2024 Tomash Virtual Lecture with Alex Reiss-Sorokin

Join CBI's 2023-2024 Tomash Fellow Alex Reiss-Sorokin, Ph.D. Candidate in History, Anthropology, Science, Technology, and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), presenting her paper From Research to Search: Legal Research Technologies, 1964-1994.

This virtual event is free and open to the public.

Registration closes at 12 CST on Monday, April 29.


Abstract: This talk interrogates how lawyers who traditionally relied on books came to use and trust computers for their work. I focus on the evolution of the Ohio Bar Automated Research (OBAR) System, a local legal research system developed for small Ohio firms, into LexisNexis, a national service better suitable for Big Law's needs (and pockets). As early plans for automating legal practice emerged in the 1960s United States, lawyers’ work became an object of empirical and technical interest. It was not long before the interest in lawyers’ traditional legal research practices waned, and the emphasis moved to the many systems developed in the 1960s to “automate” legal research. In the process of developing the OBAR system, normative disagreements were recast as technical decisions in the process of developing OBAR/Lexis. Legal research was stripped of its social and political implications and remade as legal “search,” a stand-alone, general skill. In particular, the talk focuses on the developers' and users' competing notions of trust and credibility, tracing the “techniques of trust” that enabled the spread and ascent of OBAR/Lexis.





Start date
Tuesday, April 30, 2024, 2 p.m.
End date
Tuesday, April 30, 2024, 3 p.m.

Free online event