Free Access to the US Collection of Legal Cases

Harvard Law School announced that it is digitizing the entire collection of US legal materials through the help of Ravel Law a legal research and analytic platform. The United States happens to have the largest collection of legal cases all over the world and this collection will be available for free to anybody who has an internet connection.

This initiative called “Free the Law” will provide an open access to American case laws for the first time in the history of the United States so that people can have access to free legal information to achieve a more transparent and just legal system.

The collection of Harvard Law School includes 40,000 books with approximately 40 million pages of court decisions as well as original materials from cases that occurred earlier than the US Constitution. The Harvard Law School Library is considered as the largest academic library in the whole world and it has the most comprehensive authoritative database of American law with the exception of the Library of Congress that contains the binding judicial decisions from the federal government as well as each of the 50 states.

Harvard Law School Library has been collecting all judicial decisions for the past 200 years and when these materials are digitized, they will be accessible to nonprofits, academics, practitioners, researchers, law students and anyone who happens to own a smartphone or a computer with an internet connection. A researcher of legal material can search for data through Ravel’s platform. How can you sift quickly through millions of pages? Ravel provides researchers with data science, learning and visualization.

In the Harvard Library Innovation Lab which is a part of Harvard Law School Library, high speed imaging equipment that can handle half a million pages per week is used to scan the bound volumes. After scanning has been completed, text of each decision will be extracted into machine-readable files that will be made available to Ravel and Harvard and eventually, the public.

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