Yesterday Mark Boyd published a great story about the CourtListener API on Programmable Web. Mark talked to several of the API’s early adopters and really learned what the issues are and how people are addressing them. Thanks to all those quoted in the story for taking the time to talk with Mark about the CourtListener REST API. We’re excited about how you all are already using the API and hope to continue improving it. (There’s nothing like people hitting your website thousands of times a day to shake loose hard-to-find bugs…and we’ve had some of that too and hope to get any and all bugs resolved ASAP!)
I particularly like Waldo Jaquith‘s sentiment quoted in the article that 24 months from now we will find it quaint that anyone found this interesting. I sure hope so! That will mean we’ve made many advances and the thought of not having an API for United States case law will seem unimaginable. Unfortunately, free programmatic access—even digital access—to U.S. case law has been not much more than a fanciful dream for a long time in the legal technology community. For years we’ve been like a textile industry that knows the cotton gin exists and even knows how to build one, and yet no one ever has built one. We now have in place a key tool necessary to enable a revolution. We also need the raw materials: the court documents themselves, and we’ll continue to work on that until we can confidently say we’ve got that fully covered, but in 24 months I think we’ll look back and not only find it quaint that this was interesting in 2013, but also we’ll mark this time as an important turning point, where the seed for that legal technology revolution was planted.