We are all on the path to research Nirvana. Along the way we meet the true believers — many of them are my fellow librarians others are legal tech entrepreneurs. I recently had a chat with Pablo Arredondo, Co-Founder and Chief Legal Research Officer at Casetext – an intrepid fellow traveler and legal research thought leader. Arredondo is passionate about citations, algorithms and optimizing the legal research experience. Casetext has recently enhanced their algorithms to identify valuable new caselaw features and elements including: motions, causes of actions and party type which can be used as filters to narrow and focus a search.
Arredondo provided insights into the importance of these new features: “Optimal legal research systems must enable attorneys to navigate the common law along dimensions that matter. Motion at issue, underlying cause of action, and party type are three distinct dimensions that can be relevant to a given research task. Currently, attorneys are cramming this context into their search queries, which can skew results.”
The New Casetext features
- Motion Types: 3 motion types now identified (dismiss, summary judgement, compel discovery)
- Causes of Actions: 142 causes of action are now identified.
- Party Type: cases involving the top 100,000 US companies by revenue have been associated with industry or service sectors.
Similar Issues; This feature helps identify cases which deal with the same issue even if they use different terminology.
Taxonomy is Back. The legal market is full of companies competing to make their products more Google like. I find Google – annoyingly broad and brutally imprecise. It is often useful for a quick fact check for locating a restaurant address — but is woefully inadequate in high stakes situations where high precision is required. Despite the mythical “google” ideal, all of the major legal research companies have invested in adding or maintaining taxonomies to improve research results. Thomson Reuters Westlaw was developed around West Publishing Company’s taxonomy “Outline of American Law.” Lexis has used SmartIndexing technology to add filters and topics. Bloomberg recently released an AI created “points of law” enhancement.
Casetext launched in 2013 and offers full text primary case law research free for all. The full Casetext platform is available free for law students and the judiciary. Other subscribers such as law firms and corporations pay an annual fee for access to the full platform. In the six years their launch they have continued to develop sophisticated features which allow them to compete with the dominant legal research vendors. In addition they have developed unique functionality in CARA which enables a lawyer to drop and drag a brief into the CARA search engine to identify missing precedent.