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More sources on Google Scholar case law…

Update Weds. – Monica Bay at American Lawyer Media’s Common Scold quotes Rick Klau with more detail about Google’s sourcing, and has statements from Lexis Nexis and Thomson Reuters.

By way of updates to my own initial take on Google Scholar’s inclusion of cases, here are other early sources about the product launch:
The Official Google Blog now has an announcement and description of the service.

Duke Law Library’s The Goodson Blogson has a nice write-up, includes important notes about Google Scholar’s links to materials available only through library-based subscriptions, and also points out the limitations of this model of searching when compared to the nuance possible (but not always achieved) with Lexis’ or Westlaw’s boolean Terms & Connectors searching. (They also link the Duke Law Library’s useful research guide to Legal Research on the Web.)

The Supreme Court of Texas Blog has a nice illustrated walk-through.

The University of Nebraska’s Richard Leiter has a self-described ‘mini-review’ on his The Life of Books.

Laura Bergus at Social Media Law Student provides a (social-media savvy) 1L’s perspective on Google Scholar’s case law searching. While her critique of Westlaw/Lexis usability is informative and illustrative, I hope she and her readers do understand the limitations of the Google/ranking approach to the high-recall-required search often required in thorough legal research.

Greg Lambert uses the Google Scholar launch as a springboard for discussing the broader potential for new competition in the legal research marketplace.

Jim Calloway notes the inclusion of Hein Online material in results.

Internet for Lawyers’ cites Tim Stanley’s and Carl Malamud’s Twitter comments for likely database scope:

While there is no documentation on the Scholar site yet regarding coverage of the database, a number of other tweets form reliable sources (including Tim Stanley and Carl Malamud) indicate that it includes:
* 1 US 1 (pre 1776)
* 1 F 2d 1 (1924 +)
* F Supp Cases
* US State Cases (1950+)

One single comment

  1. Laura Bergus says:

    Your points are well-taken that the kind of searching (and the results) of a typical Google search and a traditional electronic legal search are vastly different. As for law students, however, I see two significant implications:
    1) Our facility with Google Scholar searches and how we prioritize usefulness of results will necessarily change how we react to learning Westlaw and Lexis. Google Scholar has made it ok to push back against the search, indexing and proprietary-syntax based systems that many of us find counter-intuitive. What will happen if students are able to come up with qualitatively “better” results, even from a smaller set of sources, because we understand the system from the start? It’s exciting to look towards a legal education that embracing all of these different tools.
    2) Students now must understand that we will not have a monopoly on the law. Our clients will come to us with suggestions for the legal theory of their case, and even citations for precedent. We can’t turn away from this impending reality, but we also must realize that this is not something that practicing attorneys (except those who represent other attorneys) have much experience with. Will our legal education change to focus on the new, collaborative-yet-shepherding role we will have to play for better-informed clients?