Submissions/Wikipedia and Legal Education

From Wikimania 2012 • Washington, D.C., USA

This is a rejected submission for Wikimania 2012.

Submission no.


Title of the submission
Wikipedia and Legal Knowledge
Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)
Author of the submission
Amanda Levendowski
E-mail address
Country of origin
United States
Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)
New York University School of Law, Wikipedia Campus Ambassador
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (please use no less than 300 words to describe your proposal)

As a Public Policy Initiative participant, I understand the value of recruiting students to improve areas of Wikipedia that lag behind our traditional strengths. At NYC Wikipedia Day, I presented about the importance of harnessing the knowledge, experience, and training of law students to improve legal articles on Wikipedia. A Legal Knowledge Initiative not only improves users' access to legal knowledge, but presents the legal editors with opportunities to improve their own skills. Because as many as 50% of law students are female, outreach to recruit law students as editors could also work towards closing the Gender Gap.

Much of our collective legal knowledge is difficult to obtain, challenging to understand or - in some cases - simply unavailable to the general public. By encouraging law students and professors to edit articles about doctrinal course cases, seminal court decisions, and contemporary legislation, that knowledge gap can be filled. Law students, professors, and practitioners are particularly knowledgeable about how to distill important aspects of a case, apply interpretive statutory canons, and effectively organize legal scholarship. By incentivizing those with legal experience to edit articles, both readability, usability, and access will be significantly improved. In the interest of spreading free knowledge, the benefits of legal articles edited by those with legal backgrounds is invaluable.

By contributing to Wikipedia, future lawyers and legal schools can hone skills they need (ability to write with a neutral perspective, and simplify difficult concepts without jargon) while sharing the knowledge they have (access to for-pay legal databases and training in legal issues). A project which employs legal editors also offers unique scalability: improvements can range from adding links and categories to relevant cases or making additions to info-boxes to briefing entire court opinions and reviewing contemporary legal scholarship. Students may use Wikipedia editing as an opportunity to collaborate with professors who they may otherwise be unable to connect with; professors may use Wikipedia editing as a way to organize legal research for an upcoming note or law review article by approaching the material from a neutral perspective.

Additional statistical information about the rise of Wikipedia as a primary research resource will also be explored. In recent years, Wikipedia has been cited as a source in nearly every federal circuit court, dozens of district courts, hundreds of law review articles, and innumerable briefs. Even the Supreme Court of the United States has referenced Wikipedia in its opinions.

While my experience is primarily with the American legal system, increased editing amongst legal scholars globally could have enormous value in improving articles about international laws, agreements, and treaties, as well as strengthening legal issues specific to the editors' countries.

Track (Wikis and the Public Sector; GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums); WikiCulture and Community; Research, Analysis, and Education; Technology and Infrastructure)
Research, Analysis, and Education
Length of presentation/talk (if other then 25 minutes, specify how long)
25 minutes or less
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
Possibly slides
Special request as to time of presentations (for example - can not present on Saturday)
Not July 12 or 13; must be on a weekend

Interested attendees

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  1. Poupou l'quourouce 20:31, 6 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Leibowitz (talk) 17:53, 28 February 2012 (UTC)</leibowitz>)[reply]
  3. Annie Lin (talk) 21:51, 5 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Pharos (talk) 12:46, 12 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Brest (talk) 09:55, 17 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  6. adub1010 12:55, 21 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  7. Jeremyb (talk) 03:57, 29 May 2012 (UTC)[reply]
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