I have been following Fastcase since 2011 when I wrote a blogpost, highlighting their innovative approach to legal research which included visual timelines and a feature called “foresight” that identified relevant precedent without relying on keywords. Fastcase was the brainchild of co-founders  Ed Walters and Phil Rosenthal, former big law associates who were driven by a passion to “democratize the law.”

Since 2011, I have written an astonishing 49 stories on my blog tracking Fastcase’s various upgrades, acquisitions and alliances.  Acquisitions include: Casemaker, Loislaw, Docket Alarm, Judicata’s “Legal genome,” TopForm, Next Chapter and Law Street Media. They expanded business intelligence, legal treatises, expert witness profiles, and corporate content by entering alliances with a host of companies, including Courtroom, Insight, JurisPro, the ABA, TransUnion, James Publishing , The Practicing Law Institute, Littler, Wolters, Kluwer, and Association of Immigration Lawyers and Matterhorn.

A year ago this month cast Fastcase merged with vLex,  the international research platform. I was really excited to talk to Ed Walters, Chief Strategy Officer at vLex and get his take on the vLex merger as well as the state of the legal tech market, advice for entrepreneurs and teaching robot law to next generation of lawyers.

O’Grady: It is a year since Fastcase merged with vLex. Has it been a win-win for both companies?

Walters: Fastcase was very successful as a 24-year-old bootstrapped company. We had not gotten a lot of outside financing, and we had grown Fastcase incrementally and responsibly as a profitable company. At the beginning of 2023 it was pretty clear, that we were coming into an age where “speed to market” and artificial intelligence were going to be more important than ever, and candidly, we just didn’t have the resources to compete as an independent, slow-growth company.

Continue reading on LegalTech HubContinue Reading The Fastcase/ vLex Merger – A Talk with Ed Walters on the State of the Legal Tech Market, Advice for Start-ups, Generative AI and Robot Law in Legal Education

The American Association of Law Libraries is seeking nominations for the 2024 Product of the year award. Both members and vendors can submit nominations.

This award honors new commercial information products that enhance or improve existing law library services or procedures or innovative products which improve access to legal information, the legal research process, or procedures for technical processing of library materials.

A “new” product is defined as one which has been in the library-related marketplace for two years or less. New products may include, but are not limited to, computer hardware and/or software, educational or bibliographic material, or other products or devices that aid or improve library workflow, research, or intellectual access. Products that have been reintroduced in a new format or with substantial changes are eligible.

The world before and after Generative AI If you are scratching your head and trying to Continue Reading Nominate Your Favorite Products for AALL’s Product of the Year Award

I have lived through legal technology revolutions before. The conversion of legal research from print to online moved though law firms like slow rolling train.  Lexis, the first commercial online  legal research product launched in 1970. Many firms did not fully embrace online research and abandon print until the pandemic drove the profession to remote work, nearly 50 years later. Analytics in legal research provided dramatic new insights into the behavior of judges, courts, attorneys and clients. It took less than ten years following the launch of Lex Machina in 2013 for legal analytics to move from esoteric to essential. The promise  of, if not the practice  with  Generative AI swept like a wildfire through the legal information market. When ChatGPT launched it took only five days to reach a million users and by January 2023 (2 months later) it had a 100 million users. Enter the “hype cycle.”

While OpenAi dominated the commercial market, Casetext, which had early access to GTP 4 dominated legal industry news headlines in 2023. Read the full post at Legal Tech HubContinue Reading Standing on the threshold of change: 2023 in review (A somewhat irreverent review of the AI hysteria That Swept Through the Legal Industry)

Today vLex  is announcing a suite of AI tools in its research assistant platform Vincent AI. Since the merger with Fastcase in 2023, vLex has offered the “world’s most comprehensive AI legal research platform.”  vLex has launched an invitation-only beta which includes a suite of large language model (LLM) tools. The beta will be offered to additional users in the coming months.

This announcement ratchets up the already feverish competition taking place in the legal research market. Thomson Reuters recently purchased Casetext CoCounsel for 650 Million and is expected to launch an integration with Westlaw Precision before the end of the year. LexisNexis is testing AI tools with customers and Bloomberg Law has made AI tools available in an Innovation Studio. All are expected to launch LLM enabled AI tools in the near future. I anticipate that we are in for a year (or maybe a decade) of leapfrogging AI technology launches. .

“AI tools are only as good as the data they rely on,” said vLex CEO Lluís Faus, “and the vLex law library is one of the largest collections of structured law on the planet, including leading expert commentary. That leads to unprecedented insights for legal tasks. For legal LLMs, this release is a major improvement. It is as big as the jump from ChatGPT to GPT4. The results are astonishing.”Continue Reading vLex Launches First Global AI Legal Assistant: Vincent AI for Research and Drafting

Legal Tech Mergers continue despite the uncertain economy. The recent acquisitions of Fastcase and Casetext inspired me to “take the temperature” of legal information marketplace. Thomson Reuters acquisition of Casetext for the breathtaking $650M was completed on August 17, 2023

The Survey I gave information professionals the opportunity to provide feedback on legal information mergers

The American Arbitration Association (AAA®), the global leader in arbitration and mediation services and data analytics, announced that Steve Errick will join their international division, the International Centre for Dispute Resolution® (ICDR®), as Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer.

Steve has been a highly visible presence at legal tech

Thomson Reuters’  deal to purchase  Casetext has driven the legal tech hype cycle to a fever pitch. Don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of Casetext. I have been an admirer for over a decade. More than once, I have watched them not just beat the market, but redirect the market and invent whole new categories of legal research products. I have spent a lot of time over the past few years musing about innovation,  new product categories and market advantage.

When Casetext created the “brief analysis” tool CARA, it was three years before even one of the largest legal information companies launched a brief analyzer and it was four years before all three,; Thomson Reuters, LexisNexis and Bloomberg Law, had a brief analyzer on the market.

Note: vLex (Fastcase) launched the Vincent “brief checker” in the international market in 2018., two years after the launch of CARA. The above graphic was focused on the U. S. market.

Similarly, with Compose, Casetext introduced “parallel search” and a new category of concept searching was born. Or as Casetext co-founder Pablo Arredondo likes to exclaim “parallel search freed lawyers from the prison of the keyword.” This time The market responded in less than two years. LexisNexis launched “Fact and issue Finder” which leveraged extractive AI technology built on a highly tailored version of Google’s BERT to present insights to researchers.   Westlaw responded with Westlaw Precision built with a large editorial team to help with machine learning. The response time in the market is growing shorter.

Industry Insiders’ Perspectives I have spoken to several legal tech industry insiders and the consensus seems to be that within 6  to 12 months, Thomson Reuters competitors Lexis, Bloomberg Law, and vLex (formerly Fastcase)  are likely to have developed capabilities which can compete with CoCounsel. No one is starting from scratch. According to Ed Walters, Chief Strategy Officer at vLex, “we already have global AI products in the labs. We don’t release vaporware, but these products are coming no matter who owns Casetext.”Continue Reading Thomson Reuters $650M Bet on Casetext CoCounsel. Did They Buy Market Dominance or Just Time?