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News from Legislation.gov.uk, Bloomsbury Law and ICLR.

The legal professions, however unwillingly, and indeed the English legal system itself, are undergoing profound changes. Law reporting is bound to adapt.

The range and type of information which needs to be published is changing. The model of a carefully curated selection of momentous precedents – cases which marked out a path of stepping stones in the development of the law – though still valuable, is no longer enough in an age of online aggregation and Big Data analytics.

Lawyers and students need cases for a variety of reasons, not just to witness a change in law. And, in electronic form, the storage and retrieval of vast hoards of information is both easy and cheap. This obviates the need and to some extent the rationale for only selecting and preserving the most important cases.

But is there still merit in the idea of selection, or at any rate some sort of evaluation system for judgments? And how else can a publisher of legal information add value in the digital age?

“Headnotes reign supreme when it comes to digesting cases because they tell you what happened and what the result was. They give you the facts,” a London-based barrister said to me last year.

A true and succinct assessment – just like a headnote. In the digital age where there’s so much case law online and, in turn, so much that potentially needs to be read, a headnote is just what you need. Are they enough, though?

This is the second in our series on independent publishers providing law update services and their views on BAILII and legislation.gov.uk. In the last issue we covered CaseCheck, Law Brief Publishing and Daniel Barnett.

BAILII has been providing free access to case law for 14 years and legislation.gov.uk provides advanced (if not yet up to date) open access to all in force legislation. These resources have changed the ground rules for law publishing: smaller publishers are relying on them, adding their own value and developing new update services. We asked several independent publishers to describe their services and comment on the free primary sources.

In the ever-changing scene, including the impact of the internet and websites, as well as the relaxation of professional regulation on advertising, we have had to adapt continuously to a changing culture and to make use of new technologies to ensure that Havers Directory provides useful and effective means for barristers to make themselves known and accessible.

CaseCheck intends to compete with some of the largest publishers in the world, such as LexisNexis and Westlaw, with a new premium version early in 2013.

Cecile Park Publishing started in 1999 to provide global, authoritative and incisive legal and regulatory information solutions in fast growing business areas.. Our products and services have expanded to new areas including data protection, e-commerce, e-finance, sport and gambling law and we have grasped the opportunity to combine high value information with technological developments to deliver information efficiently via multiple platforms.

Over the last year, the Law Society has made increased use of digital media in order to expand and improve the service that it is able to offer to solicitors and other legal professionals via ebooks, online training and podcasts.

Having launched free legal content websites for Jordans, I can offer some advice for anyone thinking of embarking on a similar path for their organisation’s website. The advantages are increased traffic, search engine ranking and brand awareness.

It’s now seven years since we launched our first online services in law and we provide resources for three main markets: scholars, practitioners, and police and law enforcement agencies. At the moment we are in the development phase for the third generation of our research environment which we’ll roll out this year.

Information overload, especially in the form of too many emails, is a common issue for lawyers and those who support them. However, clients expect their adviser to know what issues are facing them and what is going on in their industry. And as to winning new clients, the inventive fee earner is on the lookout for that reason to give them a call.