In an opinion yesterday, Judge Oetken ruled that internet search engines are immune from liability under the Communications Decency Act (CDA) for indexing websites with negative articles about the plaintiff, a lawyer:

Courts have interpreted the CDA to give search engines broad immunity from defamation and other related causes of action resulting from their aggregation and republication of third-party content.

Because Defendants were acting only as publishers of sites whose content caused [the plaintiff’s] alleged injury, the CDA immunizes Defendants from liability. And the CDA’s broad protection for internet publishers also protects Defendants from any obligation to remove or de-index any links.

The Court is sensitive to the deep personal harms that can result from hurtful information posted on the internet. But the CDA prevents individuals from “su[ing] the messenger.”

Author:  Steptoe & Johnson LLP - Charles A. Michael

Source:  http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=a30f694b-0333-4093-8a16-a7a849071560

Categorized in Internet Ethics

The Internet offers researching lawyers a ton of information from countless sources. All for free.

Rather than publishing a book or a journal article, legal professionals with niche expertise can share their research, insight, and commentary in a blog post. Lawyers conducting research can turn to Google and have a list of relevant sources — often such blog posts. Lawyers will soon be turning to Alexa for answers.

Should lawyers avoid such online resources, never before available, because they’re free and not provided by a legal publisher charging a subscription?

Yes, according to Minneapolis lawyer and blog writer for Thomson Reuters, Jeremy Byellin, in a post on the Legal Solutions Blog.

"Google is great for finding answers to random questions that come up such as movie times and trivia answers. However, is your run-of-the-mill search engine truly correct for your legal research?"

Byellin argues that you can’t tell if the authority is still valid, verifying resources takes time, there’s no centralized research, and your research is not automatically saved.

But Byellin goes off the tracks contending that the amount information available on the Web is limited as compared to subscription services.

"There is undoubtedly a plethora of information available on free websites. However, it is highly unlikely that these sites have anywhere near the sheer volume of resources that are found on paid legal research (link to Westlaw advertisement) services."

Lawyers I checked with across the country, via a Facebook discussion, aren’t buying the argument that free resources should be avoided.

Per Michigan lawyer and veteran bloggerEnrico Schaefer, whose firm has carved out a national practice, via technology and innovation:

"[Google is] the perfect way to start all research and spot issues. There is no legitimate argument against google-based research for lawyers. Research is always about digging deeper. Just because Google represents the first couple of shovel fulls doesn’t make it any less important than pulling the cases and keycite."

Seattle lawyer and publisher of the IP Litigation Blog, Phil Mann, adds:

"Nine times out of ten, a simple Google search is effective in leading me to blogs discussing the principal cases and relevant law. For “deeper” research, going to Pacer and downloading the principal briefs is often effective, and can save considerable time in writing, too."

Austin family law attorney, Michael Whelan, says the open web is a good place to start:

"We may start with Google to get a quick idea of the issues, but we’ll take that direction to dig deeper. There’s something to be said for starting with far more readable resources when doing general research."

California lawyer Emma Louise McCavana agrees:

"Cursory research using Google is a great first step to help identify issues not just legal issues and help begin the path of research. When litigating, Westlaw is the resource of choice for primary law and sources. Google books also allows access to some secondary resources not otherwise available. Reliance, if any, on blogs -tertiary. Trusting your source is key."

There will be certain practices where lawyers feel most comfortable sticking to paid subscriptions. Texas appellate lawyer and publisher of the Texas Appellate Law Blog, Todd Smith says:

"I never rely on Google for legal research, but that’s largely a function of the kind of work I do (civil appeals). Westlaw is a must for me.Most blogs don’t go into the kind of depth I need to be useful for anything other than a 30,000-foot view. That’s not a knock on blogs—you know I’m a fan. I’m generally looking at something in fine detail, and case law and law-review-type commentary are usually a better access point for me."

