Idea the Second

“Open source” bar review materials.

Imagine a site with bar exam outlines, study guides, and huge banks of sample questions, all on the Wikipedia model. That is, lawyers and law students would colletively and collaboratively produce the materials, which would be freely available, easily editable, and guaranteed free to reuse. With good enough content, self-study would become a viable option for far more law students, saving them each thousands of dollars, many hours of great boredom, and untold stress.

The key, I think, would be to have a slightly professionalized core. They’d do some basic moderation (though not very much) and would be the initial critical mass of high-volume contributors. As the site gathered users and authors, they’d work to create high-quality finished versions of those portions of the site that would most need to inspire confidence (e.g. the study plans, which for many students, would be the most stress-saving part of the site). If things went well, it might be possible to have the paid professional staff drop almost entirely out of the project. Their costs—and the hosting costs of the service—would be the sort of thing that it would be part of the natural mission of law schools to fund; the work in raising the quality of bar preparation among lawyers-to-be is also the sort of thing about which many law firms might well be enthusiastic.

Even a well-known central repository of past questions would be a great public service, but when you open your mind to the full peer-production possibilities, the sky’s the limit.