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Today Gavelytics and CourtCall are announcing a  partnership that will accelerate the adoption of the Gavelytics judicial analytics platform in a whole new market. CourtCall was established in 1995 and was inspired by — a lawyer who got stuck in traffic on his way to court and decided that  there ought to be a better way . Court Call has developed a remote appearance platform creating an organized  and voluntary way for attorneys to appear for routine matters in civil family, criminal, probate, bankruptcy, worker’s compensation another cases— from their offices homes or other locations.

Gavelytics is currently only available in California, but the company is preparing to launch its AI-driven data visualization tool in other key state court jurisdictions, including Florida, Texas and Illinois. Gavelytics uses AI to identify and visualize patterns and tendencies in judicial decision-making. The CourtCall judicial analytics product will launch in Continue Reading Gavelytics Partners with CourtCall to Drive Analytics into the Small Firm Market While Expanding Nationwide and Adding Enterprise Content for Large Law Market

In recent months Bloomberg BNA has been introducing changes to the format, timing and delivery of their various publications and platforms. Some newsletters are being discontinued, some newsletters are being merged into channels, other newsletters will only be available in a practice center, some practice centers will only be available on the Bloomberg Law platform. For a company that wowed the market with their promise of simplified, standard pricing, the Bloomberg Law acquisition of the Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) has become a multi-year content  migration Continue Reading Bloomberg BNA Editor in Chief Outlines Reorganization and Layoffs– Shifts in Content Strategy

Last week Texas Lawyer reported that by the end of 2018 Texas will make its state court records and documents system re:searchTX  available to the general public— similar to the way the federal government does it through Pacer.
The re:searchTX system actually launched in February 2017 with limited access for judges court clerks and attorneys of record. The system has provided access to documents in their own cases. The Texas Supreme Court is now expanding Open access two attorneys or other registered users. The news story seems to indicate that anyone including researchers can get access by registering.

Continue Reading Texas Expands Access to State Court Dockets and Documents: Impact on Analytics Market Not So Clear

Intelligize  which offers a sophisticated platform for securities law research has added a new Accounting Standards and Guidance Module.

The new module features:

  • Benchmarking of financial disclosures
  • Analytical views to quickly identify filing and disclosure characteristics
  • Trending accounting topics
  • Intelligize Filtering and tagging
  • Accounting Memos and guidance handbooks from “the big four” accounting firms
Intelligize Accounting Standards & Guidance

The Intelligize Accounting Module  improves legal workflow:

  • Tracking and preparing for FASB  rule changes.
  • Researching and bench-marking market standards impact on financial reporting.
  • Understanding how new accounting standard impact financial reporting.
  • Finding SEC comment letters and responses related to FASB changes
  • Discovering precedent language for new business areas
  • Collaborating on accounting policies and discover langues
  • Identifying on what’s trending in relation to FASB rule updates and proposals.

Access

The Accounting Standards Module is available to Intelligize subscribers as an “add on” subscription. Since the content is licensed from a third party, it is not available via IP authentication. Access  is available  only to a defined  group of individuals.

Phil Brown, The Chief of Strategy at Intelligize provides insight into use of the Accounting Module in his post “The Struggle is Real: Drafting Financial Disclosures in the Wake of Accounting Rule Changes.”

American Lawyer Media (or more precisely, Steven Brill the founder of the American Lawyer) pioneered the collection of law firm data in the mid-1980’s with the publication of the first Amlaw 100 list.  For better or for worse, the  ALM rankings have driven decision making in the legal market for almost 40 years. I wrote an historical review of ALM in the last time ALM was sold to an investor consortium the Wasserstein Group in 2014 . I am happy to see that the new owners have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to leveraging ALM’s unique data assets to help law firms navigate Continue Reading American Lawyer Media Releases Law Firm Merger and Lateral Modeling Tool: Let the Scenario Planning Begin

 

I will be doing a presentation with colleague Stacy Pangilinan entitled: Why Are We Paying for That? Reinventing the Budget Process with Project Management and KM Principles.”

 

 

The conference has assembled a roster of well known legal KM experts. who will focus on the intersection of KM with AI, Blockchain, cybersecurity, gamification, analytics, project management and other law firm management issues.

The program will be held at New York Law School in lower Manhattan on October 23 and 24th.

Here is a link to the brochure and registration information.

