The key idea behind Casetext is that the annotations that drive Lexis and Westlaw’s bottom lines can be crowdsourced. One obvious parallel is Wikipedia, with its hundred million man-hours of user contributed content, but Huey and Heller also point to Quora for its high quality answers by professionals and experts in various fields.
I asked Casetext’s founders why they thought they would be able to attract users to contribute. There are several aspects to their strategy. First, they focused on making contributing extra easy by concentrating heavily on UX. Users can very easily add tags to a case, or, more valuably, to paragraphs within a case. It’s also easy to link to other resources, including other cases or even outside materials like law review articles, which are the legal equivalent of scientific journal articles. Second, they’re hoping users will see some benefits in contributing content. Like Quora, users sign up with their real names, which incentivizes good behavior and means quality contributions can lead to real world reputational effects. Some early users — who the founders brought onboard by plain old hustling and tapping their networks — include well known law professors and lawyers. For example, Alexander Reinert, a law professor at Cardozo Law School, annotated Iqbal v. Ashcroft, a case he argued at the Supreme Court.