A planned legal information portal funded by the New Zealand Law Foundation is a step closer with the release of a report by website designer Paul Reynolds.
The foundation has provided $13,000 seed funding for the project and a company, Legal Information (NZ), has been established for the purpose of getting the portal up and running.
Whether the next phase, a further grant from the law foundation, goes ahead depends on a credible business plan being presented at the foundation’s next meeting on August 15, foundation director Lynda Hagan says. “We have a draft version of the plan and are expecting to receive the final version at the meeting.”
The project began as Lils (the legal information and library services committee), set up in 1999 to look at ways to deliver law library information with the aid of internet technology. Lils reported to the New Zealand Law Society Council in 2000 that such a move was feasible and desirable and it was decided that a company, rather than a committee, would be the best means to achieve the goal.
Legal Information (NZ) was formed that year, with the Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury law societies becoming founding shareholders and the Law Foundation a 50% shareholder. The company contracted Reynolds, of web design firm McGovern and Associates, to write a scoping report.
In the report, Reynolds notes the planned portal won’t be a competitor to existing online sources of legal information and instead will serve as a “common gateway to existing and planned legal information currently online". Nonetheless, some original content may appear on the portal.
A key plank of the portal is the development of an agreed, common indexing standard and the report recommends it be a variant of the proposed New Zealand Government Locator Service (NZGLS) meta data standard.
The development of a legal thesaurus, to provide the vocabulary for the portal metadata standard, is also desirable, Reynolds says.
Legal Information (NZ) invites comment and feedback on the report and the portal project.