Google’s Foray into Web-based Legal Research

Google has been known to jump headlong into new web-based initiatives in search of the next big success.  Some do succeed (Google Maps = Super Cool) and some do not (“Orkut,” Google’s social networking site which has not quite established the brand recognition of myspace or facebook).

Now, Google has leapt into the world of computer-based legal research via a searchable case database on its Google Scholar site.  Here is an announcement from the Google Blog.

Will this free offering knock the fee-charging West and Lexis up against the ropes?  Not anytime soon.  A blurb in the ABA Journal points out that Google Scholar, while easy to use, does not include a statute/code database, and does not offer a case citator a la Shepard’s.

Nevertheless, and as with all of Google’s undertakings, this initiative is worth watching.  And it may prove a useful arrow in the quivers of public interest lawyers whose access to the fee-charging databases is limited.

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