Several months ago a colleague asked a group of legal information professionals if they had come up with a way to eliminate “bad” sources from news alerts. I have seen RT News – a notorious source for Russian propaganda show up in  alerts on artificial intelligence. Many law firm competitive intelligence operations rely on news aggregation platforms to curate alerts on companies, industries and issues. Platforms such as Vable, Ozmosys, Manzama and LexisNexis Newsdesk scan an ocean of daily news stories, social media and press releases in order to curate and surface stories relevant to a specific issue. To date, no aggregation platform has offered a tool for flagging or eliminating stories from “unreliable” sources. Human curation may flag bad sources but automated alerts may deliver news from a questionable source unless an alert is limited to a few reliable sources. Help may be on the way in the form of a product called NewsGuard.

NewsGuard will not rate individual stories but will evaluate the overall reliability of the news source. According to the company’s press release, NewsGuard will begin offering “reliability ratings” and news “nutrition labels”. The reliability Continue Reading Legal News Pioneer Steven Brill Takes on Fake News with NewsGuard. How Will News Aggregation Platforms Respond?

It was only eight weeks ago that Fastcase announced the axquisition of Docket Alarm. Today they are announcing the expansion of Docket Alarm to include court dockets from California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. They will also be adding docket integration with Fastcase and addition visualization tools to provide insights on litigation trends for client development and litigation strategy.

 In addition, Docket Alarm users can now move from court dockets, briefs, and pleadings into cited cases from Fastcase without a separate login. Docket Alarm is making an archive of over 200 million litigation briefs, motions, pleadings, and Continue Reading Fastcase Fastracks Launch of State Docket Analytics & New Features Following Docket Alarm Acqusition

I am honored to be speaking at several upcoming events.

Driving Analytics into Practice: A High Speed Tour of the World of Commercial Analytics, Workflow and Predictive Tools. Marcus Evans Data Utilization and Practice Innovation Conference,  Chicago, Il. March 19-21, 2018.

Using AI to Power Push, CodeX FutureLaw 2018 Conference, Palo Alto, Ca. April 5, 2018. I will be a co-panelist with Patric Di Domenico, Ogletree Deekins, Marlene Gebauer, Greenberg Traurig; Jeff Rovner, O’Melveny & Myers  on the panel moderated  by Jake Heller of Casetext.

A Whirlwind Tour of the Hits and Hyperbole in Legal Research and Workflow Products, Southeast Law Library Association Conference, Nashville, Tn., April 14, 2018  an updated version of the presentation which I did with Steve Lastres of Debevoise and Plimpton last summer at the American Association of Law Libraries conference in Austin.

Last  Thursday, Daniel Lewis, co-Founder of Ravel Law (now part of LexisNexis) gave the Keynote address at the annual Ark Best Practices & Management Strategies for Law Firm Library, Research and Information Services  conference in New York. Instead of another frothy,  sermon on the emergence of “robot lawyers,” Lewis delivered a measured analysis of the current state of AI in the legal market.  It was a dramatic counterpoint to some of the overheated  AI rhetoric reverberating througout the recent  Legal Tech conference in New York. Lewis provided a framework for understanding what AI can do today. His talk covered current AI technologies and applications. But the topic which was of greatest interest to me was the a practical outline  of  questions to ask of vendors who are selling AI enabled products.  How do you  distinguish marketing hype from reality? How do you help manage lawyer expectations after they have read about the latest “game changing” AI product — which was acquired by a peer law firm? When the talk was over I felt like standing up and cheering.  Continue Reading The Awesome Power of Understatement. Daniel Lewis On Assessing AI Products and Managing Expectations

Courtroom Insight was originally designed to as a Yelp-type directory to enable litigators to locate and share insights about expert witnesses. In a recent interview co-founder Mark Torchiana explained that since the launch in 2010 he has learned that lawyers do not want to share their comments about experts in a public forum. Courtroom Insights has evolved into the dominant internal expert witness knowledge management solution for law firms.

