Category Archives: conference

Where legal sources meet technology and their users

Two questions are of importance when discussing legal information retrieval:

  1. Where legal sources meet technology and their users and
  2. When legal sources meet technology and their users

In my opinion, the triad of these building blocks – legal theory, technology and users – has to be taken into consideration when one asks how legal information retrieval can be improved. Carol Kuhlthau said in 1991:

There appears to be a gap between the system’s traditional patterns of information provision and the user’s natural process of information use.

Unfortunately, this statement still holds true in 2010 and I will try to explain how. In order to show some of the inherent discrepancies between the triad of legal IR – as I will call it in the following – one could imagine a scale (of justice).

The scale of legal IR

Considering that users on average use two search words and the amount of legal information is constantly growing, all the responsibility is put on the technology at the moment. In trying to show the possible risks with this scenario, I will – in the following – pinpoint three factors for each of the triad’s building blocks and – in concluding – try to combine these factors in order to show some possible paths for the future.

Legal sources

Generally, legal sources, have, inter alia, three characteristics:

  1. Legal sources are based on text, and therefore suffer from the ambiguities of language. Searching for “law” will not always lead you to legal matters but also to laws of nature, Moore’s law, etc.
  2. Legal sources are published as documents. Though legal professionals will rarely read through a complete act of legislation or collections of cases, it is documents that are retrieved, not smaller pieces of information.
  3. Legal sources are not a unified body of knowledge. Though legal sources commonly follow a certain structure – Act, Chapter, Section, Paragraph; Summary, Facts of the case, Conclusions, Legal Reasoning – this structure is not often taken advantage of. Combining references and links alone are not enough, though inbound links are definitely a start.


As legal sources, technology also builds upon, inter alia, three premises:

  1. Technology relies on mathematics and statistics. Many algorithms work on the basis of mathematical calculations and statistical probabilities.
  2. Technology focuses at information. Most IR systems judge relevance based on the information in the system not necessarily the situation of the user. Relevance is not static but dynamic as the user will learn more about a certain subject during the retrieval process.
  3. Technology likes lists. Most search results are presented in lists of decreasing relevance. Besides the previous point on the dynamics of relevance, certain information might be related in a network way and not necessarily in a hierarchical way.


If we mainly focus on legal professionals in this analysis, one can mention, inter alia, three characteristics:

  1. Users are lazy. Several studies – not the least The principle of least effort by George Zipf – have shown that users like to do as little as possible in order to retrieve the best possible information.
  2. Users are confused. Humans do not think in search words, but in concepts. Pressing all our confusion and knowledge into – on average – 2,5 search words, does not come natural to us.
  3. Users like pictures. Humans think in associations and memory can be improved by visual aids.

Possible solutions

Starting with three factors for each part of the triad of legal IR, I would like to combine these nine factors into three possible paths that can either be taken combined or on their own. Hopefully, however, all paths can contribute to an improvement of legal IR, both for users, technology and legal theory.

text + focus on information + confusion = context

Taken the user’s situation more into account (e.g. what she is working with, her area of expertise) and using this information to affect relevance would not only lessen the ambiguity of the text, but also decrease the confusion of the user.

documents + mathematics/statistics + laziness = workflow

Using smaller information units instead of document units as the basis for statistical and mathematical calculations on how the user might be able to use the information would help the laziness of humans and increase their workflow.

structure + lists + visuality = visualisation

The inherent structure of legal information allows for information to be referenced and put into a larger knowledge base that could be visually presented and thereby serve as a visual tool for the user.

These combinations are only three possibilities out of several others, the pieces of the puzzle can be put together as one likes with possible different outcomes. The puzzle, however, remains. Many different factors come into play when legal sources meet technology and their users. The trick is to find a place where they can all meet.

One place like this is Visuwords, an online graphical dictionary. By combining lines, bubbles, colours and space the users meets a visually appealing and easy to understand structure of information that could facilitate her search for legal knowledge.


  • Anne Aula, Rehan M. Khan and Zhiwei Guan, How does search behavior change as search becomes more difficult?, in Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2010
  • Donald O Case, Looking for information: a survey of research on information seeking, needs, and behavior, 2nd edition; Academic Press; 2007
  • Christine Kirchberger & Staffan Malmgren, Inbound links – picking the low hanging fruit from the semantic web, presented at Workshop on legislative XML 2008 (LXML–2008) – the Law in the Semantic Web and beyond, JURIX 2008, 21st International Conference on Legal Knowledge and Information Systems
  • Jon Kleinberg, The Mathematics of Algorithm Design, in T. Gowers and J. Barrow-Green (eds), Princeton Companion to Mathematics, Princeton Univ. Press, 2008
  • Carol C. Kuhlthau, Inside the search process: Information seeking from the user’s perspective, Journal of the American Society for Information Science 42 (5), 1991, pp 361–371

Final comment

This blog post was inspired by a presentation at a workshop on advanced methods for legal information retrieval, held by the Trust for Legal Information on 26 April 2012. My presentation slides are available as pdf.


Law as an app

This post was originally written in preparation for a conference by the Trust for Legal Information (Stiftelsen för rättsinformation) on ‘Law as a Service’. Being inspired by last year’s VQ Forum, and an blog post titled ‘I Am Now an App™ by Jason Wilson, I would like to share some ideas and thoughts.

When we talk about law as a service or law as an app, we could start by discussing what law is. While legal theorists have done this for quite some time now, there is still no generally accepted answer. If we – more practically – assume that law is there for a purpose – the purpose of making society run smoothly and avoiding unbalance – one could assume that society should be aware of the law on a daily basis in order to allow it to run smoothly.

The ideal law app, therefore, tells a person in advance – proactively – if a legal problem is near and how to avoid it. This could be compared to a GPS navigator warning a car driver of a nearby traffic jam and suggesting alternative routes. Think about how many legal disputes could be prevented just by getting the right information/advice at the right time.

Though not many proactive apps exist in general, yet, a few allow proactive measures. Within the health sector programmes can facilitate living with diabetes allowing check-ups on insulin levels. Productivity apps remind the user of next actions depending on time and/or location.

Most currently available legal applications (Law, Legal ), provide users with legal information, not legal knowledge, however good the quality (e.g. Oxfords Dictionary on Law Enforcement). Some apps even provide networking and discussion functions and simple interactive legal advice.

The next step is to set statutes and cases in a context, in order to consider the situation the user is in, especially concerning private individuals. By utilising the context, geographic location, personal situation, family history, general interests, common shopping interests of a person, a legal app could offer a remedy before a legal issue arises and therefore be more effective than court proceedings taking place after the legal problem already occurred. Privacy issues are, of course, very important, here, and personal integrity has to be considered and protected.

