(Elizabeth Davidson reports ). A NEW reference system known as 'metadata' has been launched, which operates on a 'concept' basis, allowing lawyers to locate relevant legal information simply by keying in a phrase connected to it into their laptops.
The system was developed by Sweet & Maxwell over two years, at a cost of £2m, and has now been launched as a CD-Rom series entitled Connections.
Metadata is used to describe key words which express concepts contained in a paragraph. An expert in the field has thoroughly sifted through the information and indexed the contents according to subject matter, in a similar way to the use of sub-headings and synopses in textbooks.
The person using the service uses a function called 'Search for material about...' and can search using legal concepts as well as words and phrases.
Sweet & Maxwell's Connections series includes CD-Roms on landlord and tenant law, criminal law and current legal information.
A further six are due to be published this year.
Legal publishers are increasingly expanding their digital products in place of paper forms - following the example of the US where some legal publishers have stopped producing information in paper formats altogether.
Sweet & Maxwell sales and marketing director Alina Lourie said: 'We anticipate that digital products will encompass 50 per cent of our business within the next 10 years.'