to me.

I tried searching on some specific terms on my current area of research.
(in which I'm about to publish a paper, and quite up-to-speed on the
litterature)

First off, I get a spelling suggestion. I suspect this might end up annoying
people over time. In science you end up using a lot of specialist words not
found in the ordinary dictionary.

I did get results. Many papers familiar to me. But I'm not quite certain as how
Google is doing their ranking here. The first hit was not the most cited paper
on the subject, nor the newest, nor the one published in the most highly-ranked
journal. A bit strange. Trying again with a few different topics, I did get a
bit more significant journals at the top, but still not 'The Paper' on the
subject.

I'd like to be able to have the results ordered by these different criteria.

It's nice, but at least at the moment, it's not as good as the existing non-free
services. Given you still need a subscription to read the papers and the cost of
journal subscriptions these days, I don't know if this will change much. Of
course, some university libraries might take the chance to save at least a
little money by replacing their existing index-service-subscriptions with Google
instead.

It'll be interesting to see where this leads..

[ Reply to This | # ]

Keep in mind privacy issues
Authored by: mjreilly on Monday, November 22 2004 @ 11:31 AM EST
One one hand, I think that making legal docs available for easy searching is a
good idea. Take the SCO case -- this case has a direct impact and many of use
who use.work with Linux. The availability of legal docs from PACER makes it much
more possible to determine our own risk.

On the other, even in this purely corporate case, when PJ has posted text
versions, she has redacted personal information such as phone #s and addresses.
For many other cases such as insurance disputes and divorce proceedings,
evidence is produced that is very personal (such as medical histories).

In many charged cases, there are often serious claims about a person's behavior
or lifestyle. Just because these claims have been made, does not mean that they
have been true. Part of Groklaw's existance is to counter claims made by SCO in
their law preceedings, but most people in other cases don't have that benefit.

If I'm every engaged in a law suit as plantiff, witness or defendant, and I need
to make my phone#, address, social security #, medical history, etc. public
record, I don't want anyone to be able to Google me and get that. If someone
disparages me in some usenet group, I can always respond. But if someone
disparages me in court, they are immune to charges of slander, and I can respond
only as much as the judge lets me.

Any such Googling plan would need to first address basic issues of personal
privacy.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Federal isn't where the problem is.
Authored by: mwexler on Monday, November 22 2004 @ 12:52 PM EST
There are reasonable places to get Federal and State case law, but if you want
to get results from a County or Municipal court, its much more difficult.
Here is my suggestion, they set up Google Law kind of like Froogle. Each
jurisdiction can sign up and get a description of the format for uploading cases
and an FTP account. Then the jurisdiction can just upload the cases to Google
Legal (Glegal.com?). Glgegal can also spider some of the sites that currently
have federal and state case law.
There is no reason juridictions outside of the US couldn't take advantage of
this service.

It has several advantages. It would provide a cheap way for jurisdictions that
don't currently have their stuff on the web to get it there. It would also make
a much wider range of legal information available to a much larger range of
people.

Here is a controversial twist on the idea. Could google share the ad revenue for
the pages that it gets from a particular jurisdiction with the jurisdiction
itself? Then rather than being a cost-center, publishing the case-law for a
jurisdiction could be a profit-center.

Note, it doesn't have to be google that does this, but given there search
technology and resources, it seems a natural.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Do not rely on google
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 22 2004 @ 02:13 PM EST
Try doing an image search for Abu Graib or Lyndie England on images.google.com.
You will NOT get any images that might be used as proof of American war crimes
in Iraq. Now do the same search on another site like dogpile, and you will see
the images of prisoners being tortured. Why is google censoring these images?


If Google were to index legal documents, how would we know if they are censoring
out important documents at the request of unknown parties?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Google Scholar - A Suggestion: Why Not Google Legal?
Authored by: tbruce on Monday, November 22 2004 @ 02:51 PM EST
I'd like to say "Hey, you're welcome" to PJ (I direct, if that's the
word, the LII), and to respond a bit to the suggestion.

For one thing, you might ask just why something like what PJ proposes hasn't
happened already. Good question. Lots and lots and lots of courts and
legislatures, by no means all in the US, are self-publishing. Why can't we pull
all that together, so to speak?

Well, first of all, these self-publishers have limited ideas about "public
access". Most imagine that putting stuff on a Web site is sufficient; they
don't think about discoverability. My favorite example of that was one of the
US Circuit Courts of Appeal (one layer down from the Supreme Court) that, a few
years back, offered all of their opinions online... but only through a search
engine that you could only search by docket number (the internal unique
identifier assigned to the case by the court). I'm not sure who they
imagined the "public" to be, but plainly not anybody much beyond the
parties involved in the case. Most others imagine that lawyers or other repeat
players in the system are their only audience. Many disallow robot access
completely (at least to *polite* robots).

Second reason it hasn't happened is a concern, addressed here on Groklaw in
another thread, about privacy. Courts are legitimately concerned about hanging
out dirty laundry. Sure, this stuff is already public information, in theory,
but the practicalities of "public" used to imply "it's in a
filing cabinet in the basement of some courthouse somewhere" -- a far cry
from "hung out on the Internet for all to see". This scares courts,
and it should.

Third reason is commercial; courts and legislatures do pretty well out of
more-or-less exclusive arrangements with legal publishers, and some worry
(excessively, I think) about endangering those relationships by giving away the
store. There's a long lecture on value-adding and market segmentation I could
give here, but won't; suffice it to say that I don't think the private
publishers (or the law-creating bodies) stand to lose very much by this.
Clearly some of them don't, either -- FindLaw is owned by West Group's corporate
parent, and operates at a profit.

