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Adam Ziegler

  • Harvard’s Case Law Experiment

    November 7, 2018

    Harvard Law School is home to the world’s largest academic law library, with more than 42,000 volumes. So why not just put it all online for anyone to access?... But let me back up and explain how the database came to be, as described to me by Adam Ziegler, director of the Library Innovation Lab at Harvard. Library head Jonathan Zittrain first came up with the idea in 2013, and the lab established a partnership with legal research platform Ravel Law to get it off the ground...“At almost every level, what we were doing was the first time anyone had done it,” Ziegler told me.

  • Harvard Law Gives Public Free Access to Four Centuries of U.S. Court Cases

    November 1, 2018

    The Library Innovation Lab at Harvard Law School published a full collection of United States court cases dating from 1658 to 2018 on Monday as part of a years-long project to make case law more accessible. The initiative, dubbed the Caselaw Access Project, digitized more than 40 million pages of U.S. state, federal, and territorial case law documents from the Law School library. Though basic information for all cases in the database is now publicly accessible, users are limited to five hundred full case texts per day. Harvard affiliates currently have unlimited access to all case texts. Adam Ziegler, who directed the project, said his team worked on the Caselaw Access Project for more than six years. “It started with the simple observation that there was a real need for ready access to court opinions,” Ziegler said...Several Law School faculty members expressed their optimism about the project and its potential. Law School Professor I. Glenn Cohen called the project “a game changer,” and Law School Professor Christopher T. Bavitz said the initiative will bring about “enormous benefits” for teaching, research, and legal analysis.

  • Project Provides Access to All U.S. Case Law, Covering 360 Years

    October 30, 2018

    Launching today is the capstone to a massive project executed over the last three years to digitize all U.S. case law, some 6.4 million cases dating all the way back to 1658, a span of 360 years. The Caselaw Access Project site launching today makes all published U.S. court decisions freely available to the public in a consistent digitized format. The site is the product of a partnership started in 2015 between Harvard Law School’s Library Innovation Lab and legal research service Ravel Law to digitize Harvard’s entire collection of U.S. case law, which Harvard says it the most comprehensive and authoritative database of American law and cases available anywhere outside the Library of Congress...On Friday, I visited the Library Innovation Lab at Harvard Law School and met with Adam Ziegler, director, and Jack Cushman, senior developer, who have me a preview of the site.

  • Harvard Law Just Released 6.5 Million Court Decisions Online

    October 30, 2018

    In a significant milestone for public access to the law, the Library Innovation Lab at Harvard Law School on Monday published more than 40 million pages of U.S. court decisions online. The publication, which represents nearly 6.5 million state and federal court cases, is the culmination of a five-year project that saw Harvard slice the spines off a vast collection of legal reporter books in order to digitize them...According to Adam Ziegler, Director of the Library Innovation Lab, the library is also working with state governments to help them ensure all future decisions are published online in a machine-readable fashion with a neutral citation system. Ziegler also noted the Caselaw Access Project will be a treasure trove for legal scholars, especially those who employ big data techniques to parse the corpus. “It’s an opportunity to reconstruct the law as a data source, and write computer programs to peruse millions of cases,” he said.

  • Lawyer-Bots Are Shaking Up Jobs

    December 13, 2017

    Meticulous research, deep study of case law, and intricate argument-building—lawyers have used similar methods to ply their trade for hundreds of years. But they’d better watch out, because artificial intelligence is moving in on the field...Adam Ziegler, the managing director of the Harvard Law School Library Innovation Lab, wants to remove this barrier to entry. He has helped lead the CaseLaw Access Project, an effort to digitize the entire historical record of U.S. court opinions and make that data available for legal algorithms to read and train on. “I think there will be a lot more experimentation and the progress will accelerate,” Ziegler says about the impact of this project. “It’s really hard to build a smart interface if you can’t get to the basic data.”

  • Harvard Is Digitizing Nearly 40 Million Pages Of Case Law So You Can Access It Online And For Free

    August 30, 2016

    Not too long ago, a statement like this spoken in the hushed, hallowed hallways of the Harvard Law School library would have been considered heresy: "I think for court decisions, law books are becoming obsolete and even to some some degree a hindrance." That's Adam Ziegler, and he's no heretic. He's the managing director of the Library Innovation Lab at Harvard. Ziegler is leading a team of legal scholars and digital data workers in the lab's Caselaw Access Project. "We want the law, as expressed in court decisions, to be as widely distributed and as available as possible online to promote access to justice by means of access to legal information," Ziegler said. "But also to spur innovation, to drive new insights from the law that we've never been able to do when the law was relegated to paper."

