Wex: wikified law

Summary:If you haven't checked out Wex yet, you should.  It's a collaborative body of free legal information under the auspices of the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School.

If you haven't checked out Wex yet, you should.  It's a collaborative body of free legal information under the auspices of the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School.  I first saw it when Dennis Kennedy blogged it at Betweeen Lawyers, and when I had it come up in search results recently I was impressed with what I saw.

The ability to contribute articles is vetted as a quality control:

For the time being, the ability to make and edit contributions is loosely limited to a pool of invited author/editors, which you may join.

Wex recognizes the overlap with Wikipedia, and may offer up its information there at some point in the future, but has decided not to do so at the inception:

  1. Wikipedia is designed to be a fairly closed system -- tightly integrated and self-referential -- and it somewhat discourages the use of external linkage. There are many valid reasons for that approach, and if we were in a different field, we would probably find them compelling. However, much of what we intend here rests on illustrations from a wide range of legal information that it would be both burdensome and unnecessary to incorporate into WEX -- caselaw, statutes, and regulations used to illustrate and enhance the materials here. Thus, WEX is much more focussed on external linkage than Wikipedia.
  2. Wikipedia intentionally segregates content genres (see Wikipedia is not a dictionary and Wikipedia sister projects). We intend to deliberately blur the distinction between dictionary, encyclopedia, and guidebook in ways that Wikipedia would find troublesome.
  3. Wikipedia aspires to a global perspective (see Wikipedia: countering systemic bias.)  We write from an American law perspective.

Wex is shaping up as a fine legal resource, and its collaborative approach coupled with the LII's oversight may actually in the long run make it less prone to omissions and inaccuracies than costly commercial legal research services.  Here are its overviews of copyright, trademark, and patent, as well as its list of other subject matter.

[Updated September 9, 2006 @ 9:08 am:] Also topical, privacy.

Topics: Legal

About

Denise Howell is an appellate, intellectual property and technology lawyer who enjoys broad industry recognition for her expertise on the intersection of emerging technologies and law. For further details please see her professional background and speaking schedule. Denise's career is characterized by her passionate engagement in intell... Full Bio

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