The Digital Commons Law Network

Open Access has become one of the new hot topics in academic scholarship, especially in law schools. What is open access?  Well, open-access materials are digital, online, free of charge, and free from most copyright and licensing restrictions.


Did you know that in November of 2008, directors of some of the major law library players, such as the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Harvard, Stanford and Yale met in Durham at the Duke Law School to discuss open access in the legal environment?

As a result of this meeting, the “Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship” was created, calling for law schools to no longer publish in print format, instead focusing only on electronic publication in stable, open digital formats.

Since then, libraries and academic institutions have begun a movement towards the use of “institutional repositories”, which provide open access to institutional research through archiving, promote the institution as well as the scholars through the visibility of these words, collect content within a single platform and location and store and preserve additional digital assets.

While institutional repositories are developed as databases, there is almost no capacity for the reader to browse.  Repositories don’t necessarily allow connections between their own materials, much less those created and housed at other institutions.


In response to this, the leading hosted institutional repository (IR) software platform, bepress, has created the Digital Commons Law Network, which draws together open access content from nearly 300 repositories that use the Digital Commons IR platform.  Anyone with an Internet connection can access this resource, with no pay-walls, embargoes or subscriptions.  This Network currently contains almost 650,000 works from 275 institutions, with over 113,000 of these works specifically devoted to the topic of law.

The Digital Commons Network brings together scholarship from hundreds of universities and colleges, providing open access to peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, dissertations, working papers, conference proceedings, and other original scholarly work. This constantly growing body of publications is curated by university librarians and their supporting institutions, and represents thousands of disciplines and subject areas—from Architecture to Zoology.

The intuitive interface invites you to explore discipline-specific Commons, where you can view and follow popular authors, institutions, and publications in your field. And you’ll never run into pay walls or empty records, because only full-text, open-access research and scholarship are included in the network.

Check out this resource for yourself at, and explore all of the amazing resources that are available free to you, complete with search functionality and browse capacity.  

Be sure to check out our Open Access LibGuide for more information on the Open Access movement.

~Ashley Moye~

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Filed under collection, electronic resources, Libguides, Library, Of Interest to Law Students

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