That transitional pivot occurred when the  Scott Rechtschaffen, The Chief Knowledge Officer at the Littler firm contacted Torchiana and asked if the product could be used to manage internal information about arbitrators. After eight years the company has become totally focused on private installations in law firms and content has expanded to include profiles of Continue Reading Courtroom Insight: Enhances Expert Witness Knowledge Management Platform

For my entire career, people have been suggesting that “the end was near” for librarians.  A  spectacularly absurd notion in a burgeoning knowledge economy. Once again the marketplace is demonstrating the versatility and value librarians  can bring to innovative knowledge organizations even in the 21st Century. Last week Kira the legal tech innovator posted a new job opening for a “Machine Learning Knowledge Analyst.” A complete description and link to the job application can be located at this link.

Here is how the job  posing in introduced:

“There is no question that for every successful law firm there is a talented group of law librarians who manage the flow of information, disseminate legal resources, and strategically support other professionals within their organization. The work that law librarians do has evolved to more than just reviewing and cataloguing resources. Kira Systems recognizes the unique skill set required to excel as a law librarian and is hiring someone with this background to work as Machine Learning Knowledge Analyst.

As a Machine Learning Knowledge Analyst you will assist in acquiring, developing and organizing contracts and related transactional documents used to train our cutting edge machine learning technology. You will report directly to the Director of Legal Knowledge Engineering and be responsible for sourcing documents through research and collaborative relationships, and organizing them into a sophisticated document taxonomy.”

Why  a Librarian ? I asked Anne McNulty, Kira’s Director of Legal Knowledge Engineering to explain why the company  executives decided that they needed the special expertise of a librarian as Machine Learning Knowledge Analyst.

“McNulty provided the following insights into the creation of this new position:

There are actually a number of challenges that led to us creating this position. First, because our software uses machine learning to identify provisions in contracts, we need a large volume of contracts (of all different types) to train it. These contracts must be carefully grouped together for the lawyers who train the system, and we need someone thoughtful and organized to make sure that the “training data” is appropriately diverse and representative of what the software will be used on. If the training data is not carefully put together, the software won’t perform as well when our customers use it.

Second, Kira has a feature that will classify contracts according to their type. We train this in a similar way to the way in which we train Kira to identify provisions – by showing Kira a number of examples. We’d like to grow the number of contract types that Kira can identify, so to do this we need someone who can help us expand on the taxonomy we have built and feed the appropriate contract types into it.

Finally, as we grow, we are starting to need contracts that are not easily available through public sources. We’d like someone to help us develop and manage relationships with partners who would share contracts with us for the purpose of training our system.”

Good luck to Kira and good luck to applicants applying for this exciting new position!


Last week Casetext released a brief new report on the future of Knowledge Management. The full report is available at this link. The report is really a “thought piece” based on a question posed to a group of knowledge leaders. The question was basically”what would you do to improve KM if you had $10 million dollars?”  The respondents highlighted a variety of challenges and recommendations.  It appears that no one has the right mix of tools, technology and resources today but there was a consistent refrain – that emerging technologies may soon appear which will help bridge some of the critical gaps between implicit, explicit, internal and external knowledge.

Respondents basically were asked; “If you had $10 Million to spend on KM, What would you do?” While lack of law firm investment in knowledge solutions is part of the problem, it is not only only obstacle to effective knowledge management in law firms.

Key findings:

  • Data Collection will be Automated
  • Data will be automatically structured
  • Legal research and KM tools will be powered by AI.

KM Departments will play an important role in bringing about these changes.

Contributors to the the report include many prominent  law law firm thought leaders including, Patrick Dundas, KM Associate, Schulte, Ross and Zable, Shabeer Kahn, Director of Research Service, Morrison & Foster, Rich McClain, Chief Information Officer, Hunton & Wiliams, Holly RIccio, Knowledge Management Director, Nossaman; Joseph Keslar, Director of Library and Research Services, Blank Rome: Gina Lynch, Director of Knowledge Services, Paul Weiss; Genevieve Nicholson, Manager of Research & Knowledge Services, Lewis Roca.

Thanks to Jake Heller, CEO of Casetext for acknowledging the challenges facing knowledge managers today and  providing them will a platform on which to share some insights into the road ahead


Thomson Reuters and Acritas has released their first annual State of Corporate Legal Departments Report. Many of the themes echo discussions at last week’s Legal Tech conference in New York. Clients are king and law firms  are trying to catch up to shifting client expectations. The report analysed data from Thomson Reuters Legal Tracker, Acritas and the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium. One of the most interesting aspects of the report for me was the focus on collecting metrics.  The suggested list includes 21 data elements which are categorized as preventive, efficient, effective or review. These metrics signal the issues which should also be of importance to law firms.

