And here's his email, inviting participation:
PreCYdent is a free legal research site that applies new search technology to law, which is much, much more effective at finding authoritative and relevant cases than Westlaw or Lexis. The idea is that anybody, whether they are a lawyer or not, and whether or not they can afford what the big companies charge, ought to be able to do effective legal research online.
PreCYdent was founded by me and Antonio Tomarchio, a mathematician from the Politecnico di Milano (and my co-author) to remedy the deplorable state of the search technology that lawyers have to use in their online research. The online legal research industry is dominated by a couple of big players that make billions of dollars a year offering obsolete technology at high prices to lawyers who don't have much choice. This relative lack of competition is responsible in my view for the backwardness of the technology.
But it also turns out that making search technology that works well in legal databases is really, really hard. Existing technologies, including Google's PageRank, do not work very well in legal authority networks. But we created something that does work well. If you are used to Westlaw or Lexis, I think you will notice the difference right away. Our tests show we return relevant cases at something like 4 to 5 times the rate of Westlaw and Lexis. But let us know what your impressions are.
Here's an interesting post about us by a technology blogger in Southern California (as you can tell, it's a candid, non- sock puppet review): http://www.techcoastreview.com/2008/03/precydent-setting-precident.html
We are trying to get the word out about PreCYdent as efficiently as we can. If you know lawyers or others interested in law, or people interested in web apps and technology, we'd be grateful if you would forward this message to them. The site is free, and we are not trying to sell anything to anybody, unless you count the ads in the margins. We are committed to bringing free law to everybody interested in it.