Vincent is “the first AI-powered intelligent legal research assistant of its kind. Only Vincent can analyze documents in two languages (English and Spanish) from 9 countries (and counting), and is built ready to incorporate content not only from vLex’s expansive global collection, but also from internal knowledge management resources, public sources and licensed databases simultaneously. How does Vincent do it, you ask? Well, it’s been trained on vLex’s extensive global collection of 100 million+ legal documents, and is built on top of the Iceberg AI platform.” For more information, see this vLex blog post.

H/T to Bob Ambrogi for calling attention to BYU Law’s Law and Corpus Linguistics Technology Platform. The platform, which is open to all to use at no cost, has three corpora:

  1. Corpus of Founding Era American English, a collection spanning 1760 to 1799 that contains nearly 100,000 documents from the founders, ordinary people and legal sources, and that includes letters, diaries, newspapers, non-fiction and fiction books, sermons, speeches, debates, legal cases and other legal materials.
  2. Corpus of Supreme Court of the United States, a collection of all Supreme Court opinions in the United States Reports though the 2017 term (with the 2018 soon to be added).
  3. Early English Books Online (EBO), Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) corrected by the Text Creation Partnership (TCP) Evans Bibliography (University of Michigan).

— Joe

Save the date for TRG’s webinar on Data Analytics for Lexis, Westlaw and PACER: New Ways to Address Old Problems Using SmartRecharge. This webinar will demonstrate how Smart Recharge is utilized to:

  • Improve Cost efficiency of on-line resources
  • Create awareness of what end-users access
  • Address potential billing issues before they arise

Panelists:

  • Steve Lastres – Director of Knowledge Management Services, Debevoise & Plimpton
  • Patricia Barbone – Director of Library Services, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP
  • Daniel Pelletier – Director of Knowledge and Research Services, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP

Moderator: Leigh Walters – Chief Revenue Officer, TRG Screen

Data Analytics for Lexis, Westlaw and PACER

Date: 25 September 2018

Time: 12:00 ET / 17:00 London / 18:00 CET (duration: 1 hour)

— Joe

From the blurb for The Social Media Privacy Legislation Desktop Reference (Seyfarth Shaw, 2016-17):

Social media and related issues in the workplace can be a headache for employers. Seyfarth Shaw LLP’s Social Media Practice Group is pleased to provide you with an easy-to-use guide to social media privacy legislation and what employers need to know. The Social Media Privacy Legislation Desktop Reference:

• Describes the content and purpose of the various states’ social media privacy laws.
• Delivers a detailed state-by-state description of each law, listing a general overview, what is prohibited, what is allowed, the remedies for violations, and special notes for each state.
• Provides an easy-to-use chart listing the states that have enacted social media privacy laws and the features of the law in all such states.
• Offers our thoughts on the implications of this legislation in other areas, including trade secret misappropriation, bring your own device issues and concerns, social media discovery and evidence considerations, and use of social media in internal investigations.

— Joe

From Ben Grunwald, Strategic Publication, 92 Tul. L. Rev. 745 (2018):

Under the standard account of judicial behavior, when a panel of appellate court judges cannot agree on the outcome of a case, the panel has two options. First, it can publish a divided decision with a majority opinion and a dissent. Panels usually do not take this route because a dissent dramatically increases the probability of reversal. The second and more common option is for the panel to bargain and compromise over the reasoning of the decision and then publish a unanimous opinion.

This Article argues that a divided panel has a third option: strategic publication. The panel can choose not to publish any opinion at all and thus sap its decision of precedential weight and insulate it from further scrutiny by higher courts. This Article also reports the results of a novel empirical analysis of case-level data on published and unpublished decisions in one federal circuit court. While it finds little empirical evidence that majority-Democrat panels in the sample engage in strategic publication, it finds evidence that majority-Republican panels do. The Article concludes by offering several policy proposals to diminish strategic publication by separating the publication decision from judicial negotiations over the merits.

— Joe

From the abstract for A Rose by Any Other Name: Understanding Judicial Decisions that Do Not Cite Precedent, 15 Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 563 (2018) by Kawin Ethayarajh, Andrew James Green and Albert Yoon:

In common-law countries, legal precedent serves as a foundation of judicial opinions. Judges cite precedent to explain their decision, and it is this use of precedent that threads one decision to another. The Supreme Court in India stands in contrast to its counterparts in other countries in that it annually decides not dozens, but thousands, of cases. Perhaps unsurprisingly, nearly half the Court’s decisions do not cite any precedent at all. This article examines this phenomenon, specifically how it affects judges’ commitment to the common law, in substance if not in form. Examining every Court decision for the period 1950–2010, we textually analyze the opinions using machine learning to determine what connection, if any, exists between cases. We find that it is possible to accurately model how the Court cites to existing precedent and that even for decisions without any citations, there is almost always at least one prior decision the Court could have cited. Our finding suggest that time and resource demands are primarily responsible for the failure to cite relevant precedent, but that the Court acts efficiently, given the constraints placed on it, in deciding in which decisions to include precedent. This research, however, leaves unanswered whether the Court provides sufficient guidance to lower courts.

