I came across Ravel Law today. I’m not quite sure what to make of it. The New York Times calls it “A search, analytics and collaboration tool for lawyers, this platform visualizes and organizes legal cases to highlight patterns and connections between them.” Some of the confusion I have about the site is due to the limited public access that is available in the free account. Search results offer opinions from federal and state courts, though the latter are only available with a premium subscription.
I want to emphasize that this is not a review of the site or the full product Ravel offers. I’ve spent a little bit of time searching some concepts relating to antitrust law as a matter of seeing what results are returned. My immediate impression is that the site offers full-text opinions with a graphic representation of a case’s relevance combined with relational spokes to other cases that have cited it. These are represented as interactive circles that work with a citation list. Hovering on a related case brings up a short snippet of the citing case. Clicking on a circle brings up the full text of the case. There is also an interactive timeline that can limit citations to a particular time span.
The value in this appears to relate concepts from one case to others through the visuals on the graph. The larger the circle, the more important the case will be. Lines connect one circle to another circle and it’s very easy to see which major cases are connected to other major cases. This is like a citator on steroids in my opinion as one can get to this point with a simple search. Citators in Lexis and Westlaw obviously require the analytical starting point to be a citation. That means multiple steps in developing the analysis that finds the value and use of related cases. The snippets help immensely in determining which related cases are of value.
I can honestly say that I’m intrigued by what I’ve seen so far. There is nothing like it in Lexis or Westlaw. I intend to continue trying out Ravel Law to get a better understanding on how it works. I’m sure I’ll be writing about this site in the future. Aside from the information in the Ravel Law FAQ, some commentary about the site by Greg Lambert is in 3 Geeks and a Law Blog. – Mark