Texas cybersecurity lawyer and long time blogger, Shawn Tuma, seeing five links to a Westlaw research ad in Byellin’s post, captures it well:

"They are all tools — like any professional uses — tools, multiple tools. You may have the best hammer in the world but, if all you have is a hammer, you’re not building many houses. Of course, when you’re sponsored by the hammer manufacturer, then of course you try to argue that all you ever need is a hammer!I use everything that is available, letting my professional training, experience, and judgment guide me on which tool is the best for a particular job. Anybody that thinks there are absolutes when it comes to this stuff needs to stop focusing on the trees and see the whole damn forest."

I get that I’m biased towards the value of legal blogs. I was also a plaintiff’s trial lawyer for 17 years, who looked anywhere for good information. No question I’d be all over Google today for ideas from other lawyers, briefs, interrogatories, information to impeaching opposing experts — you name it.

I can’t imagine most lawyers today limiting research on Google to movie and trivia times. Free can be good, if used appropriately.


Source:  http://abovethelaw.com/

Categorized in Investigative Research

Legal research can be the bane of every lawyer and law student's existence.

From poring over textbooks in law libraries to trawling through cases online and offline to prepare for submissions, it is a process that can take hours.

To ease the burden, a group of local entrepreneurs - some of whom are former lawyers - have designed a website that helps lawyers search faster, keep notes and organise their research better.

Launched in January, Intelllex, meaning "intelligent law", has already attracted more than 1,000 users - about half of whom are lawyers and the rest law students.

The service is currently free, but a subscription fee is likely to be introduced next year. Lawyers said it has reduced their research time by 30 to 60 per cent, meaning they can handle more cases.

Mr Chang Zi Qian, one of its four co-founders, said: "The base of legal information is growing exponentially as more cases are reported and at a faster rate. Lawyers have to take into account what is happening around the world and things are more complex than decades ago.

"Demands of clients have also increased. They want all angles and arguments covered and that means a lot more work.

"We're trying to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to solve the problem of knowledge management."

The 30-year-old Singapore Management University law graduate, who served his apprenticeship in commercial litigation at Rajah & Tann Singapore, added that sometimes, partners ask for "fact-specific research" or "quick-turnaround for answers", which can be tough to obtain with existing legal platforms.

His website uses a search algorithm that understands legal case relationships so that it offers more relevant cases, commentaries and statutes across countries.

It focuses on jurisdictions which adopt common law like Singapore, and is able to pick out the legal context of a word or phrase instead of the plain English meaning.

It can also save results for future reference and organise cases according to each lawyer's needs.

"A junior litigation lawyer spends 35 per cent of his time every day doing research," said Mr Chang. "You cannot be billing the client (for) every hour because you have to remain competitive in pricing."

Mr Chang, who spent about four years at the National Research Foundation under the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), enjoyed studying law but wanted to be an entrepreneur.

He and the other co-founders left their jobs a year ago to focus on the start-up full time.

One of them, Mr Edmund Koh, 31, worked as a lawyer in banking and financial disputes at Wong Partnership for four years. The others are Ms Li Jianxin, 28, formerly chief operating officer of an IT start-up based in the United States and Ms Felicia Ng, 28, who worked in talent management at the PMO's Public Service Division.

The team plans to open a Hong Kong office next year.

Lawyers said the service helped to speed up their workflow. Mr Kelvin Ong, 30, a litigation lawyer who has been using Intelllex every day since April, said it consolidates not just cases, but other reference materials not found on other platforms, and offers more relevant results.

"As a litigator, research is our bread and butter," he said, adding that it reduces about 60 to 70 per cent of his research time.

Mr Ronnie Tan, 56, managing partner at Central Chambers LLC, a mid-sized firm with about 23 lawyers, said the access to wider content such as research papers and legal publications on Intelllex saves practitioners from going to other sources like Google.

"When I ask them for research on a point that could be very obscure, they can get back to me within 45 minutes, which is very good," he said. "If they are more efficient, they have the capacity to handle more files."

Source : http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/cutting-tedious-legal-research-with-intelligent-search-engine

Categorized in Search Engine


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