The five goals mentioned most consistently are:

In House Counsel Goals 2018

Key take aways:

  • Satisfaction with outside counsel has increased by 9% over the past 5 years.
  • Budgets for in house legal work increased 10%
  • Budgets for outside legal work decreased 6%
  • Although 53% reduced their legal roster, 43% have grown their outside counsel roster..
Acritas Spectrum of Technology and Innovation

Here is the list of key recommended metrics:

Recommended in-house counsel metrics

I met with Jeff Pfeifer, VP of Product Management at LexisNexis and Daniel Lewis,one of the co-founders of Ravel Law to review the upcoming release of Ravel content on Lexis. I reviewed Ravel Law when came to market in 2014 offering one of the most innovative approaches to legal research to hit the market in the past decade.  In addition, they had the novel idea of highlighting  judges precedential history – what cases do specific judges tend to cite for particular issues and then how do they rule?  They offered what I originally described as a constellation-like visualization of case law relationships. LexisNexis purchased Ravel in 2017 only two years after purchasing another Legal Analytics platform Lex Machina. Lexis has begun integrating Lex Machina analytics into Lexis Advance so it was not clear where the Ravel analytics would fit in. Last week at Legal Tech in New York, I received a preview of these integrations which are scheduled to  rolled out over several months beginning in March 2018.

Enhanced Shepard’s Citations


Ravel Law will Enhance Shepards Citations

In 2016 Lexis launched the search term maps feature which enables researchers to navigate to specific search terms and to see the depth of treatment of each term. With Ravel Law they are integrating Shepard’s  citations as a color wheel.

They have kept the standard Shepard’s color red- negative, yellow caution/explained, green – followed in the wheel. However since they are using those same colors in the term map which runs along the top of the case – I was originally confused and though the red in the term map  was connected to the Shepard’s history. I suggest that Lexis give this issue more thought.

 Ravel’s Search Visualization

Ravel’s search visualizations have been simplified and now include colored dots using the Shepard’s history indicators in the search visualization map.

Ravel Visuaizaton in Lexis Advance


6 Million Caselaw Images

Until now, Lexis has not had access to case law images. When LexisNexis bought Ravel they got access to the “Free the Law” archive  arising from  the 2015 Harvard Law School-Ravel Law collaboration .

According to Pfeifer, the Harvard case law archive will load more than 500,00 new cases into Lexis. In addition, over 6 million case reporter images will be available to lawyers who want an original reporter page to examine or attach as an image to a court filing.

Harvard Case Law Images on Lexis

Coming Soon 

Ravel’s judge, law firm and case law analytics are scheduled to be added to Lexis Advance and Lexis Profiler over the coming months. In addition, they are working on an expert witness enhancement providing analytics on expert witness challenge history.

The market has a strong interest in products which streamline expert witness research, so this feature will be welcomed by litigators.

Thomson Reuters is coming to Legal Week in New York with a Watson enabled Data Privacy product to show off at the annual legal technology conference. Today they are announcing the launch of a sophisticated global data privacy product which provides news, regulatory comparison charts, commentary and a Watson Enabled AI product that answers questions.  This is the first legal product to be produced by the Thomson Reuters- IBM Watson collaboration  which was announced In October 2016. Thomson Reuters is buttressing the importance of this product by simultaneously releasing the “Thomson Reuters Survey of Data Privacy Compliance.” According to the survey “data compliance” costs the average U.S. organization $2.1 M/yr.   64% of U.S. survey respondents have faced a privacy enforcement action and 52% report that they are struggling to keep up with privacy regulations. In addition the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation which goes into effect in May 2018 will further complicate the regulatory environment.

The Data Privacy Advisor

The Data Privacy Advisor was designed for data privacy experts at multinational law firms and organizations facing data privacy compliance, incident response and litigation.

