T. R. Halvorson is a lawyer in sole practice in Sidney, MT, President of Pastel Programming Co., a division of Synoptic Text Information Services, Inc., and author of Law of the Super Searchers: the Online Secrets of Top Legal Researchers, How to Avoid Liability: The Information Professional's Guide to Negligence and Warranty Risks, and Legal Liability Problems in Cyberspace: Craters in the Information Highway.
Despite court rulings on June 19 that will halt Jurisline.com's use of case law and statute databases derived from the Lexis Law on Disc CD-ROMs, Lee Eichen and Ken Chow are planning to make their service "the little search engine that could." Jurisline.com issued a press release dated June 20, 2000 announcing its plan to stay online and continue offering case law and statute databases. According to the press release:
Jurisline will continue to offer fully searchable cases and statutes from an expanding number of jurisdictions, as well as full text searching on EDGAR filings, trademark searching, continuing legal education information, corporate forms, legal links and legal news.
Paragraph 3 of the Final Judgment entered in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York, sets the date for cessation of use of the Lexis data as July 6, 2000. As of this morning, the service is still online and the case law databases are still available.
I spoke with both Lee Eichen and Ken Chow by telephone this morning and asked about their plans. They said that following July 6 "there will be a transitional period in which, obviously, the scope of our databases will be different" as to the dates covered, "and then we will start to build coverage of earlier cases." During the transitional period, Jurisline.com will offer cases from publicly available sources such as state and federal court websites. Eichen and Chow said, "There are a number of options for obtaining cases from public sources. We are exploring the options, but have not made a decision yet about which option to use." Following the transitional period, again "there are a number of options for obtaining earlier cases and we are exploring the options."
Both Eichen and Chow were in good spirits and spoke in definite tones about their intention to endure for the long term. They said the lawsuits had been absorbing far too much of their time and that they settled the lawsuits so that they could return their focus and energies to building the service.
Eichen and Chow believe that even during the transitional period during which Jurisline.com will offer only the more recent cases available from public sources, the service will have value. They say Jurisline.com has concentrated on the way information is presented and the capabilities of its search engine. Though recent cases are publicly available at court and academic sites, they are scattered across the web, have widely varying formats, and have either no search engine or different and often weak search engines. Gathering the cases from scattered sources, rendering them searchable at one location through a single, powerful search engine, and displaying them in good form will have value even if the files only go back to the early nineties.
While case law and statute databases are important in Jurisline.com's service, Eichen and Chow emphasized that other parts of the service are also important and continue to offer value. "The EDGAR, trademark, legal news, continuing legal education and other information provided are important parts of what Jurisline.com is all about," they said.