Existing online legal services are on a good way to increase the proactiveness of law and make it less about law than organising one’s life in general. A constant legal health check could, for example, improve the general situation of a person or company and move the legal risk from the ambulance car to the fence on the cliff.

A few questions remain unanswered, however. Two of these are:

  • Who should deliver theses services? This question is related to trust. As Apple™ succeeded in digital music, other organisations than law firms may play an important role in future legal services. In some countries, such as the UK, legislation, such as the Legal Services Act, facilitate this development. When developing these services, legal knowledge as well as technology and user friendliness are of importance and law firms might not necessarily be good in all of these areas.
  • Should there be one supplier of legal services or several? While this is a question that the market will decide eventually, the current situation reflects a flora of different specialised legal services. One can imagine a mixture of a few suppliers close to the consumers that offer bundled services and a larger number of legal services that specialise in certain areas of law.

In conclusion, the legal industry might not always be the first to test new tools or strategies, but the future will sooner or later catch up and context and proactiveness will be the new buzzwords. One example of a legal app with a more futuristic approach is Wolfram Lawyer’s Professional Assistant, which offers very interesting and cool functionalities. While it does not provide a legal GPS for individuals yet, it might just prove that law firms are not necessarily the best to deliver useful proactive apps, though the importance of lawyers being involved during development should not be underestimated.


Further reading:

Quote of the month: Keywords and context

Visiting the Annual Nordic Conference in Legal Informatics in Rovaniemi, Finland, I started thinking about the progress that information retrieval technology has made the last 30 years, and remembered the following statement from 1985:

The user’s task is simply to find the right combination of search terms to retrieve all and only the relevant documents. However, we believe that users should not be asked to shoulder the ‘blame, and perhaps an analogy will indicate why. Suppose you ask a company to make a lock for you, and they oblige by providing a combination lock; but when you ask them for the combination to open the lock, they say that finding the correct combination is your problem, not theirs. Now, it is possible, in principle, to find the correct combination, but in practice it may be impossibly difficult to do so. A full-text retrieval system bears the burden of retrieval failure because it places the user in the position of having to find (in a relatively short time) an impossibly difficult combination of search terms. The person using a full-text retrieval system to find information on a relatively large database is in the same unenviable position as the individual looking for the combination to the lock.

Blair, D.C., and Maron, M.E., An evaluation of retrieval effectiveness for a full-text document-retrieval system, Communications of the ACM 28, 289-299, 1985; p 298

Strangely enough, I am not sure that we have come so much further since then. Though search algorithms may have become more advanced, users still have to employ key words in order to retrieve possible important information. Personalisation of search (taking into account the previous searches of a person) is not the same as putting information retrieval in context (considering the current situation of the user). A clean user interface is not the same as simplicity and effectiveness of search.

VQ Knowledge and Strategy Forum 2011

This week the VQ Knowledge and Strategy Forum took place at Grand Hôtel in Stockholm. As last year the conference featured inspiring and innovative speakers and the possibility to meet knowledge managers, lawyers, information specialists, visionaries and all other professionals working within the legal services sector.

A summary of the tweets during the conference is available here and another blog post in English is available at, the team blog of the Swedish Law & Informatics Research Institute.


The conference day started with keynote speaker Richard Susskind who is considered one of the gurus of legal technology and the future of legal services. Susskind started off by mentioning the example of Black & Decker who are not in the business of selling drills but in the business of selling holes because this is what their clients want. Comparably, clients of lawyers want to avoid problems rather than solve them. “A fence at the top of a cliff, not an ambulance at the bottom”. (see also Twitter) Clients do not want dispute resolution, they want dispute avoidance. They do not want legal solutions but legal risk management. Unfortunately, however, law firms and the legal industry have focused on making the ambulance more powerful instead of better securing the cliff.

Speaking about automation vs innovation, Susskind commented on the automation approach which applies technology on pre-existing manual processes thereby making them quicker. Automation is, however, not equal to innovation, which is what is really needed in the legal market. Innovation means to use IT in order to do things that previously had not been possible, not to automate existing manual processes.

Susskind emphasised that clients want “more for less”. In order to achieve this, law firms have two possibilities:

  • efficiency strategy (cutting costs, moving along the path towards commoditisation, multi-sourcing)
  • collaboration strategy (sharing costs, harnessing the collaborative power of IT, online community)

Efficiency Strategy

  1. As the costs of lawyering itself is too expensive, the question is raised how to cut them. Large layers of work are repetitive and involve mostly administration. Clients are willing to pay for genuine expertise, but not for low-end tasks.
  2. Commoditisation involves moving from bespoke legal service models to standardised, systematised, packaged and eventualy commoditised work. Bespoke work reminds of tailor made suits. This is the way legal services are done today. The bespoke model is conveyed both in legal education and in the media and involves crafting a legal solution for a specific client. Interestingly enough, clients chose law firms because they have done similar work before. Standardisation is commonly used today, and clients want access to electronic forms that the lawyers themselves are using. This can lead to packaging of legal knowledge. Eventually, clients want to move towards commoditisation, as the prices go down, become more certain, and quality often goes up (250 people’s common knowledge will almost always outperform bespoke expertise of single lawyer).
  3. Multi-sourcing involves relieving lawyers from certain tasks in different ways. Possible forms include in-sourcing, de-lawyering, relocating, off-shoring (example: British Telecom), outsourcing (Rio Tinto outsourced to CPA Global, see also Susskind’s interview with Lea Cooper), sub-contracting, co-sourcing, near-shoring (example: Allen Overy near-shored to Northern Ireland), leasing (example: Axiom and Voxius), home-sourcing (Lawyers on demand from Berwin Leighton Paisner), open-sourcing, crowd-sourcing, computerising, no-sourcing (from a risk point of view it does not have to be done it at all).