 

I have lately been puzzling over the fact that LexisNexis has through acquisition and alliance, built a virtual monopoly on legal news (Law360. ALM, Wall Street Journal, MLex, Newsdesk).  Now here’s the irony their main competitors Thomson Reuters Westlaw and BloombergBNA are both  owned by news companies!  Both  companies also  publish legal news. BloombergBNA has a serious newsletter business and TR  has a variety of  newsy publications and alerts – but neither has made a dent in the Lexis dominance of what I would call “water cooler” legal news. I can’t help but wonder if Lexblog’s free news service  aggregating the expertise of the legal community might create be the disruptor. Lexblog was founded in 2004 by Kevin O’Keefe. He recently hired attorney and news veteran Bob Ambrogi as Editor in Chief of Lexblog. I plan to stay tuned. Here is the press release:

 

LexBlog Launches Global Legal News and Commentary Platform

Seattle, Wash.—Sept. 10, 2018—​LexBlog today launched a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive, global news
and commentary network, delivering timely and targeted articles from legal bloggers throughout the
world. Any legal blogger is invited to add a feed to the network, and any reader is free to access the
network, with no subscription or payment required.

Some 19,000 legal bloggers already participate in the network, which features both curated and
real-time posts from lawyers, law professors, law librarians, law students, legal-industry executives, legal
marketers, legal consultants, legal technologists and others, providing news, insights and analysis on
virtually every legal and practice topic.

Powering the network is LexBlog’s custom-built syndication engine that allows it to aggregate blog
content from any source, regardless of whether the blog is hosted by LexBlog on its own blogging
platform or externally on any other blogging platform.

Any legal blog hosted by LexBlog is automatically included, and any other legal blogger can add a blog to
the network, at no cost, by registering the blog’s RSS feed at: www.lexblog.com/join.
“At a time when other legal news sites are reducing coverage and erecting paywalls, we’re providing an
alternative that is free to use, constantly updated, and expansive in coverage,” said Kevin O’Keefe,
LexBlog’s founder and CEO. “Legal bloggers are the citizen journalists of law and our network is bringing
their work to the readers who will most benefit from it.”

The network includes:
● Featured articles curated by LexBlog editors throughout the day.
● Real-time feeds of all articles from member blogs across the world.
● Real-time feeds of targeted articles arranged by legal channels.
● RSS and email subscriptions to channel and blog updates.
● Profiles of each blogger, including the blogs to which they contribute and their recent posts.
● Profiles of the law firms and institutions that publish blogs, including all the blogs they support, all their blog authors, and the recent posts from across all their blogs.

Content published through the network receives additional exposure through publication to the
Fastcase legal research service and through bar association publishing portals.
“The wealth of original writing and reporting from legal blogs is staggering,” said Robert Ambrogi,
LexBlog’s publisher and editor-in-chief. “For legal professionals, there is immeasurable value in having
unlimited access to timely articles targeted to their practices and interests.”
Today’s launch is just the first phase of the new LexBlog.com. Future plans include greater curation of
channel pages, expanded original content and coverage, and special-focus publications. In addition,
LexBlog will license and deploy its syndication and aggregation platform to law firms, bar associations,
law schools and other organizations to power their own custom publishing.

About LexBlog
Founded in 2004 to empower lawyers to increase their visibility and accelerate their business
relationships through blogging, LexBlog today is the hub that brings together many of the best legal
minds on the web. Its platform powers more than 19,000 legal bloggers and over half of the nearly 1,000
blogs published by the 200 largest U.S. firms.

Contact:
Robert Ambrogi

Publisher and editor-in-chief Founder and CEO
bob@lexblog.com kevin@lexblog.com
(978) 317-0972 (206) 340-8204

The first email comment I received regarding yesterday’s blogpost on the  Casetext / National Legal Research Group report was from longtime legal publishing/technology veteran Richard Reiben. Reiben observed that just as the eskimos are reported to have 50 words for snow –  he suggested we need ” 50 words for AI.”  I agree, it may be time for legal tech to develop a more nuanced and precise taxonomy for the host of “smart” technologies and systems which are hidden beneath the AI Cliché. Gartner Group famously defined the “hype cycle” which diagrammed the cycle where technologies fall from “inflated expectations” to the “trough of disillusionment.” A new language of AI might accelerate our rebound to the “plateau of productivity”

The report issued by Casetext and the National Legal Research Group continued to stir controversy. At Lexis request NLRG issued a statement clarifying their involvement in the AI study. Below is the response that Lexis received from an executive at NLRG.

