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Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Free citator

A colleague sent me this gem of a tip last week. Austlii has a free citator: LawCite.

It's not perfect. For example, searching for Pitt v Baxter (2007) 34 WAR 102 in LawCite took me to Amaca Pty Ltd v Hannell! Yet, when I searched for R v Bassett [2008] EWCA Crim 1174, LawCite returned it while Lexis Nexis AU did not.

It has the advantage of being free. That's a pretty big advantage. It's also fast. Much faster than the commercial databases, because it's largely text-based.

I won't rely solely on LawCite. But then, I try not to rely solely on Lexis Nexis or FirstPoint, because they both have slightly different coverage. On 11 March 2009 Austlii will run a seminar on using JustCite at Owen Dixon chambers in the Neil McPhee room (where the Bar Readers moots are run). Obviously aimed at barristers, but I reckon if asked nicely they might let other practitioners come along. Apparently, bringing a wireless-enabled laptop is a boon.

[Edit] Since first writing this post, it seems Austlii has further refined it's search engine. If you now search for 34 WAR 102, you will return the correct result: Pitt v Baxter [2007) 34 WAR 102. (I have now changed they hyperlinks above to the correct entry for Amaca Pty Ltd v Hannell just to prevent confusing someone clicking on it.)

That's a good thing. It means Austlii is constantly refining and tweaking its search engine and improving its accuracy. That makes it even better in my opinion.

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