Recommending Ray Kurzweil’s book The singularity is near, Susskind emphasised lawyers’ hesitation to adapt emerging technology. He mentioned a few examples where technology has or can be used to improve or innovate legal services:

Referring to Clayton M Christensen’s book The Innovator’s Dilemma –
When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail
, Susskind identified 10 disruptive technologies which include:

  • closed client communities (clients come together, even if lawyers don’t)
  • online dispute resolution
  • automated drafting
  • electronic legal marketplace: auctions for legal services

Closing off, Susskind suggested four models for the future legal business:

  • target model: expert trusted adviser, enhanced practitioner, routine worker
  • doughnut model: expert trusted adviser, enhanced practitioner, outsourcing of other stuff
  • glazed doughnut model: expert trusted adviser, enhanced practitioner, and process manager (legal process analysis: taking apart a legal process and looking at it, decomposition and identification are the best way to multi-source.)
  • cog model: expert trusted adviser, enhanced practitioner, process manager, routine worker

Panel discussion

The keynote was followed by a panel discussion which included Anne Ramberg, Secretary General of the Swedish Bar Association, Joakim Edoff, CEO and Executive Partner at Setterwalls, Stefan Erhag, Executive Partner at Delphi, Björn Kristiansson, Partner at Hannes Snellman Attorneys, moderated by Christer Danielsson.

KM’s role in new business models

After lunch, Chris Bull, Partner at Edge International, spoke about emerging business models in the legal sector.

Emerging B2C business models

  • branded chains, e.g. Quality Solicitors
  • comparison websites, e.g. CompareLegalCosts
  • service websites, e.g. RocketLawyer
  • retail: The recently enacted Tesco Law allows private companies such as Tesco, and other retail and banking companies, to set up their own legal services. These organisations have had experience in the online market for the past years, have offered financial services and learned from their mistakes. In addition, they carry a large amount of trust from their customers already which could be an incentive for the latter to choose a retail company over a law firm.
  • legal insurance, e.g. DAS (German insurance company)
  • niche specialists, such as Maurice Turnor Gardner

Emerging B2B business model

  • multi-disciplinary firms, e.g. PWC
  • consolidators, e.g. Greenberg Traurig
  • managed legal, e.g. BLP/Thames Water; large cooperations handing their in-house legal work to law firms.
  • outsourcing (LPO), e.g. (Rio Tinto/ CPA Global
  • Mexican Wave, e.g. Freshfields outsources smaller cases to a TLT in Cardiff; other law firms create hubs where cases are distributed according to difficulty or size, e.g. smaller errands are referred to smaller local law firms, while larger cases are referred to the law firms in the city.
  • Niche specialists, e.g. Kemp Little
  • Virtual Firms, e.g. Axiom, Keystone ; represent a massive untapped source of talent that do not want to work at big law firms.
  • Alliances, e.g. Lex Mundi, law firms that want to stay independent

Chris Bull underlined that KM is not longer “nice to have”, but it starts becoming “must have”. He concluded his presentation by defining 5 knowledge priorities:

5 Knowledge priorities

1 analyse and document workflow and process

Law firms should agree to new ways of working with their key clients. Work can be transferred to a 3rd party and remote or virtual workers should be enabled. Firms can also share best practices with alliance partners and/or maximise benefits through mergers or acquisition.

2 convert know-how into product

Law firms compete with online “Do It Yourself” providers. Therefore they have to deliver value-added service to key clients. A 24 / 7 / 365 service should be provided to clients.

3 develop true thought leadership in your specialism

Law firms have to compete as leading specialists. They have to convince their clients of that, however, and market their expertise. Other measures include supporting technical training and feeding the on-line information “beast”.

4 leverage client knowledge to create value (what do we know about client?)

Law firms should tailor packages to retain key clients, and create attractive and ‘sticky’ on-line channels. There is also a lot of unlocked value in CRM contact data which could be analysed more and not just used as a contact information database.

5 seamless collaboration

Law firms should provide their clients with access and flexibility, emphasise “know who” via social media and video, and share client information with firms and collaborators.

Client perspective on KM

Martin Salomon, Regi, spoke about the survey Swedish Law Firm of the Year that his company conducted in cooperation with the Swedish In-house Counsel Association (Bolagsjuristernas förening/BJF). According to the survey, clients are asking for more proactivity, alternative fee arrangements and follow-ups. Apparently only 37 % of law firms perform regular follow-ups at the moment.

Law firms and social media

Rob Ameerun, Legal IT consultant and founder of Legal IT Professionals, spoke about how law firms could best benefit from social media. He started by showing a YouTube video on the Social Media Revolution 2011.

Though many law firms claim that every hour they use on social media they cannot use on clients, they forget that they could get more business from it. Potential clients search on Google and find the law firm’s LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook account.

When it comes to blogging, it is important that law firms invite comments on their blogs and also comment regularly on other blogs and build networks. Ameerun mentioned a Fellsoft Study that investigated the LinkedIn usage of large law firms in the UK and USA.

The success of law firms on social media can be easily measured by the number of followers, the statistics of their blog, and third party tools such as Klout.

Constant change and innovation

Mikael Arborelius, Engagement Manager at Acando, spoke on how to improve information management and design solutions in areas where change is constant and innovation difficult, but necessary.

In order to cope with change it is important to


Arborelius suggested to create a storehouse of rejected ideas & concepts and revisit it regularly. This can be done by using light weight tools, such as Yammer.


Visualisation, such as Google Analytics, allows companies to find out what they know about a subject and what people have looked at most.

be agile

Slicing the elephant is the most effective way to cope with change. Small parts and simple are the leading words here. One should use simple tools dedicated for the task and measure so one can improve.

Using your business data to drive change

Björn Immerstrand, Key Account Manager at Millnet BI, spoke on how understanding, communicating and using business data operatively can drive change. By collecting and analysing facts, human resources in a law firm can be used and distributed more efficiently. Business intelligence can help in order to better understand the data, e.g. who is working in which areas of law.

Interestingly enough, facts in a legal context can be misunderstood, in my opinion. Though data about expertise areas and time actual spent on cases is an important and sometimes maybe overseen factor in managing law firms, use of legal knowledge should not be forgotten either.

The digital associate

Helena Hallgarn and Ann Björk, founders of Virtual Intelligence VQ and VQ Legal, closed the conference by giving some examples of future legal services:

Hallgarn and Björk suggested a new profession for creating intelligent legal document solutions – the Legal Knowledge Engineer.

Own comments

Though lawyers and law firms have generally been considered conservative, the economic and financial situation today will lead to more changes within the legal business sector. The solutions not only lie within technology but even more in innovation in legal education and workflow of lawyers.

Swedish legal information providers have started launching apps for iPhone and iPad, e.g. InfoTorg, Norstedts. This is just the beginning of innovation not only from a technological perspective but even more from a user-focused approach.

If you have any examples of Swedish online legal services or legal cloud services, please leave a comment below or e-mail me at

VQ Knowledge and Strategy Forum Legal – 11-12 November 2010

11 November 2010

Annette Magnusson, Secretary General of the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, opened the conference in her role as the chair for the day.