 NLRG Response LexisNexis  sent an inquiry about the NLRG study directly to the NLRG Group and  received  the following response to their inquiry:  “Our participation in the study primarily involved providing attorneys as participants in a study that was initially designed by Casetext.  We did not compile the results or prepare the report on the study—that was done by Casetext.”

Lexis Response Lexis also offered an official response to the study from Jeff Pfeifer, VP of Product Research at LexisNexis:

LexisNexis has reviewed the referenced ‘study’ conducted by National Legal Research Group, Inc. and we have significant concerns with the methodology and sponsored nature of the project.  

First and foremost, the relationship between National Legal Research Group, Inc. and Casetext for the work should have been disclosed. Second, the methods used are far removed from those employed by an independent lab study. In the survey in question, Casetext directly framed the research approach and methodology, including hand-picking the litigation materials the participants were to use.  

In response to an inquiry from LexisNexis, John Buckley, President of National Legal Research Group, responded: “Our participation in the study primarily involved providing attorneys as participants in a study that was initially designed by Casetext.  We did not compile the results or prepare the report on the study—that was done by Casetext.” Nowhere is this relationship disclosed in the report paper nor is the report labeled as work-product of Casetext.  

Third, NLRG participants were also ‘trained’ in the use of Casetext prior to the test. With only a brief introduction to Lexis Advance, it was presumed that all participants already had a basic familiarity with Lexis Advance and all of its AI-enabled search features.

From the limited information presented in the paper, the actual search methods used by study participants do not appear to be in line with user activity on Lexis Advance.  References to ‘Boolean’ search is not representative of results generated by machine learning-infused search on Lexis Advance.  

We are confident that users of Lexis Advance and its advanced search capabilities, Lexis Answers service, Ravel View data visualization and other AI-infused solutions are well-served by our platform.

Casetext Response to Lexis:  I recieved the following comment from Casetext CEO, Jake Heller, regarding the Lexis criticism of the report. “We stand by the study; we appreciate that Lexis wishes the results were otherwise. Attorneys can judge the benefits of CARA A.I. for themselves by signing up for a free trial of Casetext. If Lexis would like to conduct their own study, we will gladly make a free Casetext account available for the duration of the experiment. ”

The Challenge of Measuring Comparative Value On the one hand I hate to vilify Casetext for trying to measure the impact of their CARA product on research efficiency. At least they tried… most vendors never get that far. On the other hand – if you are going to undertake a study – make it transparent and appeal to the experts — not the novices who can be confused by the hype. In early 2017,  Ross commissioned  a  legal research study by Blue Hill Research  Artificial Intelligence in Legal Research which in my opinion was full of laughable inconsistencies and improbable conclusions. The “whopper” that comes to mind is that they used “expert” legal researchers who had never used the  Lexis or Westlaw research systems.  When I saw that the Casetext study focused only on Lexis and lacked comparisons with other research systems, my brain went on high alert. The Casetext co-founders Jake Heller explained that they  focused on one system in order to reduce the cost of the study. But unfortunately the narrow  focus only reduced the report’s credibility. I saw another “red flag” embedded in the last  survey question which described Casetext as an adjunct to a “primary research tool”  (Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg Law, Fastcase.)

In other words Casetext was not actually suggesting that CARA could replace a major legal research system – although someone unfamiliar with the legal research ecosystem – might conclude that from the title and text of the report. There was no need to suggest otherwise—even by omission. CARA offers a unique research solution “brief as query” which offers real efficiencies in specific research scenarios.

 

 

Today Casetext released a study it commissioned which by attorneys at the National Legal Research Group Inc.Study is titled “The Real Impact of Using Artificial Intelligence in Legal Research.” But is that really what the study is measuring? I think not. While some of the conclusions may be valid  – I have a recoil reflex when I smell ‘the fog of hype” which sadly hovers around so many discussions of legal AI.

 

I spoke to  CARA co-founders CEO, Jake Heller and Pablo Arredondo, Chief Legal Research Officer. Throughout the conversation Heller repeatedly referred to  the Casetext CARA product offering as “contextualized research. ”  While I am not surprised that CARA can deliver research efficiencies, I am disappointed that they are promoting a report with such a misleading title. My conclusion is that this research study could benefit from some contextualizing.

AI is Not the Real Basis of Comparison. All the major online research systems from Lexis, Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg and Fastcase  use some form of  a proprietary AI  system in generating search results. So the study isn’t comparing AI versus non-AI, it is comparing the outcomes from two completely different approaches to legal research using AI.

