With little fanfare, Google announced that they will begin publishing “full text legal opinions from U.S. federal and state district, appellate and supreme courts” in Google Scholar.
While most of this information is already available at each individual court website, the aggregation of each opinion in one place is an important step at demystifying how our laws are created, changed, and enforced.
Equally important is the fact Google will be providing reporter citation for each case – making use of cases from their site more reliable and authoritative. They also appear to be listing any citing cases, allowing for users to determine whether the law is still good, or if it has been overturned.
And, as a lawyer, I can only think that this is bad news for companies like LexisNexis and Westlaw – both of whom charge an outrageous amount of money to access these case. While their fees were surely justified before the dawn of the modern internet, they can no longer be justified now.