She described that there is an unprecedented level of interconnection and interdependency (referring to a survey by IBM on capitalising on complexity). According to a recent book by Thomas L. Friedman, “the world is flat” and needs creativity and innovation.

Magnusson explained how modern business is a business of intangibles. In the U.S., e.g., around 85 % of all businesses concern intangibles such as human capital, social media, IP, new knowledge. We are not living in a service economy anymore, but an experience economy. In the i-cubed economy, creativity is important for innovation. If experience is the important factor, it is not relevant what we do but how we do it. The “how” factor is becoming more important, e.g. soft issues such as leadership, personal interaction. The what is easy to copy, the how, on the other side, is not easy to copy.

Magnusson saw a strong trend of harmonisation. For example the rules of arbitration are being harmonised increasingly on a global basis. What will be different is how the rules are applied.


Nick Jarrett-Kerr, management consultant and leading international strategy adviser to law firms, talked about gripping current trends and competitive pressures and changing the traditional business model. He identified 10 current trends in the legal market:

  1. global economy (economy as corrugated or flat)
  2. trend towards global law firm consolidation (global rather than local)
  3. pricing pressures are still growing (KM can provide a solution)
  4. clients getting more demanding
  5. scale (and branding) is becoming an issue (you need to become a rather large law firm in order to be able to invest in the things you need to invest in (knowledge process outsourcing). Many law firms are struggling with the question of how they can afford the infrastructures they need in order to become competitive. Law firms then join in consortiums and share KM resources.
  6. quantity of partner level is decreasing
  7. increasing financial pressure to law firms
  8. getting traditional lawyers to change is not easy
  9. Existing market positions and client bases are being challenged
  10. outsourcing of legal work by in-house law departments

Law is still a fragmented profession, which is why the rule of three (the dominant player in a consolidated market has 40 % market share, the second one half, i.e. 20 % and the third half of that, i.e. 10 %) does not apply.


Caroline Malm, Senior Consultant, Gartner, spoke about knowledge management trends and the evolution hype cycle. She emphasised the created value of socialised knowledge management. Gartner defines KM as a formal program to manage an organisation’s intellectual assets. IT usually only amounts to 20 % in knowledge management efforts, while the rest (80 %) covers management incentives, culture, and communication. A challenge with embedded knowledge is that when it is moved into a database, the context may disappear.

Malm mentioned the concept of information balance, consisting of knowledge demand and knowledge supply. The consumption patterns have changed: people cut and paste pieces of different sources, before they were searching for one document.

In order to create business value one cannot stay at the base and focus on finding existing knowledge within the organisation (non-complex information), but has to add a next level of best practices (using knowledge of colleagues).

Socialised KM is more about people than information. On the demand side it focuses on

  • co-creation (knowledge is created together)
  • sharing instead of push-technique (sending information to one’s colleagues)
  • search (instead of searching only within internal knowledge repository, multiple sources are now utilised)

On the supply side, socialise KM focuses on

  • storage (links instead of storage)
  • categorisation and organisation (instead of taxonomies and ontologies, tagging, bookmarking, rating, usage are applied. instead of meta-tags, now entire content is searched)
  • validation: instead of amount of information stored, it is now important how information can improve the business (user-defined)

Malm identified as critical success factors: culture, learning from earlier KM experiences and remembering embedded knowledge and utilising collaboration tools.


Janet Day, Director Technology and Infrastructure Services, Berwin Leighton Paisner, spoke about competing by innovative use of IT and by using IT both as a way of delivering more efficient work and for more innovative ways to support the client. She showed two examples where clients and law firms worked together in order to create a new form of collaboration. One example included Knowledge Share where the collection of data concerning real estate transactions was also shared with the clients in question, the other example concerned Thames Water and its outsourcing of legal services to BLP. Knowledge Share supports the view that the same information can be used in different contexts and thereby become even more valuable. Day compared it to a rubik’s cube that can be looked upon in different colours from different angles.

Day shared her experience from the law firm and said that lawyers know what they want to get to, but they do not necessarily know what they can achieve. She also mentioned that it is becoming more important to refine information in context; the Google approach is not working anymore.


In her comments, chair Annette Magnusson quoted Eric Shinseki, former Army Chief of Staff, who said “If you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even more.”


After lunch, Lisa Göransson, Head of Nordic Desk, Allen & Overy, spoke about cost efficient legal services. She emphasised the importance of knowing your client’s business and working in partnership with her or him. 80 % of legal work does not require any legal training.

The overload by e-mail increases the challenges for knowledge management. Communication protocols that have developed also add to the challenges. What does it mean, e.g., when i am cc’ed in an e-mail, do i have to read the documents and comment?

Göransson quoted John F. Kennedy who said “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” She closed by adding “what better way not to miss the future than actually creating it”.


Juliet Humphries, Head of Knowledge & Learning, Bird & Bird, then spoke about the development of KM. She started by describing the birth of KM, up to early 1980s, which resembled “the unrealised knowledge organisation“. Lawyers were trusted advisers, they did not see themselves as business. Knowledge sharing was informal, which is easier with less partners. The focus was more on what law means and not what law means for a particular client in a particular situation and KM was more about libraries. Up to the early 1980s it was more about legal bulletins and a focus on understanding of the law, not so much on the application of law (which became more important later). In this stage 1, as Humphries calls it, law firms are knowledge businesses.

From 1985-2000 knowledge was seen as a competitive asset. In this KM child phase, the slogan could be “a lot of shiny toys”. KM became more important, as business and the legal world became more complex, and law firms expanded geographically. In a sense, KM emerged as a new discipline during this area, and focused very much on the question what is knowledge (1995) and the debate between tacit vs explicit knowledge (1995/96). In 1995 most discussions concerned the definitions of data-information-knowledge, to reach wisdom. In this stage 2, the focus was on law and practice of law (what do you need to know?).

As a teenager, KM was “looking for direction”. The 2000+ were about embedding knowledge. Business continued to grow geographically and in complexity, KM aligned itself to the business, and the client was becoming more important. This stage 3 shifted the focus on business strategy. While stage 4 focused more on the clients and the

In stage 5 learning was emphasised. The question concerned how to use information. As an adult, KM reaches a mature model. Law firms go back into being knowledge businesses.

According to Humphries, the future challenges for legal KM include

  • What will a knowledge function look like in the future?
  • How will KM be aligned within a firm’s organisational structure? (Learning is often within the HR department. Should it be moved to KM?)
  • scope of outsourcing


David Fitch, Director of Knowledge Management, Simmons & Simmons, spoke about why knowledge management is not information technology, but how IT is an essential enabler of any knowledge program. He explained how information specialists can filter different RSS feeds and publish the filtered posts on an internal blog which then lawyers can subscribe to via RSS. Fitch described the intranet as a place for doing things instead of static content.

