Nonlegal Information and the Delegalization of Law
Posted: 12 Jun 2001
Technological changes have made access to non-legal information such as newspaper reports and general interest books far less costly. As expected, this has increased the citation to such materials, not only absolutely but as a proportion of citations generally and of secondary citations. We document this change through analyses of citation to nonlegal information in the Supreme Court of the United States, in the Supreme Court of New Jersey, and in selected other courts. The increase in the citation in nonlegal information is only explainable by a decrease in the cost of access to such information that is greater than the decreased cost for access to other sorts of information traditionally relied on by lawyers, judges, and law clerks. If this trend continues and signals a change in acceptable authority, it may foreshadow the decreased dominance of the traditional canon of legal information, which may, in turn, produce the phenomenon we call the "delegalization" of law.
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