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Holmes and Venables "Whither the Legal Web?"

Those interested in the world of legal publishing, whether by third party publishers or via new technologies such as blogging and RSS, may be interested in a new electronic publication called Whither the Legal Web?, a set of articles written and/or edited by UK based Nick Holmes and Delia VenablesWhither the Legal Web? consists of two parts, the first on Legal Information, the second (to published in or around September) on Legal Practice.

I have had the opportunity to review Part 1 and was interested in some of the articles it contains.  It contains 5 chapters on the following topics:  (1) The Law, (2) Government, Parliament and Justice, (3) Scotland and Wales, (4) Legal Information Services, and (5) The Web.  Each chapter contains a number of articles. 

To me, the most interesting chapters are 1 and 5, on The Law and The Web respectively (others will doubtless have their own "most interesting" chapters). Chapter 1 contains these articles:

  • "Towards more accessible law" by Nick Holmes 
  • "The vision for BAILII" by Sir Henry Brooke 
  • "Current developments on BAILII" by Joe Ury 
  • "Freeing the law in Ireland" by Dr John Mee 
  • "Global legal research: WorldLII and the long-term vision" by Prof Graham Greenleaf 
  • "The Statute Law Database" by Nick Holmes 
  • "EU law and the Europa site" by Sue Pettit 

Chapter 5 contains these articles:

  • "The core web technologies" by Nick Holmes 
  • "The blogging phenomenon" by Nick Holmes 
  • "A blogging case study: the IPKat" by Jeremy Phillips and Ilanah Simon
  • "Webfeeds: pulling the news that matters" by Nick Holmes
  • "Wikis: wacky or wonderful?" by Nick Holmes 

Those familiar with the world of legal publishing will be familiar with some of the content, but in all likelihood there is content with which readers will not be familiar.  For example, the chapter on BAILII (the British and Irish Legal Information Institute) by Sir Henry Brooke makes for an interesting read. And those wanting an introduction, from a legal perspective, to blogging, webfeeds and wikis will probably find the articles in chapter 5 a worthwhile read.  The 2 page case study on the blog "IPKat" is also interesting (those who follow the IPKat will know that its two authors are prolific bloggers). 

As an aside, the authors of the IPKat case study make the statement that "you can't make money out of blogging".  I wonder whether, at least in the future, such a statement may need to be qualified.  Were it not for the IPKat, I would not have heard of its lawyer authors.  In a competitive legal market, their names are now in my mind when otherwise they would not have been;  their blogging efforts have generated some mindshare, which I would have thought is itself a valuable commodity (generally speaking that is, not in respect of a share in my mind!), and one which ultimately could generate financial reward, either through direct instructions or referrals.  It's early days for such talk because the corporate world has not yet fully awoken to blogging and RSS feed technology;  let's see what happens when it does.

To close, Whither the Legal Web? contains a timely and interesting set of articles.  My thanks to Nick Holmes and Delia Venables for the opportunity to review it.


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