When it comes to automated drafting (deal builder), it is important to focus on key points of agreement (purchaser, seller friendly) instead of asking to many detailed questions. The key to make search work is meta data included in the documents. Meta data very important to increase search efficiency. When his law firm added a search engine on the KM system, they noticed that 80 % of documents had general as keyword.

Simmons & Simmons are publishing podcasts where lawyers are informing about latest development in a certain field. 2 people are employed full-time for these podcasts and a former director for BBC documentaries is in charge of filming.


Rowena Stent, Professional Support Lawyer, BAE Systems, shared her experiences on differences in KM work, roles and organisation between private practice and in- house.


Chair Annette Magnusson, closed day 1 of the conference by talking about the need for the legal profession to address the changes in economy. Magnusson quoted Gillian K. Hadfield: “Where are the ‘garage guys’ in law? Locked in the garage.”


12 November 2010

Day 2 started by Helena Hallgarn and Ann Björk, founders of VQ, explaining some of the challenges to the legal profession. Lawyers might ask why they should change a winning concept. The answer is in order to think about the world surrounding us. This world is changing and lawyers have to react to that. The challenges ahead concern changes in billing for lawyers (away from hourly payment), the conditions of available information and the internet, and the development of case management processes. With regards to the increasing amount of information, maybe lawyers are not the best in searching and this task could be outsourced to information specialists.


Carl-Henrik Lange, coach for leadership, information and communication, spoke about new business models for law firms and the courage for change. He talked about the importance to reflect about things we do not see and why we do certain things. Change can be found in these areas as well. In order to change something, it is important to go through the three steps: know – do – be.

Management by telepathy usually not very successful, communication is more than information. 75 % of communication consists of the body, the rest of the voice and the tone. Only 10 % of communication and the question of trust consists of the words being used.


Jenny Axäll, communications consultant, JG Communication, shared her ideas on KM and emphasised the importance of employees spending their time with the right things. Meetings should be used to handle complex and changeable things. Other communication channels can be used to transfer easy and recurring information. Understanding and engagement by employees are connected and can contribute to use working hours for the right tasks.


Magnus Sundqvist, Nordic Knowledge Leader, Ernst & Young, shared his experience from working with KM at Ernst & Young and the challenges of a multinational company. KM in his firm very much focuses around the clients and to provide them with new knowledge and pro-active solutions in their area of business.


After lunch, Reidar Gjersvik, Knowledge Manager, Thommessen, spoke about innovation and KM. Gjersvik spoke about the importance of everyday innovation and shared his experience from the project He agreed with previous speakers that KM is 80 % social, and 20 % technique.

Gjersvik emphasised the importance of collective creativity as the basis for innovation and mentioned 7 generic drivers that have been identified by now:

  1. zoom out and in in order to get an overview
  2. rapid prototyping (testing ideas quickly, build models and discuss them afterwards)
  3. generative resistance  (research shows that many ideas are good ideas), peer assist and peer resist
  4. liberating laughter (a good working atmosphere is very important in the creative process)
  5. craving wonder
  6. getting physical
  7. Fuelling the fire: courage (to be accepted for taking risks even if they did not succeed)

Gjersvik underlined the principle “slow train coming”, creativity is not always sudden, but generates slowly.


Helena Hallgarn and Ann Björk, VQ, then spoke about KM as a support law firms. They agreed with previous speakers that the same information can be used in different contexts. Hallgarn and Björk mentioned Allen & Overy who outsourced standard documents to another company (PLS) which keeps them updated but is also allowed to sell the information to others. One way to be innovative is to use the information and sources that exist already.

Hallgarn and Björk presented their new service VQ Legal which allows to submit documents to Bolagsverket (Swedish Companies Registration Office).

Innovation is not about doing the same thing in a different way, but to do different things. Henry Ford did not invent faster horses but changed the idea of transportation. The iPhone changed the way people consider mobile phones. New mindsets are required in order to be innovative within legal KM as well.


Then Christine Kirchberger, Swedish Law & Informatics Research Institute, discussed new KM roles. She emphasised the changes in information retrieval, use of information and collaboration that the legal community faces. Google’s simplicity and the tendency towards simple search fields hide the amount of information behind the interface. Today’s legal eduction unfortunately does not always reflect the increasing need of retrieval and organisational skills. Neither are students trained in meta-data nor structuring of legal information. Collaboration is increasingly important for lawyers; the extent to which information from social networks, blogs and Twitter can be used as legal sources remains to be seen. Communication relies more on text these days, allowing for future re-use.

Kirchberger suggested an Information Retrieval (IR) model 2.3 where information is not purely seen as documents but rather as data units that allow different ways of combining and structuring. The new service VQ Legal and automated contract builders are good examples of this. In addition, other ways of presenting information can be utilised in order to improve knowledge management: word clouds, back-links and visualisation of legal information etc. In general, the doctrine of legal sources, retrieval technology as well as user behaviour have to overlap in order to achieve efficient KM. Experiences from e-government and research efforts within legal IR and KM could also contribute to innovation in legal KM.


Hanna Munter, Knowledge Manager, Bird & Bird, presented how the Stockholm office of Bird & Bird are working with KM. Focus is very much put on learning and knowledge. Munter mentioned that extent external sources should be used in some occasions instead of building up and maintaining internal KM tools, e.g. Wikis. Internal online discussions on specific legal matters relating to a client are easier to encourage than general discussions on a subject.


Thank you, VQ and all the speakers and delegates for two very inspiring and interesting conference days!



10th International “Law via the Internet” Conference, Durban, South Africa, 26 – 27 November 2009 – Day 2

Day two at the The 10th International “Law via the Internet” Conference, started with a Keynote Address by Graham Greenleaf, Co-Director of the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII).

Greenleaf outlined eight strategies that can support the aims of the Free Access to Law Movement which include maximizing free access, assisting local organisations and an implied goal of high quality. Among the eight strategies he mentioned were encouragement of all Legal Information Institutes (also small ones), the essential right of republication of governmental works (especially in maintaining workflows), broadening of LII content, publishing legal scholarship and the importance of subject-specific libraries.

Greenleaf emphasised also the importance for LIIs to maximise collaborations with both government and commercial publishers. Maximising LII globalism is also an important strategy as user demands on global research grow. He noted that Google Lawyer will never be free, but only ‘free-ish’, as it ultimately will follow the money.

