January/February 2012
Is UELMA coming to a state near you?

Are government-hosted legal resources on the Web official and capable of being considered authentic? A 2007 study by the American Association of Law Libraries asked that question and found that in most cases the answer was “no.” This finding led to development of the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA). The act recently won approval from the Uniform Law Commission and attempts to address the migration of state primary materials from print to online. In some cases, states are moving to online-only access, yet the sites for such materials are not always stable, accessible, or reliable. Often there is no language indicating that the online materials are official or to what degree they can be relied on.

UELMA requires states who want to post primary legal materials online to:

• Authenticate them by providing a method to determine that it is unaltered

• Preserve them in either electronic or print form

• Ensure permanent accessibility by the public

The American Association of Law Librarians is currently promoting UELMA to the following states in order to create some momentum: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Tennessee. Bills to enact UELMA were just introduced in Tennessee, Colorado, and California. The American Bar Association also endorsed the model law by approving Resolution 102B and determined that “UELMA addresses the critical need to manage electronic legal information in a manner that guarantees the trustworthiness of and continuing access to important state legal material.”