The ABA Journal Daily alerted us to “Google Offers Legal Research for Average Citizen… and Lawyers Too” so we had to take Google Scholar out for a test drive. Along the way, we also stumbled across another Google product, Fast Flip. Both are free.
Apparently Google wants to dip a toe into the legal research world by adding a “legal opinions and journals” radio button to Google Scholar search. In our unscientific testing, Scholar did not find a recent Fourth DCA case which was issued that same day. A “regular” Google search, however, pulled the case right up. Depending on when you read this, test it out using that same case. Email when that case makes it to Scholar.
Testing slightly older cases, we searched for a relatively new case, Perez v. Life Care Centers, and obtained no results in Scholar but, again, “regular” Google pulled the case right up. Even a few cases we tested which date back a few months fail to appear in Scholar but pop right up in Google.
Searches by case names and attorney names seems to work fairly well, although not necessarily in chronological order. There is even an attempt to reference whether the case has been cited (a rough version of Westlaw’s KeyCite or, for we old-timers, “Shepardizing”). Like anyone with a Google search bar and a few moments on his hands, I searched my own name and it dutifully pulled up some appellate decisions but no journal articles.
A good start for a Google Lab project. We like it.
Also of interest is the current events reader, Fast Flip, which needs little explanation. Watch the media, they’ll likely pick it up soon as the new internet toy…