'Maverick' Engineers Help Put More Law in FindLaw

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on August 28, 2012 4:02 PM

Ever wonder where all the legal information here at FindLaw.com comes from? The answer lies with our teams of lawyers and engineers. And technically, a few "Mavericks" as well.

Most of what a visitor sees in FindLaw's Learn About the Law section comes from the minds of FindLaw's lawyers. These lawyer-writers break down laws and legal principles so everyday consumers can understand them.

But FindLaw also boasts a bevy of court decisions, state laws, and federal laws, straight from the source. And that's where our engineers and "Mavericks" come in.

FindLaw’s collection of cases and codes, for example, is directly derived from official case summaries and state codes available online. So how do we collect that data?

Enter FindLaw’s engineers. Or more specifically, their Mavericks — a handful of college engineering students who work part-time under the tutelage of FindLaw’s tech gurus.

Our Mavericks are affiliated with a company, Minnesota-based Maverick Software Consulting, which links talented undergraduates with FindLaw. Among their many projects: creating a program to import all of those cases and state laws into FindLaw’s online compendium.

Former Maverick Ayana Cole remembers what went through her mind when she started that project: “I was like, ‘OK, so where do we start?’”

“It was my first position in software engineering [and] it was a challenge,” said Cole, who now works for FindLaw full-time.

It’s truly a win-win situation, said Jeff Rogers, manager of technology for FindLaw’s portal team.

“Mavericks get to go at it themselves” and put their knowledge to practice, leaving FindLaw’s staff engineers free to work on other projects, Rogers explained. Those projects include constantly refreshing content, improving the performance of our systems, and implementing Green Lantern, a new content management system.

“We’re basically improving the usability of the website, making it more user-friendly,” Cole said of her engineering colleagues. And that helps to put the power of the law into the hands of FindLaw’s visitors.