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Harvard Law Wins Webby, Quinn Emanuel an Honoree

May 1, 2015, 2:11 PM

Harvard Law School’s Perma.cc — a website dedicated to keeping internet URLs operable — has won the Webby Award for best legal site of 2015.

Perma.cc, a website for organizations in the “forever” business, is an online preservation site that tackles the problem of inoperable links, a phenomena known as “link rot,” which can undermine research by scholars and courts. It was developed by Harvard Law School Library in conjunction with university law libraries nationwide.

Project Manager Adam Ziegler explained that link rot is “hugely damaging” to legal scholarship, noting that prior to Perma.cc’s 2013 launch, Harvard researchers determined that half of the links in all U.S. Supreme Court opinions no longer worked and more than 70 percent of law journal links were defunct.

[caption id="attachment_1819" align="alignleft” width="372"][Image “https://www.flickr.com/photos/withassociates/" (src=https://bol.bna.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/3274283385_6b976c489c_o.png)]Photo by With Associates (Flickr/Creative Commons)[/caption]

Perma.cc promises “to create citation links that will never break” by allowing users to create links to archived versions of web pages cited in their work.

“It is an application that provides a solution to a real, concrete problem,” Ziegler told Big Law Business. The site was also the subject of a New Yorker feature, “The Cobweb,” written by Jill Lepore, a professor of American History at Harvard University.

Over the last 20 months Perma.cc has enabled the creation of nearly 100,000 permanent links, Harvard Library Innovation Lab director Kim Dulin told Big Law Business, and garnered participation by 91 law libraries and nearly 300 legal journals.

In addition, Dulin said, a growing number of courts are joining the collaborative effort. Perma.cc is currently used by the court systems of Michigan, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maryland and the Virgin Islands, she said.

Ziegler said Perma.cc “is cool in that it reflects a cross-disciplinary effort,” bringing together experts from the fields of law, computer technology and law libraries.

He and Dulin said their team is “thrilled” by the win, though they’re grappling with paring their acceptance speech down to five words, as required by the Webby Awards for the presentation ceremony May 18 in New York City.

Quinn Emanuel was a Webby honoree forits website.

Lisa Steward, who oversaw Quinn’s website design and is a project manager at SPINX Digital, said that “knowing your audience and what they’re looking for” is essential for an effective legal site.

Steward said the Quinn’s site is divided into four major categories: practice areas, attorney bios, career opportunities and “about the firm.” Each of these draws a different audience, from a law student checking out a prospective employer to a client therefore the user needs for each category are different, she said.

In addition, Steward pointed to the site’s use of colorful graphics and images as a key feature. Content is key, she said, but it has to be leavened with interesting visual components to draw the audience in.