Wednesday, April 22, 2015

More Crowdsourced Legal Research -- Mootus

A couple of weeks ago I discovered Casetext, a crowdsourced legal research website and wrote a blog post on the platform. The use of crowdsourcing, for what is normally a solitary pursuit, changes legal research into a more collective, collaborative process. Intriguing!

Mootus approaches the process very differently from Casetext, which uses crowdsourcing to enhance primary law with annotations, comments, and insights from members of the legal community, adding value to the raw legal materials.

So, how does Mootus differ?

Mootus does not promote itself as a legal research resource, but as a platform for open, online legal argument. Users find open issues, cite good law, add relevant law, and vote other cites as "on point" or "off base." Users earn reputation and status through high-quality cites, arguments, quality of \ answers, and votes. Mootus creates a personalized issue library for users based on the issues the individual argues, follows, and posts.

Isn't this how legal work is approached--around issues, which lawyers answer by citing to recognized authorities such as court decisions, statutes, or regulations? These issues are the basic building blocks of legal analysis. The same is true with Mootus. Everything that happens on Mootus revolves around legal issues. Users can add new issues or answer open issues, and build portfolios of their responses to issues.

Mootus is free, but also provides a basic or premium monthly subscription if users want to add more than one new issue. With a free subscription, however, you can answer and follow issues.

Mootus is not designed for providing crowdsourced legal advice! Instead the focus is on the way lawyers work, and is attempting to improve the quality and the efficiency of their work. Hats off to Mootus for spearheading this interesting collaboration among attorneys! They built it; now let's hope they come...

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