The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals recently posted its Practitioners Handbook to the web and opened it up for revision by members of the bar. It’s a “no holds barred” approach to harnessing the collective wisdom of legal practitioners. Attorneys are encouraged to make comments, change information, add topics; in short, post whatever they think is important to know about practicing in the 7th Circuit.
â€œOur proposition is that everyone knows more than any one person,â€ says Chief Judge Frank H. Easterbrook. â€œAs a group, the attorneys practicing before our court know more about appellate practice than any single person. With our wiki, weâ€™re drawing on that wisdom.â€
Judge Easterbrook makes a few refreshing comments about how they intend to deal with vandalism and misinformation:
â€œBy their nature, wikis are self-policing,â€ says Easterbrook. â€œAn active community does our monitoring. A mistake made by one contributor can be corrected by another contributor within minutes….Some protection is provided by our community of users viewing the page often enough to catch mistakes. We also keep a log of any changes and who makes the changes. And, if all else fails, weâ€™ve designated staff to monitor the page and revert to an old page if the changes are particularly damaging…After all, wikis are easier to change than a law review article.â€
Another sign that the wiki paradigm is making inroads into just about every institution in society