PreCYdent, New Public-Domain Law Search Engine, Features Sophisticated Search Engine & Social Networking Tools

There is a new public-domain law search engine on the block and it’s a dandy.
Like parallel projects, Public.Resource.Org and AltLaw, newcomer PreCYdent aims to compile public-domain cases and statutes for free availability on the Web. “We believe judicial opinions and statutes must be in the public domain, in practice as well as in theory. To us this means that effective legal research in all of these materials should be free to the user — not expensive, not inexpensive. Free.” Officially, the alpha version contains only U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Court of Appeals cases so far, but it looks like the US Code is available, as well.
Search Engine
There are several things that make PreCYdent stand apart from the other projects, however. Foremost is its sophisticated, yet simple-to-use Google-esque search engine developed specifically with legal resources in mind. “PreCYdent search technology is able to mine the information latent in the “Web of Law”, the network of citations among legal authorities. This means it is also able to retrieve legally relevant authorities, even if the search terms do not actually occur or occur frequently in the retrieved document.”
Social Networking
Another stand out aspect is PreCYdent’s incorporation of social networking tools, such as offering users the option to add tags and comments to documents, and to rate their importance. “Our objective is to create a space where people interested in law will be able to share knowledge, find help and to exchange experiences. We are going to integrate our effort with successful social communities such as Facebook. ”
For more on PreCYdent, see Robert Ambrogi’s insightful analysis, as well as, Joe Hodnicki’s interview with founder Thomas A. Smith, professor at University of San Diego School of Law.