Annotate The Law!

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Here at the law library, we like to investigate new legal research tools that can help our faculty members and students. In fact, about six weeks ago we wrote about the Casetext platform on the Carolina Blawg and suggested that you try it out. Well, it just so happens that since then the folks at Casetext have introduced a new feature, called LegalPad, which aims to make writing about the law for a public audience more pleasant in a variety of ways. It is potentially a big step forward for academics and specialists looking to share their expertise, or for students to read up on current legal events and perhaps make contributions of their own.

LegalPad allows writers to pull up bookmarked cases from their research accounts and easily drop in quotes (with citations) or links in posts. And while LegalPad is not a blogging platform, per se, it does provide a place to share commentary publicly while also engaging with annotations made by other Casetext users. The site design is clear and uncluttered, with plenty of whitespace – perfect for reading online. In fact, I agree with those who have written that it reminds them of Medium.

Tamar Birckhead, associate professor of law and the director of clinical programs at Carolina Law, was among the first scholars to test out LegalPad. (It was only announced last Thursday, June 18!) In a post titled “Prisoners in Isolation,” she discusses the significance of Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy’s disapproval of solitary confinement in his concurrence in Davis v. Ayala. It is fascinating reading, and makes use of Casetext’s freely available full-text opinions. (For instance, see Davis v. Ayala as displayed on Casetext as opposed to the link above, which goes to the slip opinion published on the Supreme Court’s website.) We recommend you go read the post on your own, because our summary would not do it justice.

It isn’t necessary to create an account on Casetext to view or create posts on LegalPad, but doing so allows users to access other site features, join communities, and upvote LegalPad posts. You can also follow particular authors or keep up with areas of law that interest you. Perhaps you are curious about the recent California Labor Commission decision concerning the classification of Uber drivers for employment purposes? Well, there’s a LegalPad post on the topic already! Or maybe you’re doing research on copyright law this summer? Casetext allows you to follow that subject area.

All of these features are completely free for now, and will help keep you up to speed with new developments in the law.

Posted by Aaron S. Kirschenfeld on Mon. June 22, 2015 2:59 PM
Categories: Uncategorized

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