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Google For Attorneys- Landmark Changes Offer Landmark Opinions

Google revolutionizes legal research by adding case law to Google Scholar for lawyers

//Kevin Quinlan/ 02/01/2010

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Kevin Quinlan, President of Cepac lawyer marketing reports on the addition of court opinions and case law to the Google Scholar search engine and the impact on lexis nexis, westlaw and law firms across the country.

On November 16th in what was a somewhat shocking revelation, Google announced that their Google Scholar search engine would now provide free access to legal case law online. Google Scholar is a simple, easy to use, multi-disciplinary search engine that finds articles, theses, books abstracts and now court opinions across the Internet. It allows scholarly research in a diverse array of fields and locates the complete documents from libraries, publishers, universities and other websites.

There is a great buzz on legal blogs and across the Internet as prior to this development proprietary companies that have counted on case law as a revenue stream for many years have held these legal abstracts and opinions closely. The work product of judges and attorneys operating in our court system is a matter of public record, but until now was only available online from companies such as Lexis Nexis and Thompson Reuters (Westlaw) for a fee.

While many law firms around the US will likely maintain their subscriptions to these services, Google has stated in their blog "this addition to Google Scholar will empower the average citizen by helping everyone learn more about the laws that govern us all". The service provides links to cases that have been influenced by the different decisions so that the historical context of important cases can be studied. The search results pages have "Cited by and Related articles" links under each search result to help facilitate further study.

Both Lexis and Westlaw offer products that are specially designed for attorneys and law firms. and although expensive. will not become obsolete by this new offering. Both are putting a positive spin on the development indicating that they have no problem with government created content being available for free, but that their clients require much more than the raw content that will be found on Google Scholar searches. While it may not be a replacement now, it certainly might be a good starting point for research and who knows what additional functionality that Google may offer down the road to potentially make it more of a head-to-head competitor. For now it may just offer a cost effective way to keep the expense of prelininary research done for potential clients to a minimum in this challenging economy.

For information on law firm marketing, legal web design and SEO for attorneys, contact Kevin Quinlan.


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