In a response to the video posted on the Legal Currents blog (see previous post), Bob has further clarified the context of his comments, and elaborated on his position on the SLAW blog. Here are some highlights:
- When I referred to those who are devoted to making the law freely available to everyone as heroes, I meant it. My remarks were not intended to be dismissive. They were informal, unscripted and glib, but not dismissive. But I do not think that the free systems will challenge the proprietary ones in the United States as the centers of legal research for lawyers in the foreseeable future.
- Certain research sources become accepted as reliable. Professional researchers trust them. The users do not question them cricially, they just rely on them. Think of Shepards Citators in the old days or the amalgam of official print reports of judicial opinions and the National Reporter System in print that ruled in the latter part of the 20th Century.
- The day may come when the free systems will combine with sophisticated search engines and become that elusive “Tinkerbell” being granted status as an authority that is implicitly relied upon without question. But that day is not yet here. The free sites have value and I truly admire those who work to make them a reality.