Legal portal project puts feelers out for IT provider

A planned legal information portal, supported by the New Zealand Law Foundation, is looking for a technology provider.

A planned legal information portal, supported by the New Zealand Law Foundation, is looking for a technology provider.

Legal Information New Zealand, a company set up by the foundation in 2000 to work on the portal, has posted a request for expressions of interest in being the technology provider for the portal.

The original concept of an internet-enabled legal information hub was initiated in 1999, when Lils (the legal information and library services committee) was set up to look at ways to deliver information held in law libraries via the net. Lils morphed into Legal Information NZ the following year, with the Law Foundation and the Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury law societies as shareholders.

The request closes on May 24 and, following the expected approval of Legal Information NZ’s business case to the Law Foundation in July, contract negotiations with the chosen provider are planned for July or August.

The portal project was initiated last year with $13,000 seed funding from the foundation and the establishment of Legal Information NZ. Further funding to the $13,000 grant was given in March, to approve preparation of a business case.

A business case, put to the Law Foundation last August, was a goal following the presentation of a report on the portal project by web design firm McGovern and Associates in July. However, almost a year later, the project is still awaiting approval of the business case.

Law Foundation director Lynda Hagan says the time spent to date is longer than would have been hoped, but says there have been many issues to work though. “There are a lot of stakeholders involved and we wanted to canvass the opinions of potential users and inputters.”

On the technology side, according to the expression of interest document, “to date, the project has informally approached or has been approached by several technology vendors and at this stage there is no preference for any particular technology, approach or vendor”. After those talks, it was determined that “the solution will most likely comprise a mix of package products and custom development”.

Experience in commercial partnering, in taking a project from proof of concept to completion and in integrating systems and IS is a requirement for the successful bidder, which will be selected after a shortlist of candidates is made.

Sites such as FindLaw and Pipers Patent Trademark Attorneys offer law firm and basic legal information but no access to law libraries.

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