Specialist Legal Research Services On-line - CrimeLine


Note: This entry was provided by Andrew Keogh of CrimeLine for the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers September/October issue, 2013. One particular aspect of the article was the relationship of the company with BAILII and legislation.gov.uk. The Editor of the overall article, called Keeping up to date with the law, was Nick Holmes.

CrimeLine was founded in 2002. It started life as a small distribution newsletter designed to bring to the attention of colleagues the latest cases and legislation. Almost 700 editions later the newsletter is serving the needs of nearly 20,000 lawyers who receive our bulletins.

In addition to the newsletter we have a free access case database and we provide a (paid for) training and consultancy to barristers and solicitors. In recent years we have moved into traditional print publishing and later in 2013 we will launch a digital publishing platform (CrimeLine Complete) to complement the move towards digital working within the criminal justice system.

CrimeLine differentiates itself from competitors on the following fronts:

  • It is (and will remain) free;
  • Practising lawyers decide the content, ensuring that we cover first and foremost that which is relevant on a day to day basis; and
  • We are unencumbered by traditional editorial models, which means that we can (and do each week) send out CrimeLine with important developments, sometimes within a few minutes of a judgment being handed down.

    Over the last year we have developed our social media strategy, first with Twitter (@crimelinelaw) and more recently via Facebook (facebook.com/crimelinelaw). Twitter engagement has been remarkably successful as we continue to invest heavily in identifying what the customer wants — we really do find it good to talk.

    We also developed two apps for the Apple store and tested those, concluding, however, that we would not develop the project further.

    We rely heavily on free access to cases and as each year goes by this access increases, allowing publishers like ourselves to create innovative products and drive economic growth (CrimeLine employs six people). Cases come from a variety of sources, including BAILII.

    Access to legislation is, however, still woefully inadequate. legislation.gov.uk is ideal for access to new statutes and SIs but it would be an act of professional negligence to use the database for accessing anything more than a few days old. Regrettably the project has been stalled for years and is not really much further on than the old statute law database. If government is to make laws accessible to all, and allow for the use of data it needs to invest considerably in the website.

    We are only seeing the start of opportunities opening up as a result of more open access to data and law. I confidently predict a few decades of rapid growth as innovative lawyers further seek to disrupt the traditional publishing monopolies that have stifled knowledge distribution for so long. Whilst some areas of law thrive, the reality is that those lawyers serving the legal aid market can no longer afford traditional products with their sky high margins, which is great news for us!

    Andrew Keogh is a solicitor specialising in criminal law and is publisher of CrimeLine.
    Email andrewkeogh@gmail.com.

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