Link rot is already known to be a large – and growing – issue in *court opinions*, *legal scholarship* and in many *other forms of scholarship*. With Perma.cc, we’re helping courts and scholars prevent link rot in their work.
But lately we’ve seen a surge in Perma.cc usage among law firms: in the past two years, Perma.cc links have been included in over 600 cases in both state and federal court. And we’ve heard from many law firms interested in understanding how link rot affects them and how they might use Perma to tackle the problem (*newly available* to law firms and other commercial entities!).
Which led us to ask: is link rot a problem for law firms? In a nutshell, the answer is yes, link rot is a significant problem for law firms, particularly in court filings and marketing materials.
Link Rot in Court Filings
As the quantity and availability of online resources increase, linked citations to these materials has expanded across a wide variety of fields, including the court filings made by lawyers. These citations are key to the documents they are included in, providing vital supporting information for the arguments being made and even replacing many print resources. But the evolving nature of the internet means these sources do not retain the stability of printed material and will change over time.
Broken links in court filings not only no longer support the argument or position they originally did, but also frustrate courts trying to interact with them as the information they need no longer exists.
To get a sense of the scope of the problem, we recently conducted a quick review of court filings made in the last five years by three of the largest law firms in the U.S. Of the briefs containing links:
- over 80% had at least one broken link,
- on average, these briefs contained around six broken links each, and
- one brief contained 17 broken links.
We also found that nearly 30% of all links that did still link to a page no longer displayed the referenced material, a.k.a. ‘reference rot’ or ‘content drift.’
Additionally, we found evidence that link rot can be very fast-acting: all of the briefs we reviewed were filed within the last five years, with one brief – filed just months ago in May 2017, containing 12 links – had roughly 75% of those links already broken.
So what can lawyers do about link rot?
This review of a small sample of briefs is hardly scientific, but highlights the problem and confirms that practicing lawyers, no less than courts and legal scholars, should be taking steps to link rot.
Perma.cc was devised and designed for this express purpose! Anyone can create a free account and make up to 10 Perma Links a month, and we’re now offereing a paid option for lawyers and law firms: visit our law firm signup page >here<, or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.