Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Check out the newest legal search engine PreCYdent


Like parallel projects, Public.Resource.Org and AltLaw, newcomer PreCYdent aims to compile public-domain cases and statutes for free availability on the Web. "We believe judicial opinions and statutes must be in the public domain, in practice as well as in theory. To us this means that effective legal research in all of these materials should be free to the user -- not expensive, not inexpensive. Free." Officially, the alpha version contains only U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Court of Appeals cases so far, but it looks like the US Code is available, as well.

Search Engine

There are several things that make PreCYdent stand apart from the other projects, however. Foremost is its sophisticated, yet simple-to-use Google-esque search engine developed specifically with legal resources in mind. "PreCYdent search technology is able to mine the information latent in the "Web of Law", the network of citations among legal authorities. This means it is also able to retrieve legally relevant authorities, even if the search terms do not actually occur or occur frequently in the retrieved document."

Social Networking
Another stand out aspect is PreCYdent's incorporation of social networking tools, such as offering users the option to add tags and comments to documents, and to rate their importance. "Our objective is to create a space where people interested in law will be able to share knowledge, find help and to exchange experiences. We are going to integrate our effort with successful social communities such as Facebook. "

PreCYdent also contains law. Founder Tom Smith describes what you will find on the site in an interview with Law Librarian Blog "Currently our website has all US Supreme Court cases and US Court of Appeals cases back to the 1950s. We plan to soon have state cases going back 10 years or more from all 50 states, and ultimately all state and federal cases back to the beginning, as well as statutory and administrative materials."

(originally posted on