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The Online Version
of the Magazine
of Cornell Law School


Fall 2012


Volume 38, No 2

Peter Martin

Peter W. Martin

Thomas Bruce


Thomas R. Bruce

LII by the numbers

Table of Contents  Featured Article

LII@20: Cornell Law School's Enduring Gift

The first site on the Internet devoted to law, and among the first thirty websites in the world, the LII continues to provide a place where lawyers and business leaders, government regulators and ordinary citizens can access the laws that govern them without cost. What most legal professionals simply call “the Cornell site” now serves upwards of 14 million unique visitors each year and continues to play a leading role in the creation of new software technologies that make laws accessible around the world. LII director Thomas R. Bruce says, “It’s a unique institutional fit. We get enormous benefit from our location in a world-class law school that is part of a world-class university. We can draw on tremendous expertise, and what we see around us every day renews our commitment to our mission.”

When Bruce and Peter W. Martin, the Jane M.G. Foster Professor of Law, Emeritus and former dean of the Law School, cofounded the LII in 1992, they had no idea that it would launch a global free-access-to-law movement that has now grown to include more than forty independent LIIs around the world. And it is only fitting that Cornell Law School welcomes many of these LIIs to the United States for the first time—at the annual Law via the Internet Conference on October 7, 8, and 9. You can learn more about the conference at and visit the LII site to see how Martin and Bruce’s “summer project” has grown up.


Great Moments in LII and www History


Peter Martin begins work with legal hypertext on CDs. Tom Bruce becomes director of educational technologies at Cornell Law School.


Tim Berners-Lee writes initial proposal at European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) for what will become the World Wide Web.


Bruce meets Berners-Lee, founder of the World Wide Web. They travel to Champaign-Urbana to meet with the Mosaic development team.

The Common Gateway Interface (CGI) standard — the basis of all dynamic web pages — is conceptualized at this meeting and implemented a month later.


Bruce and Martin decide to put the law on the new WWW, creating the Legal Information Institute, among the first thirty websites in the world.

O’Reilly Publishing holds a conference for all the web developers in the world. All thirty-five of them, including Bruce, attend.


Bruce writes and releases Cello, the first web browser for IBM-compatible computers. University of Montreal research group, Lexum, brings the open access movement to Canada.

United Nations website goes online. Mosaic, the first graphical web browser, is released for UNIX and Mac users; eventually becomes Netscape.


The first electronic edition of the U.S. Code goes online at the LII.

White House website goes online; Senate and House launch information servers; Yahoo! is born.


AustLII brings the open access movement to Australia. With the assistance of Buffalo lawyer Jack Lippert, LII launches a full collection of New York Court of Appeals decisions.

CompuServe, Prodigy, and America Online begin to offer public internet services; Amazon and eBay are founded.


LII begins the LII Bulletin, using law students to write summaries and analyses of New York Court of Appeals decisions.


Martin teaches the first online distance-learning course in legal education, using the CU-SeeMe video software developed at Cornell and an innovative administrative model to teach students at four institutions.

AltaVista launches BabelFish, the first translation service for web content.


The first Law via the Internet (LVI) Conference is held in Sydney, Australia. LII, in collaboration with Harvard Law School, produces the first online edition of Bracton’s On the Laws and Customs of England, originally published ca. 1230.

Google and PayPal begin operations.


LII creates “backgrounder” series for journalists, offering commentary and explanation of popular legal topics to inform news stories; first offerings are insanity defense and RICO.

Napster is born, opening the door to peer-to-peer file sharing and large-scale piracy fears.


Bush v. Gore is decided by the Supreme Court. The LII site is accessed an average of 5,000 times per minute for fourteen hours, setting a record that still stands.

Y2K problem is not a problem.


The LII publishes the first XML version of the United States Code, creating the first comprehensive collection of national legislation to use this now-universal data standard.

Wikipedia is born.


Fourth Annual LVI Conference is held in Montreal, where the Declaration on Free Access to Law is adopted by five national LIIs. Associate director Sara Frug joins the LII as a part-time editor.

LinkedIn is born.


Martin retires from teaching and Bruce becomes sole LII director. Namesake LIIs now number twenty-two.

Apple launches iTunes music store; MySpace and Skype are born.


LII Bulletin changes editorial focus to concentrate on Supreme Court cases, providing analysis of cases prior to oral arguments.

Facebook is born.


LII’s resources are now used by people in over 200 countries, including Uzbekistan and Pitcairn Island.

YouTube is born.


Bruce is engaged by the Swedish International Development Agency as consultant to a project to strengthen legal education in Vietnam.

Twitter and WikiLeaks are born.


LII meets with European information scientists in Leiden, leading to a series of international collaborations in legal informatics.

There are now well over 109 million web servers in the world.


LII version of the Tax Code (USC 26) is used by the IRS in its Tax Documents CD product and on the website.

Mobile phones surpass personal computers as the most common devices for web access; Google Chrome browser is released.


Bruce named one of fifty leading innovators in the American legal profession by the American Bar Association’s “Legal Rebels” project; LII launches Lawyer Directory Service in collaboration with


The Hague Conference on Private International Law engages Bruce and Martin as invited experts to work on problems answering legal questions across borders.

U.S. Supreme Court begins posting audio and text of oral arguments on its website.


LII creates its first edition of the Code of Federal Regulations, and offers its first e-Books. Bruce named member of the Fastcase 50 for contributions to legal information and technology.

Open access to communication and information plays a role in the Arab Spring uprisings.


LII celebrates twentieth anniversary and hosts LVI conference in the United States for the first time; launches the LII edition of the Code of Federal Regulations. Martin named member of the Fastcase 50 for contributions to legal information and technology. Namesake LIIs number forty.

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