Crowd-Sourced Legal Database: Use Technology to Think Like a Lawyer

Presented by: Mariam Morshedi

Subscript, a nonprofit organization, has recently launched a website to provide a means of free legal education to the general public.  The site is a “wiki” model, which, like Wikipedia, allows the general public to enter information about laws, regulations and cases.  This site has the potential to be a free and entirely publicly-sourced legal database.

This workshop will teach the audience about the issues of using an open-source model for a subject like law, which must be very accurate.  The presenters, members of Subscript, will outline the organization’s start-up efforts (i.e. adding startup content and gaining a certain amount of viewership so the site will catch-on).  The audience will learn how the site’s format and fields for content-entry ensure correctness of the information entered.

Barriers to information access are very strong in the legal field.  This results from the cost of entry into the legal profession, barriers to legal certification, the history of legal jargon, and other socio-economic factors.  We have the technology today to break-down some of these barriers by encouraging non-lawyers to educate themselves about law and giving them the tools traditionally retained by the legal elite.   This presentation will show how an open source format can encourage the public to “learn by doing.”

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