In concluding Greenleaf stressed the importance of expanding the Free Access to Law Movement (FALM) network even more, after 7 years already 32 members have joined the movement.

Friday, 27 November, morning sessions

Then the first session on Policy and Legal Considerations and Free Access was chaired by Graham Greenleaf.

Andrew Rens spoke about Copyright and Free Access to Law and especially about pwning law (owning law). Rens started by explaining three different justificatory theories on copyright, namely the labour theory by Locke, the personality theory by Hegel and the utilitarian theory by Posner.

After applying Locke’s theory on the question of copyright for law, Rens talked about Hegel and his integrity and profit argument. Then he moved on to Posner’s utilitarian theory, which still prevails in Anglo-American tradition.

Posner divides between two set of costs; namely the (fixed) costs of creating a work and the costs for distributing it (varying how many copies are distributed). When it comes to pricing a work, one wants to recover both types of costs, the fixed costs of creating and the varying costs of distribution. For the person copying, however, only the costs for distribution are of interest, so the author might not want to publish her work if the costs of creating will not be recovered.

When applying Posner’s utilitarian theory to copyright in law, the following is of interest:

  • there are other incentives for “supply” of law, i.e. the government does not need incentives for creating law
  • cost of expression in law is the democratic process
  • there are no substitutes for laws
  • there is no competitive market for laws, as they stem from a public process

So according to Andrew Rens there is no copyright justification for copyright of law, especially as there is a cost recovery and the fear of distortion might not be justified (the assumption that people would copy and change law if they could lacks argumentation). Also the unspecified need for control is not very convincing.

Rens also mentioned the principle nulle legum sine crimen, no law without a crime.

Answering a question from the audience, Andrew Rens said that even judgements should not be copyright-protected as they are a result of a collective public process, not a private creation.

Mark Heyink spoke about Privacy and Security Considerations in Access to Case-Law. In his opinion lawyers are knowledge workers, and therefore depend on accuracy of information that underpins this knowledge.

Professor David Taylor, University of South Africa (UNISA) spoke about Privacy, Freedom of Expression and the online publication of court cases. He used the example of a South African case by the South African Constitutional Court, deciding on the constitutionality of Section 12 in a law forbidding the publication of details of divorce cases. (Case Johncom Media Investments Limited v M and Others (CCT 08/08) [2009] ZACC 5; 2009 (4) SA 7 (CC) (17 March 2009) available at SAFLII

The main question was on the balance between privacy and freedom of expression. Taylor emphasised, that one should be aware of the risks when publishing increasingly more legal information on the Internet.

David Taylor also warned that an improved access to judgements might lead to judges facing more and more different arguments from different cases, and therefore the value of case law will decrease and common law countries will move towards a civil law tradition.

Daniela Tiscornia, ITTIG-CNR, spoke about Free Access to Legal Information Services through the Commercial Exploitation of Public Sector Information (PSI): A New Challenge for African Countries from the European Experience.

She focused on the EU Directive on 2003/98 on re-use of public sector information (PSI Directive)

Public sector information (PSI) comprises different types of information, not only legislation, but also data from public registers, maps, geographical information, etc. The MEPSIR Sudy from 2006 investigated the implementation of the PSI Directive in the EU member states.

Besides economic and technical barriers, e.g. the lack of simple standard licenses, there are also legal barriers for the effective implementation of the PSI Directive:

  • exclusive deals for the re-use of information
  • problem of intellectual property rights
  • public bodies’ reluctance to allow private operators to re-use PSI as this might jeopardise their revenue created by their own data

The framework conditions include availability, accessibility, transparency, accountability and non-discrimination.

There are two economic models of PSI policies:

  • open access (such as in US): PSI is sold at no more than the cost of search and duplication. Due to higher sales of PSI based products the indirect tax revenues increase, thereby increasing the revenue in total for the government.
  • cost recovery (government commercialisation), which is more typical European: the goal is to also recover the costs of producing PSI without opening data to private operators

The MEPSIR study highlighted that legal information (together with geographical data) has the highest economic value.

Daniela Tiscornia emphasised that higher indirect tax revenues from sales of PSI based products by professional stakeholders will allow public bodies to recover costs for producing and distributing basic legal content to citizens.

Daniel Poulin, LexUM Project Director, spoke about Online legal information and the requirements for official status of legal documents, his presentation being titled Accessibility and trustworthiness.

He pinpointed the needs of

  • accessibility (cost effectiveness)
  • legal security (completeness of information)
  • – trustworthy sources of law
    – validated or easy to validate documents

It is important to provide ways for users to validate what they can find in the system.

The needs of accessibility and legal security lead to the following requirements:

  • public ownership of the law (importance of final and correct version of decisions in the public domain. the version released by court must be official version)
  • non-proprietary ways to cite decisions (neutral citation)
  • policies and resources for long term preservation
  • free public sources of legal information committed to quality

Traditional law reporting is typically:

  • carefully prepared with index, abstract and more
  • very selective (which limits the size of case-law over years, which can be good, but means less material to look at when doing research)
  • trustworthy and respected
  • when official could even define what could be cited

Daniel Poulin asked the question if traditional reporting is essential today and if we could we do without it.

In Canada unreported decisions are widely available, citable and generally deemed trustworthy.

Some authors, as Catherine Best (Law via the Internet Conference 2007), identify a proliferation problem. There are too many cases, which is burden for courts, lawyers, etc. With an abundance of case-law lawyers are just overwhelmed by it which might change the nature of case law. However, users seem to be more concerned by “comprehensiveness”.

Daniel Poulin then pinpointed what is needed in free access to law:

  1. public ownership (goal 1)
  2. legal security (goal 2)
  3. accessiblity (goal 3)

Concerning goal 1 he suggested

  • to work with courts to provide and prepare final and correct version of decisions
  • establishing a public standard to cite all decisions – neutral citation (a project that started in 1997, where the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC ( recommended adopting rules requiring the use of neutral citation, aiming at locking the system under the public nature of case, instead of official reports which would create a market for someone to exploit
  • ensuring preservation

Goal 2, legal security can be ensured by:

  • high publishing standards (accuracy of metadata, integrity of files, comprehensiveness of databases) and precision of the finding aids
  • continuity of service and sustainability
  • validation (pdf of source image can help)

For free access to law operators it is important to

  • establish a reputation for quality (define your own quality goals and check them)
  • establish the right processes (mobilize data providers, check against other sources where possible, add what is missing)
  • create quality markers (“gold databases”)
  • match law report quality even if we are not adding any other value

Friday, 27 November, afternoon sessions

Olivier Charbonneau, Concordia University, spoke about How can Web 2.0 technologies help us understand the law? His notes and paper will be available at

In the last session in the afternoon, Amavi Tagodoe suggested What about an AfriLII? The need for an African global strategy of Legal Information diffusion using Internet and IT? He showed examples of legal information web sites in Africa and proposed that the existing African national LIIs could be connected into an AfriLII with a decentralised approach, e.g. portal, sharing best practices, etc. Tagodoe also suggested a logo for AfriLII.

