Thomas Bruce

Director, Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School

Ithaca, New York Area
Information Services
  1. Legal Information Institute,
  2. Southern African Institute for Policy and Research (SAIPAR),
  3. Springer Law, Governance and Technology series
  1. Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction,
  2. Hague Conference on Private International Law,
  3. Committee on House Administration, US House of Representatives
  1. Yale University School of Drama
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Director of applied-research program in legal information publishing aimed at increasing public understanding of law. Web pioneer with a long track record in Internet technology as it applies to open-access information, particularly in the legal field. Author of first Web browser for the Microsoft Windows platform.

Interested in use of technology to increase public understanding of law for both individual and business purposes, with special interest in semantic-web applications, metadata, and search.

Likes building furniture, and web apps.

Specialties: metadata design, project management, software engineering, research direction, legal information architecture, public information policy



Legal Information Institute
– Present (22 years 9 months)Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

The Legal Information Institute is a pre-eminent "law not com", providing free legal information to a global audience of over 26 million individuals from 236 countries and territories each year. It is a well-respected leader in legal informatics and legal publishing technology, an applied-research program affiliated with the Cornell Law School and with Cornell's Information Science program. The first open-access law site, the LII has inspired more than two dozen namesakes worldwide.

Board of Directors

Southern African Institute for Policy and Research (SAIPAR)
– Present (2 years 11 months)Lusaka

The Southern African Institute for Policy and Research (SAIPAR) is an independent educational research and development-oriented research centre. Through interdisciplinary research, publications, seminars and dialogue facilitation, SAIPAR seeks to contribute to improved policy making, research capacity and governance. SAIPAR aims to be a catalyst for new ideas and concepts on good governance and development in Southern Africa, and a documentation centre to serve as an indispensable partner on research and policy analysis.

Member, Scientific Advisory Board

Springer Law, Governance and Technology series
– Present (3 years)

Springer-Verlag series on legal informatics.


Conference Program Committees
– Present (7 years)

Reviewer of scientific papers for a number of conferences in the general area of law and computing, including:

Law via the Internet
JURIX -- the Foundation for Legal Knowledge-Based Systems
AICOL -- Artificial Intelligence Approaches to the Complexity of Legal Systems
SPLeT -- Semantic Processing of Legal Text
Semantic Web Journal


African Legal Information Institute
– Present (3 years 8 months)Johannesburg Area, South Africa

AfricanLII is an umbrella organization that promotes the establishment and operation of open-access law publishing operations throughout Southern Africa. It currently collaborates with a half-dozen national LIIs throughout the region, and is developing more.

Board of Directors

Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction
(19 years)

CALI is a consortium of more than 170 American law schools, formed for the purpose of creating courseware and other computer-assisted legal instruction materials, learning environments, and online services. It also sponsors an annual conference for information-technology professionals working in law schools, of which I am a founder.

Invited expert

Hague Conference on Private International Law
(1 month)Brussels Area, Belgium

Member of a group of 15 experts invited to participate in a joint Hague Conference/European Commission conference on improving access to foreign law.


Committee on House Administration, US House of Representatives
(1 month)Washington D.C. Metro Area

Testified on the use of XML and other open electronic standards for legislative information. Full text at:

Digital projects consultant

Harvard Law School Library
(11 years)

Consult on a variety of digitization and digital library projects, including an archive of Nuremberg Military Tribunal materials, a thirteenth century English law text (Bracton), and others.

Consultant, Global Study on Free Access to Law

(1 year)

Study of best practices and evaluation techniques for open-access legal information providers, in South Africa and India.


ABA Committee on the Status and Future of Federal e-Rulemaking
(1 year 8 months)

Blue-ribbon committee selected by the ABA Section on Administrative Law to evaluate current Federal efforts in the area of electronic notice-and-comment rulemaking, and to make recommendations for improvement and further study. Commitee report has been widely endorsed by groups concerned with open government and Federal regulation.

Invited expert

Hague Conference on Private International Law
(less than a year)

Member of an international gathering of 15 experts examining problems of finding law in other jurisdictions internationally, with an eye toward formulating an international convention on access to legal information.

Library Development Consultant (ICT)

SIDA project for Strengthening Legal Education in Vietnam
(1 year 2 months)

This project, aimed at strengthening legal education in Vietnam, was run by Lund University with funding from the Swedish International Development Agency. The library workshops were intended to assess the situation of academic law libraries in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, and to familiarize staff there with a range of potential techniques and approaches that would allow them to make full use of ICT in library development.

Senior International Fellow

University of Melbourne School of Law
(1 year 2 months)Melbourne, Australia

Teacher of intensive graduate seminar courses in Legal Information Systems

Director of Educational Technologies

Cornell Law School
(4 years)

Supervised staff of 5 computer-support technicians serving over 800 individuals. Redesign and buildout of local area networks, installation and operation of the first electronic mail systems, and so on.

Resident Stage Manager

American Repertory Theater
(1 year)

Resident stage manager for a leading regional repertory theater. Stage-managed a revival of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream at the Wilbur Theater, televised by WGBH; a production of the Brecht/Weill Seven Deadly Sins, and the world premiere of Jules Feiffer's "Grownups", as well as a widely-reviewed production of Handel's Orlando

Production Stage Manager

Texas Opera Theater
(1 year)

Production Stage Manager for the touring wing of Houston Grand Opera. Took two productions to 72 destinations in the Central and Western states as two 7-week tours.

