A Home for Legal Open Source
The Merlin Legal Open Source Foundation strives to foster education about the benefits of open source software; provide a central platform for legal professionals to collaborate on open source development projects; and distribute open source software under free license to individuals and organizations around the world.
Our goal is to improve access to justice and to make legal and regulatory processes more efficient and effective through the use of open source software and secure cloud computing.
The Merlin Foundation is a non-profit corporation that has filed with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to be recognized as a tax exempt educational organization under section 501(c)(3). As of October 27, 2019, the IRS has not yet ruled on the registration request.
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“At its heart, open source is about collaboration. What makes it so powerful is that people can come together worldwide to develop and release free, fully featured software tailored to legal needs”
Mary Mack | CEO of EDRM
The Merlin Foundation is new but its founders are not. We are a group of legal and technology professionals who have been building, using and supporting software for legal and compliance functions for more than a quarter century. During that time, we have watched the market evolve from desktop to network computing and ultimately to hosted software over the Internet.
We have also seen legal and and regulatory requirements increase in both scope and complexity, straining existing response capabilities to the breaking point. And, we have seen compliance requirements expand from the U.S. to every corner of the globe.
The Next Phase
We formed the Merlin Foundation to help move the profession to the next phase of legal computing. The open source movement has revolutionized software development across the computing world. The Internet runs on open source, from the Linux operating system, to Apache web servers, to mySQL databases, and Lucene search engines. Most software is developed using open source programming languages. While proprietary software still exists, there are free, open source analogs for nearly every application, often with equal or better features.
The open source movement is built around collaboration. Legal professionals and technologists from all parts of the world can work together under the open source banner to develop software we can all use for free to improve the delivery of legal services. Law firms can work together to develop standards-based software that will help them deliver their services to clients more effectively. Law departments across companies with common regulatory needs can work together to develop software that will help them better comply. Clients and consumers can benefit from software designed to help them with legal needs.
Competition or Collaboration?
We realize that corporations and law firms are competitors with respect to products and services. While open source may address some of those needs, its true strength is in improving those areas where organizations don’t compete. Regulations affect all organizations and must be met. Properly developed open source software can help everyone in the industry meet those requirements, leaving them free to compete with respect to their core businesses. Corporate legal can work together on these non-core projects. So can law firms by collaborating on open source software development.
Join us as we write this next page in legal technology history. We seek legal technology innovators and disruptors from around the world with a passion for improving access to justice and making legal and regulatory compliance more efficient and cost effective.