Tererai Mafukidze, Southern African Legal Information Institute (SAFLII) ended the session speaking about Strategies for Establishing National LIIs in Africa. He started by saying that what you need is an idea, people and some money to start.

Friday, 27 November, closing address

The closing address was excellently done by Justice Kate O’Regan. She spoke of the time when she was a judge at the South African Constitutional Court. Then, it was a must for the judges to look at international law. At the same time it was difficult to find jurisprudence from the own continent. When the Court started to look into means of making decisions available and moving into an IT environment, there were strong discussions on adding paragraph numbers to judgements, as this would facilitate searching in the judgement later as well. A manual was introduced to ensure uniformity of style between judgements.

Justice Kate O’Regan posed the question why access to law matters? The answer was that one cannot have rules of law without access to law.

She agreed to previous speakers that there might be a risk of overload, but she compared it to the risk of flood-gates, meaning that the risk is far more quoted than apparent. The system of precedent has been and still is very efficient, distillering out what is truly authoritative and persuasive.

O’Regan said that the interest in comparative law is high, though judges are not bound by this case-law. Often the reasoning cannot be applied directly to national cases as the legal system is different, but she often found guidance for interpretation in case law from abroad.

Justice O’Regan also posed the question why access to law should be free. Her answers were

  • the allocation of resources is a matter of power
  • free access enriches the understanding of democracy, as it facilitates and empowers public participation to ensure that
  • free access to law is one of building stones for civic participation in a broader democratic society

As challenges for the future O’Regan saw

  • question of sustainability (funding through partnerships with legal profession, commercial publishers, as well as governmental institutions)
  • protection of the integrity of information – quality of reporting (also comprehensiveness)
  • issue of privacy (most information in case law is private, which becomes, however, much more public if you can google somebody’s last name. Therefore appropriate in-house rules are important)

Answering questions from the audience Justice Kate O’Regan said that democracy presupposed informed citizens, so literacy is very important.

Thanks everybody at Southern African Legal Information Institute (SAFLII) for a great conference!

10th International “Law via the Internet” Conference, Durban, South Africa, 26 – 27 November 2009 – Day 1

The 10th International “Law via the Internet” Conference, was held in Durban, South Africa, 26 – 27 November 2009, hosted by Southern African Legal Information Institute (SAFLII)

The Law via the Internet Conference is an initiative of the Legal Information Institutes worldwide that constitute the Free Access to Law Movement. The principles of the Free Access to Law Movement are described in the Montreal Declaration on Free Access to Law.

The theme of the 10th “Law via the Internet” conference was Global Free Access to Law and Developing Countries: Impact, Challenges and Networks.

Thursday, 26 November, morning sessions

The keynote speaker pointed out that the number of visitors to Uganda’s law web site from abroad shows the important role that legal information institutes can play internationally.

The morning session started then on the topic of Free Access to Law initiatives in Africa and was chaired by Janine Miller, Executive Director of the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII)

Dié Lakhsara talked about Initiatives in West and Central Africa, especially the Congo Basin Region, Mali and Mauritania. Dié Lakhsara started by pointing out the causes for the limited access to laws which comprise:

  1. unorganised and bad shape of paper archives if they exist at all
  2. legal instruments have been destroyed (e.g. in Mali 1986 by a flood, in Congo 1991 due to political problems, in Niger the first computer was stolen in 2000 and no backups were available, in Mauritania a computer virus infected both the computers in 2001)
  3. many laws remain unpublished (intentionally or unintentionally)
  4. OG staffers do not exactly know what documents are available
  5. publishing is not done on regular basis, and a backup does not always exist
  6. poor capacity building of staff
  7. most OG institutions are neglected

This situation leads to the following consequences as it

  1. stifles economic growth and development
  2. hinders women’s emancipation and underprivileged classes participation
  3. creates confusion and/or ignorance of law

In a first step to create good governance, the following is necessary:

  • collecting texts
  • weeding out contradictions between different text
  • eliminating redundancies
  • delivering access to spars texts
  • facilitating comparisons
  • allowing free access to law

Dié Lakhsara mentioned the Forrest Law Enforcement and Governance Program (funded by World Bank).

The Global Legal Information Network (GLIN) is an attempt to establish good governance in African countries. The project is a joint venture with the Law Library of Congress and includes at the moment 35 countries from all around the world. From Africa Cameroon, the Democratic Rep. of Congo, Egypt, Gabon, Mali, Mauritania and Tunisia participate at the moment. Cameroon had to stop contributing laws, as legislation was not published, so it could not be added into GLIN.

When it comes to free access to law, sustainability is the most difficult task to deal with. GLIN helps ensuring just that.

In order for a country to participate in GLIN the following criteria have to be fulfilled, which turns out to be rather difficult sometimes, mainly due to lack of finances:

  1. Authenticity (official version of document)
  2. Sustainability (mostly financial)
  3. Low cost of maintenance
  4. Regular updating
  5. Free access to all

An increasing number of online visits to GLIN DR Congo and Gabon is proof of the usefulness of such a system.

A representative from the Republic of Congo spoke about initiatives in his country. Most interesting was that the government initialised an information campaign concerning their participation in the GLIN network and the availability of the site. Both pamphlets as well as TV spots were utilised to make citizens more aware of the possibility to access the law freely.

The speaker from Congo also underlined the importance of access to Congolese law not only for citizens, but also for foreign investors.

Then Gladys Boss Shollei spoke about Initiatives in East Africa, especially the Kenya Law Reports ( She mentioned the National Council for Law Reporting Act, 1995 and the establishment of the Secretariat in 2001. The Kenya Law Reports have gone from law reports to function as a legal information resource and moved beyond traditional law reporting.

The changes were largely driven by

  • changes in consumer needs
  • changes in roles and responsibilities of government departments
  • drive for corporate innovation
  • changes of technology

Some of these changes include

  • a bill tracker on
  • the digitalisation of the Kenya Law Gazette, which literally had been done by cut and paste (with scissors and tape) before
  • Bench Research Hotline: employees help in researching for legal documents which are then sent even to persons without an internet connection
  • Case Track Project: turning disorder into organised chaos and finally into order. Many cases took up to 15 years to be decided. Now cases can be registered and managed online.
  • benchmarking and knowledge transfer with other institutes from other countries, such as Botswana and Liberia
  • cooperation with governmental departments allows to improve law-making by taking advantage of Kenya Law Reports experiences

The challenge today is not only to publish legal information, but to achieve a sustainable process.

