Entries combined from multiple sources
This is a new free online glossary containing several thousand definitions of legal terms; all applicable in the state of Oregon.
The idea: combine many sources into a new reference
I had the idea when I first saw that the Oregon Revised Statues contains hundreds of Definitions sections throughout the text. I realized that many terms are defined differently, depending on the context. And further, it’d be very helpful—like a typical dictionary—to see all the meanings for a term listed together on a page.
Searching across all sources & terms
I then saw that there are many excellent legal glossaries already published on the web by authoritative sources such as the Oregon Secretary of State. However, these glossaries aren’t collected together, can be difficult to find, and can’t be searched as a group.
Result: a document greater than its parts
By combining entries from many sources, and applying best practices for web design, the glossary offers a lot of added value when compared to each source standing alone. See the screenshots to the right for examples of,
Citations to all sources
- Searching across all terms and sources,
- Citations to all sources,
- Internal hyperlinks,
- Cross-references to relevant entries,
- Straightforward permalinks,
- Free availability under a Creative Commons license.
Findings: Works for most sources and terms
This combining-and-rehashing of definitions works very well for nearly all the sources I’ve integrated. Most definitions can be separated from their larger context and still be useful. Examples are bill, plaintiff, and metes and bounds.
Cross-references to relevant entries
Definitions from the Oregon Revised Statutes, however, aren’t always so universally useful. For example, one entry for police officer reads,
“Police officer” means a police officer as described in ORS 238.005.
Semantically, this isn’t a definition per se, but rather a context or “namespace” marker. In order to handle these cases, I employ a combination of software algorithms and manual editing.
Creative Commons license