For University of Pittsburgh law professor Bernard Hibbitts, "The fun never stops!" Hibbitts is not only a law professor, he's also the founder, editor, and publisher of JURIST: Legal News and Research (http://jurist.law.pitt.edu), which recently won the 2006 People's Voice Webby Award for the best law Web site.
Hibbitts, who carved out a few minutes from his busy schedule to talk about JURIST, devotes most of his day to the "fun" of managing a complex Web site that's operated primarily by a staff of students, academic volunteers, and commentators from around the world.
Some of those commentators include bloggers, academics, and lawyers from both sides of the current conflict between Israelites and Hezbollah. The ability to get content and comment from both sides of a conflict or issue, enhance that content, and publish it without bias is the hallmark of what makes JURIST a unique and respected legal content provider on the Web. From Feb. 19 to March 20 of this year alone, JURIST counted about 920,000 user sessions by nearly 300,000 unique individuals from more than 70 countries.
That's not bad for a Web site that was created on a cold, Pittsburgh morning in February 1996 by a man known primarily as a law professor and legal historian. Hibbitts, a native of Nova Scotia, Canada, was educated at Dalhousie Law School, the University of Toronto, Harvard Law School, and Oxford University. His pre-JURIST work was focused primarily on legal history, with a particular interest in exploring law and communication.
A Broad, Empty Canvas
Hibbitts began to look at how different media influenced the ideas and practice of law. In the early 1990s, he became aware of the World Wide Web, which he saw as a "huge, broad, empty canvas" with enormous potential for instant, international, multimedia communication. Hibbitts' research had shown him the frustrations of print, particularly for …