is Closed

May 3, 2010 has shut down, permanently. We would like to thank everyone for their support.

For free legal research on the web, we recommend the following sites:

Copies of the case law collections used on this site are available from

November 19, 2009

Earlier this week, Google announced the addition of legal cases to Google Scholar. It's good, very good. But you don't have to take our word for it: try it out yourself.

Everything we have done or planned to do with AltLaw, Google has does better. What else would you expect? Search is their core business; they have hundreds of brilliant engineers, a vast computing infrastructure, and billions of dollars invested in it.

While we could see this as the 800-pound gorilla stomping on our pet project, the truth is that we -- a small academic group within Columbia Law School -- were never really equipped to handle the challenges of building and maintaining a state-of-the-art search engine. When we started out, three years ago, our goal was to make primary legal research freely available to the public. In that, we have succeeded: primary legal research is freely available to the public, not only from Google, but from several start-ups and non-profits.

Therefore, we are happy to announce that Project AltLaw (Phase One) is complete. We will continue to maintain the web site and search service for a few months, but we will not be adding new features or new content., in its current form, will shut down in early 2010.

We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to everyone who helped make AltLaw happen. Special thanks go to our co-founder Paul Ohm, Tom Bruce at the Cornell Legal Information Institute, Carl Malamud at, and Tim Stanley at

The next question is, what will Project AltLaw (Phase Two) be? To be honest, we don't know ... yet. But we've got some cool ideas that have been sitting on the back burner for a while. Now that Google has taken over the hard work of collecting and indexing all the case law on the web, we can turn our attention to those other projects.

If you're interested in following what we are doing, keep an eye on this page -- we will make sure to post notice of new projects here. News about Columbia-sponsored projects will also be published on the Columbia Law School web site. You can also keep up with two of AltLaw's founders, Tim Wu and Stuart Sierra, on their personal blogs. As always, we welcome your comments at

Stuart Sierra
Assistant Director, Program on Law & Technology, Columbia Law School