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Trend of Legal Wikis

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Collaborative content management style enters the legal world. Not a new thing, but its becoming a trend now:

The key word in these experiments is collaboration and the engine driving them is a type of Web site known as a wiki, from the Hawaiian word for fast. A wiki allows any Web page visitor to easily add, remove or edit content.

Editing can be done quickly from within a browser and without any special knowledge of authoring formats. A wiki's simplicity and ease of use make it an ideal tool for group projects. The first wiki software, WikiWikiWeb, was written in 1994. But it wasn't until recently that wikis saw broader use. No doubt, a driving force has been the best-known wiki -- the collaboratively written encyclopedia Wikipedia.

Neither are wikis new to the legal profession. Denver lawyer John DeBruyn has been experimenting with wikis as a tool for lawyer-to-lawyer collaboration since at least 1997. But in the legal world, as elsewhere, wikis have become more widely used in the last year or two.

Last year, I wrote an op-ed piece about "wikislation" and it received feedbacks from a number of enthusiast. Now, I am beginning to think that the idea to wikislate is extendable to the creation of autonomous laws, such as "code of conduct", "term of reference" or "company regulation". I just haven't come up with a viable technical mechanism in doing this.

Another idea is to draft a wiki contract. Why not draft a wiki site containing boilerplate provisions? That way the whole world can collaborate in creating a draft contract. It also saves a lot of time. Interested?