  • As governments open access to data, law lags far behind

    March 18, 2016

    From municipalities to the White House, governments are launching open data projects—but the judicial branch is falling behind. Such was the opening, frustrated message of “Public Service Legal Technology in the Data.Gov Era,” a Thursday-morning panel at ABA Techshow. Adam Ziegler of Harvard Law School’s Library Innovation Lab hammered home the message with a quick tour of government data projects. The federal government has, a website that offers publicly available data on many topics related to executive branch agencies; 18F: a series of projects from the General Services Administration; and the U.S. Digital Service, a White House project seeking to streamline government services. The White House even has a page on GitHub, a website that allows programmers to post and collaborate on their work. “We are in an era of amazing progress in access to government data,” said Ziegler, a programmer and former attorney. But “where are we with the law? Almost nowhere, unfortunately.” The nonprofit U.S. Open Data assessed publicly accessible legal information in every state—and found poor accessibility almost everywhere. Ziegler’s lab is doing its best to change that with its ambitious “Free the Law” project with Ravel Law, which will scan Harvard’s entire 40,000-volume collection of U.S. case law.

  • Robots and Lawyers: Why Can’t We Just Be Friends?

    February 3, 2016

    An op-ed by Adam Ziegler. Google “robots and lawyers.” What do you get? The first few pages of my results are about 80% predictions of lawyers’ demise, 10% claims of lawyers’ supremacy and 10% ads by lawyers seeking clients maimed by robots. A welcome new addition to these results is “Can Robots Be Lawyers? Computers, Lawyers and the Practice of Law,” by UNC law professor Dana Remus and MIT professor Frank Levy. The authors demonstrate that their question — “Can robots be lawyers?” — is a complicated one that deserves less hyperbole, a deeper understanding of tech and greater respect for the professionalism of lawyers. Their piece is the most thoughtful analysis I’ve seen of automation’s impact on legal practice. It’s well worth the read for lawyers aspiring to tech excellence. But what if, instead of obsessing over how tech will impact lawyers, we became preoccupied with how tech will impact clients? What if we traded our lawyer-centric perspective for a client-centric one?

  • Harvard Launches “Free the Law” Digitization Project

    December 21, 2015

    It took Harvard Law School (HLS) nearly 200 years, since its founding in 1817, to amass its collection of United States case law reporters—one of the world’s largest collections of legal materials. It will take the HLS Library about three years to scan and digitize that collection and, in partnership with legal technology startup Ravel Law, make it freely available to the public online. If all goes according to plan, by early to mid–2017, the “Free the Law” project will have digitized the “official print versions of all historical U.S. court decisions,” according to the HLS Library blog...According to Adam Ziegler, manager of special projects at the Innovation Lab, the collaboration between Harvard and Ravel came about because HLS had “the vision and the content”—in the form of printed case law—to make the law digitally available, but not the financial and technological means to make this a reality. Ravel is responsible for designing and managing the online output. The raw case law material digitized by HLS and Innodata will be added to the Ravel platform, which allows users to view case connections and use data visualization tools to pinpoint influential cases on a given issue. As Steve Chapman, Manager of Digital Strategy for Collections at Harvard Law School, described it, “anybody who chooses to access Ravel has a means to engage with the law.”

  • Why Lawyers Can’t Ignore Technology

    November 2, 2015

    An op-ed by Adam Ziegler, Harvard Law School, Library Innovation Lab. Ever so gradually, some of our state bars are embracing a duty of technology competence, which requires lawyers to “keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.” That thin obligation may be fine as an ethical floor. But if we’re a profession committed to what’s best for our clients, can’t we do better than mere competence? Let’s strive for technology excellence.

  • Harvard Law Wins Webby, Quinn Emanuel an Honoree

    May 1, 2015

    Harvard Law School’s — a website dedicated to keeping internet URLs operable — has won the Webby Award for best legal site of 2015., a website for organizations in the “forever” business, is an online preservation site that tackles the problem of inoperable links, a phenomena known as “link rot,” which can undermine research by scholars and courts. It was developed by Harvard Law School Library in conjunction with university law libraries nationwide. Project Manager Adam Ziegler explained that link rot is “hugely damaging” to legal scholarship, noting that prior to’s 2013 launch, Harvard researchers determined that half of the links in all U.S. Supreme Court opinions no longer worked and more than 70 percent of law journal links were defunct...Over the last 20 months has enabled the creation of nearly 100,000 permanent links, Harvard Library Innovation Lab director Kim Dulin told Big Law Business, and garnered participation by 91 law libraries and nearly 300 legal journals.