A good friend of mine and co-author of two ABA books, Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet, 2nd and 3rd editions, Rick Klau, works at Google. We used to be in the same industry, but he took a divergent fork in the road and ended up at the big G.
Just after midnight Central Time he announced to my alliance (industry consulting friends -- more about the allies in another post) that he's been working on a new venture, "Google Scholar." Here is what Rick said: "45 minutes ago, Google Scholar launched 80+ years of federal caselaw, and 50+ years of state caselaw. For the first time in US history, citizens have the ability to search the full text of all state and federal opinions. Those opinions are hyperlinked, allowing you to navigate from one opinion to the next; each opinion includes a "how cited" tab showing you which other opinions cited the opinion, along with the key quotes used to cite to the opinion."
This reminds me of a conversation I had with a former Deputy GC at Alcoa who said that he spent very little hiring outside law firms around the U.S., because most of what he needed to build important litigation arguments was on the Internet. That was several years ago. This comment was made in a forum of inside and outside counsel. The outside firm representatives were all from AmLaw 100 firms--they reacted with the expected "harumph."
The launch of Google Scholar ensures that this coveted caselaw will be even easier (and cheaper) to access.