Google, The Good: Free Law!

Deven Desai

Deven Desai is an associate professor of law and ethics at the Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology. He was also the first, and to date, only Academic Research Counsel at Google, Inc., and a Visiting Fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy. He is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and the Yale Law School. Professor Desai’s scholarship examines how business interests, new technology, and economic theories shape privacy and intellectual property law and where those arguments explain productivity or where they fail to capture society’s interest in the free flow of information and development. His work has appeared in leading law reviews and journals including the Georgetown Law Journal, Minnesota Law Review, Notre Dame Law Review, Wisconsin Law Review, and U.C. Davis Law Review.

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3 Responses

  1. TJ says:

    I have never read my contract with Westlaw/Lexis, but I have always assumed that they study the searches I use and have no obligation to keep it confidential. Is there something different on the client confidentiality front between using Google to search and using Lexis/Westlaw?

  2. RJ says:

    Freudian slip? The first sentence should probably read, “I do think that *not* all The Google does is bad.”

  3. Deven Desai says:


    Newman! And thanks for the catch.


    There are a number of things one may want to study further. At first glance, I’d note that you do not have the same type of relationship with a search engine that you do with Westlaw or Lexis. The study of the searches is a separate matter. In fact, insofar as one identifies a client for Westlaw or Lexis, the information is arguably easier to follow and then raise confidentiality questions. A public search that does not reveal the client is probably less revealing. Still I wonder whether there are ways to back out for whom the search is being done. In addition, lawyers may not want to use Google if it is easier to show a client what the research was via a third party for billing purposes.