In our digital age, data is an essential currency. Government at all levels, from local municipalities to the White House, has started to recognize the opportunities that come when open, machine-readable data is the default for government information.
Still stuck in an analog age, however, is the judicial branch. Legal materials largely remain locked behind expensive paywalls or archived in books gathering dust. Our collaboration with Harvard Law School is changing that, and we’re taking the next step in making the law open and accessible to all.
Starting today, for the first time ever, the comprehensive, authoritative collection of New York case law is now digitized and available to anyone with an internet connection. Everyone can search and read all of New York’s cases for free, including milestone cases like Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad, which greatly influenced the development of American common law on negligence and torts. Using our visualizations, anyone can explore a case map to identify key cases and trace the evolution of legal topics, taking the guesswork out of research.
Some people may wonder how making all this information freely available fits with our mission as a for-profit company. How does Ravel make money, they ask? The answer is simple: we do not believe in charging for access to legal information, and our subscription-based services are built on top of this data to help people work efficiently, thoroughly, and with data-driven intelligence. So for the public, this is an extraordinary new resource. For legal professionals considering or already using Ravel, this is an enrichment that adds even more depth to our paid, advanced services like Judge Analytics and Case Analytics.
New York State’s legal history stretches back to the founding of our country, and the Ravel team is immensely proud that we’re able to make this important material available to our country and the world. In addition to providing advanced search capabilities to New York’s court decisions, Ravel has started to add New York state judges to our Judge Analytics platform, for professionals who subscribe to our analytical tools.
This is just the beginning of what can happen when open data is combined with the power of data analytics. Now that we’ve digitized the case law of California and New York, we’ll be moving even faster in bringing the remaining states’ online. Stay tuned for updates.
We just took a big step forward in making the law freely and easily available.
Starting today, as part of the Harvard-Ravel digitization project, the comprehensive, authoritative collection ofCalifornia case law is available online at Ravel. For the first time, anyone can search and read all California court opinions for free, including landmark rulings on every topic, from same-sex marriage (In re Marriage Cases, 2008) to separation of powers (Houston v. Williams, 1859). Each case is accompanied by a high-quality scan of the original book in which it was published, providing an authentic version that can not be found anywhere else but Ravel.
For lawyers, law students, academics and the general public, this is an extraordinary resource that was previously out of reach to many.
California’s court opinions are a critical part of our country’s legal “operating system,” yet until today these rulings have been locked behind expensive paywalls and printed in books available only to a limited few. Ravel now makes this vast legal database available to everyone, along with powerful tools to sift through it.
We’re incorporating Harvard’s case law collection into the rest of our platform as well. For professionals who subscribe to our suite of analytical tools, you’ll soon find California state judges as part of our Judge Analytics feature and will be able to explore in powerful detail how these judges make decisions.
There is enormous pent-up demand for access to the law. Since we announced our collaboration with Harvard our web traffic has gone through the roof, with more than 200% month-over-month growth in users and a 160% increase in page views. We expect these numbers to continue to rise as more case law comes online, more people learn about this resource, and more professionals turn to data-driven insights to develop legal strategy.
With this expanded, comprehensive body of case law, we’re excited to scale in new ways. Stay tuned for details to come.