Features include:

  • Global statutory and regulatory materials including pending legislation and regulations, data privacy country guides for 80+ jurisdictions, the full GDPR library, and Practical Law know-how content directed to global legal and program management issues. This contact can be browsed or queried with keywords or explored using “ask Watson.” In addition, users can generate jurisdictional comparison charts for specific issues.
  • Ask Watson a Question   IBM Watson-enabled technology that allows users to ask relevant “natural language” questions and receive a full-sentence answer
  • Curated news analysis and content from over 800 date privacy blogs.
  • Related Concepts  a feature designed to help users discover additional insights that otherwise might go unnoticed, also enabled by Watson.

    Ask Watson a Question

The Ask Watson a Question feature was trained by experts to answer thousands of question/answer pairs. “Our first step was to teach Watson the language of law,” said Khalid Al-Kofahi, vice president of Research Development at Thomson Reuters and head of its Center for Cognitive Computing. A combination of attorney editors from the Thomson Reuters Practical Law team and research scientists, taught Watson to understand the nuance of legal concepts from simple definitions, such as “parties” or “organizations,” to data privacy “terms of art.” During the training process, more than 60,000 Q&A pairs generated by Watson were “graded” by privacy professionals as well as Thomson Reuters and IBM Watson experts. This iterative process helped the system learn and provide increasingly refined responses. “Adding the AI capability from Watson to our own in-house AI expertise made a true collaboration between our teams to help Watson understand the law and the context of the questions – not just memorize the questions and answers – so the platform truly helps data privacy professionals find the answers they need,” Al-Kofahi added. Watson has been trained on data privacy issues in 84 jurisdictions. Answers  are accompanied by a confidence rating. The caveat is that many questions don’t have single sentence answers. Answers are accompanied by related concepts for researchers to explore.

Innovation has been our lifeblood for more than 100 years,” said Susan Taylor Martin, president of the Thomson Reuters Legal business. “Data Privacy Advisor is a great example of how we’ve brought together our global content, domain expertise and distinctive technology to meet the needs of legal and compliance professionals.”

The Data Privacy Advisor will be a standalone product for specialists and will be sold in the U.S. U.K. and Canadian markets.

What Questions Can You Ask this Product – Managing Customer Expectations

How is this different from Westlaw Answers?   In 2016 Westlaw  released a  new feature called Westlaw Answers which does not involve any cognitive technology. It was created by human editors at Thomson Reuters who identified common state level “black letter law” question and answer pairs. A natural language inquiry provides an answer statement which  which links to a primary source. Westlaw Answers  Westlaw has provided provided some fairly clear parameters regarding the type of questions appropriate for Westlaw Answers. Westlaw Answers can provide  answers to  state law questions such as identifying  judicially defined terms , statutes of limitations and “black letter” law.

I did not come away from the Data Privacy Advisor demo with a clear understanding of the type of questions the “Ask Watson” feature can handle. Al-Kofahi’s responded that Watson cannot provide answers to complex questions. By implication this means that it can answer simple questions, but what type of simple questions. A word of advice –  I recommend managing customer expectations by providing some clarity around the right kind of questions to ask Watson. But even for complex questions, the product will deliver the most relevant documents.


Legal AI is Not a Slam DunkThis should be obvious with the low numbers of AI enabled legal research products on the market. In a prior post “Dear Watson, I have a Question for You!…... I noted the complexity of law which lacks a  taxonomy of  universally defined terms — unlike medicine where the symptoms of a disease do not vary by state or country. In the U, S, each state has it’s own definitions which are defined in statutes, regulations and case law. Now expand that to the world… and you begin to see the brain numbing challenge of legal AI.  It is no mean feat that TR and Watson have developed  a Question and Answer product that has learned the statutes and regulations of 89 jurisdictions — on  slice of law as complex as “data privacy.”

Competition Thomson Reuters is not the first legal publisher to tackle data privacy. They may well have leapfrogged to the top of the heap by being the first to offer a product enhanced with AI. Several months ago Wolters Kluwer released it’s Cybersecurity and & Privacy Law Suite. BloombergBNA Law launched  Bloomberg Law:Privacy and Data Security in 2015. In addition, a number of Amlaw 100 law firms including DLA Piper, Hogan Lovells and Hunton & Williams, have also developed specialized data protection apps.