The study  is comparing what I would call “search statement” research vs “document based” research. CARA is famous for pioneering a method which they call “document as query “research. In the CARA system the algorithm examines an entire document such as brief or a complaint and extracts and weights key legal, factual, jurisdictional, procedural elements. These results can be refined and focused with additional keywords.

All of the other major research systems currently rely primarily on some form of search query whether it is a natural language question  or a Boolean query. But those results are enhanced with proprietary algorithms, citation systems and increasingly… analytics.

Does Legal Research = Caselaw Research?
One more caveat. Study seems to assume that lawyers only do caselaw research not statutory or regulatory research and that they always have a document in hand outlining the issues. Do lawyers never do research starting from scratch? In those alternate scenarios CARA would not deliver the efficiencies  described in the report.

Now that that’s out-of-the-way, here are the highlights.

Attorneys  using Casetext Cara reported  finishing their research projects on average 24.5% faster than attorneys using Lexis. The study says that the average attorney would save 132 to 210 hours of legal research per year. As I pointed out above, I suspect that savings is based on the assumption that lawyers only do case law research and they ever have to conduct original research from scratch. So the actual hours saved using CARA may be lower when adjustments are made for other types of research.

Attorneys using CARA rated the results as being on average 21% more relevant when compared to the results of using Lexis. This clearly is one of CARA‘s strengths because “their document as query” approach automatically extracts and weights factual issues  such as the types of parties,  the jurisdiction and procedural posture.

45% of the attorneys believe they would’ve missed important or critical presidents if they had only done traditional legal research.

75% of the attorneys preferred their research experience on Casetext over LexisNexis®

Keep the Studies Coming. I do applaud Casetext’s effort to quantify research outcomes in real life. For too long lawyers and  information professionals have selected systems based on price and content rather than demonstrated efficiencies. Professor Susan Nevelow Mart‘s recent studies on search algorithms have no doubt incentivized vendors to conduct controlled studies. I would like to see more studies like the Casetext/NLRG study – but they should avoid the lure of simplistic AI hype and contextualize the outcomes.

The late Senator John McCain

One of the great things about living in a place like Washington, DC is that you get to meet  members of Congress and Department  Agency Heads in the course of an ordinary day. You meet them at parties, you ride with them in elevators, they are your neighbors, they attend your church, you pass them jogging on the Mall or along the C&O Canal and they often  visit law firms. I am happy to have met not only Senator McCain, but also his remarkable 106 year old mother Roberta and his lesser known brother Joe.

Although Senator John McCain (R- Arizona) was a famously lax student, he became an avid reader and favored history and biography. Like McCain I also favor those two genres. Below is  a list of books by and about  the late Senator.

Books By John McCain

  • Hard call: great decisions and the extraordinary people who made them
  • The restless wave: good times just causes great fights and other appreciations
  • Worth fighting for: a memoir
  • Faith of my fathers: a family memoir
  • Character is destiny: inspiring stories we should all remember 
  • Why courage matters: the way to a braver life
  • Last letters home
  • World war two for kids: a history with 21 activities

 Books About  John McCain

  • John McCain and American odyssey by Robert Timberg
  • John McCain: an American hero by John Perritano
  • Six years in the Hanoi Hilton: an extraordinary story of courage in survival in Vietnam by Amy Shively hawk
  • The Nightingale Song By Mark Shields (Recommended by a reader of this blog as one of the best books he ever read.  About “courage and cowardice, honor and betrayal, suffering and death and the human spirit” interweaving stories of John McCain, James Webb, Oliver North, Robert McFarland and John Poindexter.)

Presidential Campaigns

  • John McCain: speeches from the 2008 presidential campaign trail by Forest Rees
  • Mccains promise: aboard the straight talk express with John McCain by David Foster Wallace
  • Game change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin and the race of a lifetime by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin

“The McCain Papers”  Archive at ASU

In 2012,  the late Sen. John McCain donated his papers to Arizona State University. The archive, known simply as the McCain Collection, is expected to grow dramatically over the next few months. More than 800 boxes of his materials — records, photographs, correspondence — await shipment from his offices in Maryland and Washington, D.C., to ASU Library, where they will be accessible to scholars, historians and the public for generations to come.

Read interview with ASU archivist Renee James  discussing McCain archives here.

Condolences to his families and friends on the passing of a remarkable man.