27 Dec 2007

Online law resources in India

Though the IT industry came out really well from the Y2K bug, it hit the law profession really hard. And on began the profession's crusade to computerization and uprising from manual filings. Starting with the provision of select decisions being made available online [click here], later up the cause-lists [click here for the dedicated site], and court profiles [click here]. The march has really come on a long way now with exclusive website for the Supreme Court and other High Courts (though not all of them have the privilege yet).

Then we had the private players coming in the market. The first ones were really a conglomeration of various weblinks with no particular content of their own. I fail to recall those names because we never really searched through them. We used yahoo (google was yet to be born then) or other search engines. The second generation legal resource website were a bit of improvement but not all together different. They were more like newsletters which carried updates from various/select legal segments and then links for other content. Some of these which are still hosted can be viewed here; http://www.vakilno1.com/ ; http://www.helplinelaw.com/ ; http://www.laws4india.com/ ; http://www.indialawsite.com/. Then there were websites of publishers who simply were too fazed by the idea of losing out customers who looked for products online. Some of these, just to point out, can be recalled as [ http://www.cliofindia.com/ ; http://www.ebc-india.com/ ; etc.]

The third generation law resource websites, as I put them, came only with the modern lawyer's onslaught into the profession. The 5-year national law schools churning out research-freaks, knowledge hungry professionals were not satisfied with reading decade old books which gave no idea of the recent trends in the areas they researched on. Though the international law virtual libraries came to persuade them to a large extent (and still do considerably), that was not found sufficient as they simply lacked the Indian legal material which was the need of the hour.

This niche area was very well provided by manupatra. I was in my second year of law school then and simply was unsure whether such an online site would find a buyer in the market and was surprised that it not only did, it by its aggressive marketing tactics, it did become the product subscribed for by all decent sized law firms and used across the industry. Though a paid one like all international law resources, www.manupatra.com has become one essential research tool for the lawyer today.

Now even the hard-copy based SupremeCourtCases (or simply
SCC) has come out with its own web version [http://www.scconline.com/]. Then there is also a new player [http://www.indlaw.com/] trying to capture the market, which really is getting cramped with discussion oriented websites [http://www.legalserviceindia.com/ ; http://www.lawentrance.com/] which offer a lot of comments but no reliable-comprehensive resources which are really required for winning cases and like.

Even then, when manupatra is the market leader in this regard, still there is a not of space for new participants and in fact an entire industry is open to development and growth. Compared to the resources which Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis offer, the online law resource market in
India is yet to take off the ground.

1 comment:

Vijay Kumar said...

I see a paradigm shift with new Web 2.0 players like www.advocatekhoj.com