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Right now correct and comprehensive US legal research requires a lot of expertise and a lot of money. Could "skeptics" provide the expertise and bypass the money element? I am working on a legalresearch wiki, http://legalresearch.wikischolars.columbia.edu/, explaining the strengths and weaknesses of free-of-charge legal research. Casetext, https://casetext.com/, is attempting to create crowdsources for cases. Legalresearch wiki = expertise. Casetext, https://casetext.com/, attempts to provide the alternative for the fee-based case law database content. So far nothing seems to be working, so what about having a space on the Internet where legal research questions are posed and experts answer them, and other users vote their usefulness?

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    Well 1) what would be vetting process for experts? 2) why would the majority vote of "other users" as concerned with the correctness of law be in anyway a supplement for the educated research of those researching law? Years of education in the legal practice cannot simply be replaced by majority rules.
    – user776
    Mar 11 '14 at 3:45
  • 1. that is always a problem with expertise comes responsibility. They way I see it this would go: best way to access USC a. fdsys, b. google search, c. westlaw, etc. the experts would vote a or be or c. 2. isn't this a problem with any crowding tool? I agree that legal education cannot be replaced by majority rules...but again, we have to start with some trust of users' use of this tool
    – edn13
    Mar 11 '14 at 17:29
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I don't speak for the leadership, but while I think that is a fine idea -- after visiting here for over a year I would say it is not really the skeptics.stackexchange.com mission or core competency to answer legal questions.

While skeptics can correctly answer the occasional legal fallacy question (e.g. must I really pay my income tax or should I listen to this man Irwin Schiff who writes books explaining how the income tax is illegal?), the answer may not rise to the standards of legal research.

There have been Q&A here about law and of course my favorite, Are there public laws dealing with extraterrestrial contact? but I don't think these rise to the level of legal research by expert attorneys or law school professors publishing in journals. For many of the questions posted here that level of expertise and peer review is probably unnecessary, just as you don't need a tenured professor of geology to find the relevant high-quality citations that the Earth is not 6000 years old.

On Skeptics, anyone in the community, even new users, may answer. It is not restricted to experts.

If you want experts to answer the questions, it sounds like you need to build your own law-oriented community. Stack Exchange has a community procedure to evaluate and launch new sites at http://area51.stackexchange.com ; or you could start your own community with whatever resources are at your disposal.

Keep in mind, though, that legal questions where the questions are answered by experts but voted upon by a wider group may not yield the correct answers as most popular. No one likes paying taxes or having their pet vice branded a crime or learning about how they don't have the rights that they thought they had because the Supreme Court doesn't interpret the Constitution like they think it should be interpreted.

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  • Paul. Yes, I am trying to build a law-oriented community. Thank you for the suggestion, and yes, I have been building a legal research wiki as well, legalresearch.wikischolars.columbia.edu. And, finally, yes, Are there public laws dealing with extraterrestrial contact? is a fine question.
    – edn13
    Mar 11 '14 at 17:36
  • It should also be noted that law, unlike other areas is very dependant on geography, and since this site and network are global (of the top 8 users of this site, 2 don't say where they are from and the other two are all from different countries) even expertise in law may be irrelevant to many questions, will you trust a lawyer with 20 years of experience in the UK to advise you on a case that is being held in Germany?
    – SIMEL
    Mar 11 '14 at 21:41
  • Another issue is that legal advice and to some extent research is also constrained temporally. Whatever is true now, may be wrong in a few months. This is IMHO already a problem with many of the visa related questions on travel.stackexchange.com. Older questions may have upvoted and accepted answers, which due to changes in visa regulations in the meantime are misleading or even completely incorrect. I am not sure if it's useful at all to allow or keep such questions in an archived Q&A forum like Stackexchange. Mar 12 '14 at 15:28
  • I totally agree with this answer, and if you are looking to set up a space for this to happen. I draw your attention to Ask Patents, a Q&A site which essentially looks to do exactly what you are doing - utilize crowdsourcing to provide evidence in legal cases. You might talk to the people who set that up. Mar 13 '14 at 0:29

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