Fourth reason is a lack of commitment. Grok-law-ites will probably be less
surprised than most groups to learn this... but there's a sense in which the
entire official electronic publication of the United States Code rests on the
shoulders of one support guy at the House of Representatives. If he's out sick,
the updates to Title 26 don't go up (that'd be all of tax law). In general,
data-systems staffs at courts and legislatures have too much to do and most of
it ain't publishing.

But leaving all that aside and trying (briefly) to figure out what needs to
happen now, the answer is quite simply discoverability. You can't Google it if
it's locked up in th e deep Web somewhere, past the ability of spiders to reach.
I think that most courts and legislatures will eventually succumb to pressure to
self-publish, but that's not a guarantee that we'll know that they have, or be
able to find the work product using Google. Some might argue with the idea
that universal self-publication is inevitable -- I won't write an elaborate
rationale for that here; it's just been a trend so far and it'll continue.
Probably, as someone points out elsewhere, it'll be the little local pieces that
do it last, but even they will in time. The problem, then, will be one of
putting it all together. And that gets significantly easier to do if there is a
standardized method for discovering what each court or legislature has
available.

With that in mind as the single biggest barrier, I've become a great believer in
what the folks at the Open Archives Initiative are doing. It's a similar
problem -- how to federate a very large set of repositories operated by
different institutional actors into a big glob in which you can easily find
stuff -- but in the realm of scientific literature rather than legal
information. Nevertheless, the same ideas and technical scaffolding could
readily be applied by law-creators if they were of a mind to.

Best,
Tb.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"back where we started"
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 22 2004 @ 03:13 PM EST
Does anyone realize where the idea for Google's PAgeRank system came from? - It
came from the way legal documents are referenced. The co-founders saw how legal
docs always reference other legal docs and that the 'best' docs (the precedents)
were the ones that were referenced the most. They decided to do the same with
the web and web-pages.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Text versions
Authored by: AdamBaker on Monday, November 22 2004 @ 04:20 PM EST
The biggest problem I see is that to be useful the search engine needs access to
the text versions of documents, not scanned PDFs. For many courts the only thing
that is publically available is a scanned PDF.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Google Scholar - A Suggestion: Why Not Google Legal?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 22 2004 @ 05:14 PM EST
This is a good idea, but it may not be something that Open Source could sustain
for long enough to overcome the existing momentum.

When I consulted with West Publishing (circa 1998) they had at least two top end
ES/9000 (the actual bulk of the searching was done on the mainframes). A couple
of Amdahl mainframes, Several (>5) TB of DASDI, many ATLs et all. Then they
had about 150 UNIX systems (AIX and Solaris), Two E10000 and a couple of SP/2
systems and lots and lots of 5XX series boxen and Ultra 2 or 250s boxes. Not to
mention the Windoze systems. Plus LOTS of phone lines for their own modem pool
so that the clerks of the courts that West has/had agreements with could upload
the daily happenings. The bulk of the West legal library was in ADABASE D and
tons of PL/1. So from a technological standpoint Google Legal may be a daunting
task.

For over 100 years the Legal world has used Wests Patented (expired 2000) method
of referencing legal cases. Even if there were a top notch "free"
system, it is very difficult to get old (crusty) judges to give up their tried
and true KeyCite notation. Even if you came up with the most wonderful
annotation system in the world, it would still take many years to overcome the
momentum that exists.

Then comes the "value added" portion that makes it harder.
Thompson/West has contracts with places like the US Supreme Court to have all
decisions rendered by the court available in WestLaw within two hours. This is
a difficult task to do with Open Source (but not imposable) since they are not
used to having SLAs like that. Then there are annotations. These are opinions
from West staff legal "experts" which can help someone doing research
on a particular law. This is not something that the OSS is used to but I am
not saying that it could not be done but it would (and should) give pause for
thought on the subject.

Some states like Minnesota have their own web sight for Laws and Statutes.
http://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/statutes.asp So in some way it is started.

What would be interesting is to create a (software) framework that each
state/entity could use this to store their laws and then have a meta web page to
point to each entity. The real trouble comes in to play when you need to allow
for the uniqueness of each state. Louisiana state laws are not like any other
state since they had most of their law basis from French common law, whereas the
rest of the US is based on English common law. Some states like New York have
much older ideas about law (no mutual discovery, etc) than say a Nevada or
Minnesota. Some states like California have an interesting system too which is
different than other states. Hats off to Google or the OSS community if they
can do it. One place to suggest this idea might be www.naag.org where you could
get "buy in" and help from the horses' mouth (so to speak).


[ Reply to This | # ]

A Broader Lii
Authored by: starsky on Monday, November 22 2004 @ 05:27 PM EST
The Cornell Lii is just one of many. If you are going to make the google equivalent, you jump up one level. The Cornell Lii has been aggregated with:
UK - Baillii
Aus/Nz - Austlii
Canada - CanLii
Hong Kong - HkLii
Pacific Islands - Paclii
South Africa - Saflii

into Worldlii

Now, I really, appreciate the Lii Databases, they were invaluable in my legal studeis as part of my finance post grad. Particularly when looking for precendence in international case law. All of the lii databases have a shared mission. They declare on this page:

  • Public legal information from all countries and international institutions is part of the common heritage of humanity. Maximising access to this information promotes justice and the rule of law;
  • Public legal information is digital common property and should be accessible to all on a non-profit basis and free of charge;
  • Independent non-profit organisations have the right to publish public legal information and the government bodies that create or control that information should provide access to it so that it can be published
Now they are not complete sources of law, but improving the indexing and searchability of this resource would make a great start.

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