AS MORE supporters of Australia’s most widely used free online legal research service pledge their money to keep it operating, New South Wales’ younger generation of lawyers have been working behind the scenes to build awareness of the site.
As Lawyers Weekly went to press this week, the NSW Young Lawyers had scheduled a fundraising BBQ in the heart of Sydney to keep the importance of the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) in the minds of the profession.
Young Lawyers president Scott Alden said the response AustLII has received following widespread reporting of its loss of major sponsorship was encouraging, although more was needed to keep the service up-to-date.
“It is not a question of whether AustLII lives or dies,” Alden said. “It is more a question of continuing with the quality product that it has been able to become over the last few years, and in fact improving on it.”
According to Alden, AustLII has virtually managed to secure funding to not just keep afloat but to continue updating its resources to a limited degree. But rather than just maintaining current levels, Alden is hoping continued financial support will help AustLII grow its databases to the benefit of users everywhere.
“They have got a queue of 20-plus courts and tribunals across Australia that want to participate in the AustLII program and become reported, through the addition of more databases,” he said.
The Young Lawyers decided to get involved with AustLII upon learning of its funding problems through the media. After meetings with AustLII managers, its civil litigation committee created the Civil Litigation AustLII Group (CLAG) in order to continue raising awareness of the need for ongoing support.
As Lawyers Weekly reported in May, AustLII ran into financial trouble when seed capital funding dried up once the service was fully established. It has now moved on to a stakeholder model, preferring under that system to have a diverse group of many and varied stakeholders, “so they are not beholden to any one particular stakeholder,” Alden said.
As AustLII’s online list of funding sources shows, it is receiving grants from a host of universities, government departments and private companies. Some of the law firms that have given in $5,000 or more include Baker & McKenzie, Minter Ellison, Clayton Utz, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Freehills, Middletons, Gadens, Norton Gledhill and Arnold Bloch Leibler.