Tererai Mafukidze (SAFLII) spoke then on Initiatives in Southern Africa, especially The Southern African Legal Information Institute (SAFLII). SAFLII started as a co-operation between Wits Law School and AustLII in 2002 and expanded with the Constitutional Court Virtual Library Project in 2004 into its current shape.

Foreign investment in Southern Africa mainly focuses on commodity investment, so no direct benefits can be seen yet within the ICT sector. SAFLII filled the void of lack of transparency and made it possible to hold judges accountable.

With regards to the rule of law, access to law plays an important role. As former British colonies, many African countries inherited the British Secrecy Act with the principle of all governmental information being deemed secret until otherwise proven.

SAFLII allows access to law also in smaller African countries where it might not be economically feasible for larger commercial providers to invest in law publishing.

Interesting to note that the Department of Justice of South Africa is the biggest user of SAFLII without contributing anything financially to it.

Regarding publishing of court cases, due to the storage capacity of the Internet, SAFLII does not have to make a decision between reportable and non-reportable cases.

Courts in Africa do have computers nowadays but they are not necessarily networked. They are also afraid of sending pdf documents electronically as they fear that SAFLII will alter the documents. They are unaware of the fact that also pdf documents can be altered. There is no general register for delivering judgements in Southern Africa, quite often the judges decide on their own way. In addition, IT skills are still scarce in Africa.

The policy issues that have to be addressed include privacy (there is no uniformity yet), African iParliaments and a PSI Directive type of legislation.

Thursday, 26 November, afternoon sessions

In the afternoon, the session on Standards for Presentation of Legal Information was chaired by Daniel Poulin, LexUM Project Director at the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII).

Professor Peter W. Martin, Cornell Law School, spoke about Openness to third-party additions essential to meaningful public access. He also runs the website

Acccording to Peter Martin, the access barriers to law include:

  1. law’s specialised language and conceptual barriers
  2. confusion over which is the authoritative law making body for a specific question (national, regional, local)
  3. the general purpose of the information finding tools, such as Google, Bing, AltaVista, which makes them rarely lead you to the right site
  4. the incompleteness of online collections
  5. connecting decisions with earlier decisions
  6. the need to integrate output from two different branches of government

Editorial additions and commentary play a critical role in increasing access to law. There is a need for third party value-adders, e.g. Maine Equal Justice Partners (MEJP)

The features that would enable value-adders are:

  1. openness to search and linking
  2. enduring citation derived addresses (using algorithms based on standard form of neutral citations)
  3. openness to external search links
  4. version identification and retention (e.g.
  5. hospitable licensing term

The ways of encouraging value-adders include:

Then Fabio Vitali, Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Informazione, University of Bologna, spoke about the XML Modelling of Judgments with Akoma Ntoso. Akoma Ntoso means “linked hearts” in the language of the Akan people of West Africa and is a symbol of understanding and agreement. Akoma Ntoso is a set of common XML standards that allow to exchange and reuse parliamentary, legislative and judiciary documents more efficiently. It is an initiative of “Africa i-Parliament Action Plan“, a programme of UN/DESA.
The metadata included in the standard is descriptive (date of publication, nature of case, name of chancellor, etc), classfication (matter of the case, values out of domain-specific thesauri), lifecycle (history of document) and workflow (first order, appeal).

Akoma Ntoso also takes advantage of citations, semantic annotation and ontologies.

Professor Mario Ragona, Research director at ITTIG-CNR, presented A multilingual approach for promoting worldwide open access to law. He emphasised the importance of mapping thesauri in order to enable cross-language retrieval and mentioned the OPOCE Call for Expression of Interests regarding a multilingual thesauri.

Daniel Poulin commented on the focus on terminology of law and not language of law.

Caterina Lupo, CNIPA (National Centre for ICT in the Public Administrations), spoke about A proposal of a cross border legal documents identification scheme. There are several ongoing European and international initiatives on identification of legal sources, the goal is now to introduce a common open-standard to be able to connect these different legislations.

In this respect the international URN:LEX Scheme was suggested, which aims at providing a cross-collection and cross-country references. URN:LEX uses work, expression and manifestation for local-name scheme within the country tag. In its work level scheme URN:LEX uses authority, measure, detail and annex, and in the expression schema version (e.g. consolidated) and language. The manifestation schema then includes format, publisher, component and feature.

More information on

Thursday, 26 November, panel session

In the panel discussion on Open Access solutions for cross-disciplinary research, Robert Kirunda stressed the importance of finding a balance between the skills and access needs of a law student, an experienced law professor and a practitioner who has not much time. The new micro-generation uses Blackberry phones and rather read and write on Facebook than read the newspaper.

Tom Bruce, Director of Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School, then spoke about the proposal for a journal on legal information. Questions arising in this context include the possible target audience, functions, format, etc. One of the main benefits would, of course, be cross-fertilization.

Pompeu Casanovas,IDT – Institute of Law and Technology, continued speaking about the benefits of a journal. Especially visibility and increased transparency would be main advantages. Many researchers are investigating several topics but are not always aware of each other. The world is becoming more hybrid. Journals mostly reflect result of somebody’s work, but not the process. Casanovas also mentioned a project on new forms of publishing science.

Tom Bruce asked where researchers search for new information at the moment. It seems blogs are the place to go to. I mentioned the difficulty of using blogs in doctoral theses due to their acceptance as references. In conclusion I suggested initiating a mixture of journal, blog and social network in order to enhance visibility as Pompeu Casanovas suggested earlier.

Daniel Poulin, LexUM Project Director at the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) suggested a journal in line with First Monday. First Monday is being published every first Monday of the month, has broad focus on ICT, the Internet and social and legal impacts. There are no size limitations for contributions and the process is fast.

John Joergensen, Rutgers School of Law – Camden, emphasised the importance of a platform for articles in a specific niche such as legal informatics that might not fit into other legal journal publications.

Enrico Francesconi and Ginevra Peruginelli, Institute of Legal Information Theory and Techniques (ITTIG), had joined the discussion via Skype and shared the goal of building up an infrastructure for peer-reviewed ways to share knowledge.

A common consensus was the importance of not falling outside of credibility. The goal of a journal would be to share knowledge fast and reliable.