I Can’t Code: True Confessions of an Old-Fashioned Lawyer in a High-Tech World

The story of the Legal Information Institute, and of much of Free Law, is a tale of technical design and execution.  These days, a person can learn a whole lot about the law without visiting a library or hitting a paywall. Technologists like Tom Bruce at Cornell, Tim Stanley at Justia, Anurag Acharya at Google Scholar, and John Mayer at CALI were the agents of that particular innovation and deserve much of the credit.  But what do lawyers, law professors and law students who don’t know Ruby from Python (like me!) need to understand when navigating the digital world of free legal databases? How can those of us who hear “code” and think “statutes” (and not “software”) impact the Free Law community within the framework of a traditional legal education? 

This session posits that many of the greatest challenges to Free Law today are not technical at all, and there is plenty to be done in law, policy, and practice for those of us who seek to be agents of innovation in open access to the law but will never be confused for software developers.

Attendees need no prior knowledge of the Free Law landscape in America, and certainly no technical expertise of any sort whatsoever.  Ideally, all (including the speaker) will leave the session with a greater appreciation of the non-technical impediments to Free Law in the United States, how those obstancles hinder innovation, and why it all matters.



Craig Newton's picture
Real name: 
Co Director
Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School

Craig spent six years at the law firm Cooley LLP litigating a broad range of commercial disputes for companies such as Adobe, Facebook, Nintendo, and Qualcomm before returning to Ithaca. Having left a career as first a naval flight officer and then an intelligence analyst to attend Cornell law school in the mid-aughts, Craig now calls upon all facets of his prior experience as he mentors teams of law students, manages LII's network of volunteers and legal professionals, monitors the website to discern usage trends and patterns, studies trends in open access and free law, oversees LII's communications and fundraising efforts, and pursues new partnership initiatives–all with an eye toward expanding the availability of free and open legal information resources on the internet.  Craig is a proud recipient of the FastCase Fifty Award for his work in Free Law.  

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