What We Do

Publishing Law

Most of our publishing efforts go into producing and maintaining the extensive legal collections on this web site. Each year, they are used by over 32 million people from more than 240 countries and territories. As the first law site on the internet, we are proud to lend our expertise to new LIIs that develop in all parts of the world. We have worked with organizations and visiting scholars from four continents, most often and most recently in Africa. Our expertise in the policies and mechanics that surround open access to legal information has been used by many groups and organizations, including the United Nations, the Library of Congress, the US House of Representatives, and the European Commission.

Helping Understanding

The law is a complex and complicated system of knowledge that is more difficult to find and understand than it should be. While we do not offer legal advice, we try to develop systems that allow users from outside the legal profession to more easily access and understand the laws that govern them. Our Wex Legal Encyclopedia includes hundreds of definitions and explanations of legal topics; its entries are frequently used wholesale by journalists explaining the law to their readers, most recently by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune (we also appeared on Steven Colbert's show). The LII Supreme Court Bulletin keeps readers apprised of all pending Supreme Court cases and alerts subscribers with the decisions as soon as they are available. LII Announce is our blog that lets you know about what's new at the LII and in the world of legal information and research. We have also done technology research aimed directly at improving the public's ability to understand the law, most notably a research project on the readability of legislation.

Exploring Technologies

Much of our work in technology supports the publishing effort described above. Most recently, we've used natural-language processing and machine learning techniques to enrich our US Code and Code of Federal Regulations collections with internal links to formal definitions, and external links to many of the entities that they describe, activities that provide a place where Masters' of Engineering students in computer and information science can put their knowledge to work on the problem of making law more accessible and understandable. Those students regularly win prizes at Cornell's internal "science fairs" in advanced technologies.

The LII is proud to host visiting researchers who come here to learn and perform research that will help the spread of the free-law movement around the world. Most recently, we've hosted visitors from Spain, Finland, and Serbia; we have longstanding collaborations with many groups in sub-Saharan Africa, Japan, and China. We co-publish an open-access journal with research teams in Italy and in Spain. The LII also partners with our colleagues at Cornell Law School and Cornell University to put our technical knowledge to use on other problems facing society. You can learn more about our research on our forthcoming research pages, or explore VoxPopuLII, our blog for new voices in legal information research.