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Docstoc Shares Legal Documents, But Are They Reliable?

Denise Howell over at Lawgarithims has good things to stay about Docstoc, a "user generated community where you can find and share professional documents." There are tons of sample legal and business forms to be had, not to mention law school outlines and bar exam resources. Seems a lot like Scribd but with more legal content.

The content is extensive to be sure, but the lack of authority scares me. I was troubled that so many Docstoc documents are of anonymous authorship, and even when authorship is listed, authority is certainly not guaranteed.

As a librarian, I'm constantly advising people to pay attention to the source when replying upon information from the Web. This is particularly important for legal information where so much as a misplaced comma can cost millions.

I'll all for social networking and building up the information commons, but legal contract language does doesn't strike me as something I'd be willing to trust to an unknown author. But, maybe I'm being overly cautious and not appreciating the whole social networking dynamic. What do you think?

Comments

Librarians are so used to evaluating the quality of information in resources (print or electronic) that it's hard for us to understand the "good enough" mentality. But sometimes "good enough" is, well, good enough. In the case of Docstoc and the like, we are seeing the emergence of resources that may be good enough in some situations - for instance, as a research starting point. A lawyer may find just enough language to get him/her started.

That's really the bottom line. Professionals should never lose sight of who is responsible for their work product.

Good point, Genie. Docstoc may indeed offer a good starting off point for contract language, as long as users take the time to critically examine it before relying upon it.

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