AALL session recap: How Collaboration and Crowdsourcing are Changing Legal Research
Bob Ambrogi, lawyer, consultant and blogger at Law Sites, spoke at a well-attended session this morning at the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Annual Meeting. Titled “Playing Well With Others: How Collaboration and Crowdsourcing are Changing Legal Research,” Ambrogi’s presentation began with a light-hearted scolding of lawyers and legal professionals who simply “aren’t very good at sharing.”
“Crowdsourcing requires sharing and lawyers tend to be very possessive, so that makes it difficult,” said Ambrogi.
He cited the giants like Thomson Reuters, Lexis, and Bloomberg, who take raw legal information and have an army of editors who annotate it, organize it and comment on it. “But we don’t have all those paid people to do this for us when it comes to legal research on the internet. That is where crowdsourcing comes in,” he stated.
Why would a legal researcher want to do this? To establish credibility, according to Ambrogi. “Blogging is another way of doing this. It’s a good example of pulling together all the commentary out there so it lives in one place,” he said. “The more we can tap into the collective knowledge out there and use professionals to share their own legal materials in one central space…that’s a real benefit.”
Ambrogi then shared some examples of crowdsourcing gone wrong, where sites were built and abandoned or simply not updated enough to be effective. Examples include Spindle Law, Jurify and Standardforms.org.
He then went on to showcase three examples of great crowdsourced sites:
- Wex, from Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Dictionary (LII)
- CanLII Connects from the Canadian Legal Info Institute
So how can lawyers learn to play well with others? Ambrogi offered the following tips, in closing:
- Make it easy to contribute
- Make it rewarding to contribute
- Make the content useful to others
- Success will breed success.