Director of Special Technical Projects

Spoleto Festival USA
(3 years)

Lead technical/logistical troubleshooter for a large, multi-venue performing arts festival in Charleston, South Carolina, producing opera, symphony performances, chamber music, live theater and a variety of other presentations and exhibits on 17 stages and performance spaces.


The continuum of metadata quality: defining, expressing, exploiting(Link)

Metadata in Practice (ALA Editions)

Description of a quality-assessment framework for metadata. Widely cited; cite list is here:



Journal of Open Access to Law
December 2013

Founding editor of professional, peer-reviewed journal for scientific and policy work related to open access to legal information.


  1. French

  2. German


  • Data Modeling
  • Information Architecture
  • Legal Documentation
  • Information Policy
  • Government information
  • Software Project...
  • Research administration
  • Sarcasm
  • Improvisational Comedy
  • Web Design
  • Government
  • Documentations
  • Project Management
  • Justice
  • Free Thinking
  • Governance
  • Legal Research
  • Policy
  • Editing
  • Library Science
  • Knowledge Management
  • Content Strategy
  • Research
  • Publishing
  • Westlaw
  • Policy Analysis
  • Library
  • English
  • Legal Writing
  • International...
  • Administrative Law
  • International Law
  • Litigation
  • Human Rights
  • Copyright Law
  • Intellectual Property
  • Cyberlaw
  • Legal Assistance
  • Licensing
  • Alternative Dispute...
  • Privacy Law
  • See 26+  See less


Code of Federal Regulations -- Electronic Edition(Link)

– Present

Electronic edition of the US Code of Federal Regulations, undertaken initially as a joint study with the US Government Printing Office (USGPO). Now an ongoing effort by the Legal Information Institute to apply Semantic Web technology to the Code of Federal Regulations.

Team members:

United States Code -- electronic edition(Link)

– Present

Begun in 1992, the LII's edition of the US Code was the first online and the first to offer a full XML edition of the USC.

Team members:

Modeling Legislative Information(Link)

Principal investigator and project lead for the creation of a legislative metadata model for all legislation and related materials held by the Library of Congress.

Cello, a web browser for Microsoft Windows(Link)

First web browser for Microsoft Windows.

Nuremberg Trials Archive(Link)

Large-scale digitization project for conversion and organization of records pertaining to the Nuremberg Trials. The first phase involved digitization and curation of records related to the Medical Case.

Team members:

Harvard Bridge Project(Link)

Pioneering project that created an alternative first-year curriculum in an online environment. Created information architecture and website implementation; domain experts were seven members of the Harvard Law School faculty. Project was sponsored by Lexis-Nexis.

Team members:
  • Thomas Bruce,
  • William Fisher,
  • Frank Michelman,
  • Todd Rakoff,
  • Martha Minow,
  • Charles Nesson,
  • Abram Chayes,
  • Morton Horwitz

Bracton Online(Link)

Online edition of a classic law text, in Latin and English.

Team members:


– Present

Guest blog aimed at bringing out new voices in legal informatics, founded by Thomas R. Bruce. Currently, Stephanie Davidson and Christine Kirchberger are co-editors-in-chief; Judith Pratt is the editor. Robert Richards is Editor-in-Chief Emeritus.

Team members:

Global study on Free Access to Law(Link)

South Africa, Burkina Faso, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Uganda, Philippines (International Development Research Centre)

Team members:

Honors & Awards

Legal Rebel

ABA Journal

Member of the inaugural class of 50 leading innovators selected by ABA Journal as the most innovative individuals in the American legal profession. They described it this way:

The legal profession is not just struggling through a recession, but also undergoing a structural break with the past. There is a growing consensus that the profession that emerges from the recession will be different in fundamental ways from the one that entered it.

More and more lawyers aren’t waiting around for change. Day by day, they're remaking their corners of the profession. These mavericks are finding new ways to practice law, represent their clients, adjudicate cases and train the next generation of lawyers. Most are leveraging the power of the Internet to help them work better, faster and different.

The Legal Rebels project is profiling these innovators and describing the changes they are making. It’s telling their stories in the ABA Journal, on this website and through a variety of social media channels using text, images, and video.

Fastcase 50 - inaugural class

Fastcase, Inc

Award for innovation in the legal profession. Here's how Fastcase described it:
"You nominated your favorite innovators, techies, visionaries, and leaders. With a fantastic group to choose from, our selection committee had its work cut out for it. We are pleased to announce the inaugural class of the Fastcase 50, the fifty most interesting, provocative, and courageous leaders in the world of law, scholarship, and legal technology. From lawyers and judges to librarians and government servants, here are your nominees and our picks for 2011."

Bert Gruver Prize

Yale School of Drama

Prize given to a YSD graduate for ability in stage management.


Yale University School of Drama

MFA, Stage management

I was trained as a professional stage manager. The program emphasized training for regional repertory theater, and the development of new plays. My own subspecialty was opera and other forms involving music. I also developed and taught a course in computer programming.

Yale University


Ithaca High School

Ithaca High School

Additional Info

  1. Interests

    • Outside of legal information and all the stuff that surrounds it: cycling,
    • opera,
    • antique woodworking tools,
    • vintage music synthesizers,
    • and anything else that makes a loud noise.
  2. Personal Details

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