— Joe

From the announcement: “Today we are thrilled to announce the general availability of PACER Docket Alerts on CourtListener.com. Once enabled, a docket alert will send you an email whenever there is a new filing in a case in PACER. … We believe PACER Docket Alerts will be a valuable resource to journalists, researchers, lawyers, and the public as they grapple with staying up to date with the latest PACER filings.” — Joe

On In Custodia Legis, Leah K. Ibraheem, the web metrics analyst in the Office of the Chief Information Officer of the Library of Congress, answers the title’s question in the affirmative. She writes “As traffic to has grown over the past four years, the percentage of mobile traffic has also grown. In 2014, 21% of traffic was mobile. In the first 5 months of 2018, 44% of visits were from users on mobile devices. It’s also notable that in the first 5 months of 2018, there were more mobile visits than for all of 2014, 2015, and 2016. … What’s behind this trend? A societal pivot from desktop/laptop devices to mobile/tablet devices.”  — Joe

Hat tip to Canada’s online legal magazine Slaw for calling attention to Jonathan de Vries, Legal Research, Legal Reasoning and Precedent in Canada in the Digital Age, 48 Advocates’ Quarterly 1 (2018). Here’s the abstract:

The past few decades have witnessed the rapid replacement of print-based sources of legal information by digital sources. This article summarizes the existing Anglo-American scholarship on the interaction between legal media, legal reasoning and substantive law, and applies it to the context of Canadian law and Canada’s unique experience of print-based legal information. While Canada adopted the intellectual methods of a print-based legal system, it lagged behind in the establishment of print-based sources of legal information, with the result that the intellectual and institutional structures that derive from print media were nowhere near as entrenched in Canadian law as compared with other common law jurisdictions. Therefore, to whatever degree the transition to digital legal information poses a threat of disruption to a common law legal system, this disruptive effect will be more acute in Canada than in the United States or England.

Interesting. — Joe

From the conclusion from Law Technology Today’s Legal Analytics vs. Legal Research: What’s the Difference?:

Technology is transforming the legal services industry. Some attorneys may resist this transformation out of fear that new technologies might change how they practice law or even make their jobs obsolete. Similar concerns were voiced when legal research moved from books to computers. But that transition did not reduce the need for attorneys skilled in legal research. Instead, it made attorneys better and more effective at their jobs.

Similarly, legal analytics will not make the judgment and expertise of seasoned lawyers obsolete. It will, however, enable those who employ it to provide better and more cost-effective representation for their clients and better compete with their opponents.

— Joe

US News & World Report is partnering with Best Lawyers to release the U.S. News Lawyer Directory of lawyers who are working in private practice in the United States. The directory initially includes tens of thousands of lawyers, but eventually will cover more than 1.3 million private-practice lawyers in the United States, according to a press release. See the FAQ for details. — Joe

Drawing upon new citation data and archival research, Nicholas R. Parrillo’s Leviathan and Interpretive Revolution: The Administrative State, the Judiciary, and the Rise of Legislative History, 1890-1950, 123 Yale Law Journal ___ (2013) “reveals that judicial use of legislative history became routine quite suddenly, in about 1940. The key player in pushing legislative history on the judiciary was the newly expanded New Deal administrative state. By reason of its unprecedented manpower and its intimacy with Congress (which often meant congressmen depended on agency personnel to help draft bills and write legislative history), the administrative state was the first institution in American history capable of systematically researching and briefing legislative discourse and rendering it tractable and legible to judges on a wholesale basis. By embracing legislative history circa 1940, judges were taking up a source of which the bureaucracy was a privileged producer and user — a development integral to judges’ larger acceptance of agency-centered governance. Legislative history was, at least in its origin, a statist tool of interpretation.” Interesting. — Joe

From the abstract for Gregory E. Maggs’ A Critical Guide to Using the Legislative History of the Fourteenth Amendment to Determine the Amendment’s Original Meaning, 49 Conn. L. Rev. 1069 (2017):

Judges, lawyers, and scholars often look to the Fourteenth Amendment’s legislative history for evidence of the Amendment’s original meaning. Members of the Supreme Court, for instance, have cited floor statements, committee records, preliminary proposals, and other documents relating to the drafting and approval of the Fourteenth Amendment in many important cases. The documents containing this legislative history, however, are difficult to use. As explained in this Article, the Amendment came about through a complex process, in which Congress rejected several prior proposals for constitutional amendments before settling on a markedly different proposal that became the Fourteenth Amendment. Although the primary sources containing the legislative history are widely available online, some of them lack useful indexes and are only partially electronically searchable. In addition, statements made during the drafting and debate over the Fourteenth Amendment do not always yield clear answers to modern questions. Aggravating the situation, most lawyers, judges, law clerks, and legal scholars receive little or no instruction on how to use the documents containing the legislative history of the Fourteenth Amendment. Accordingly, they may feel unequipped either to use the legislative history to make claims about the Amendment’s original meaning or to evaluate the claims of others. Even the Supreme Court appears to have difficulty with the details. This Article seeks to improve the situation by providing a critical guide to the Amendment’s legislative history.

— Joe

The House Journal: Origin, Purpose, and Approval (R45209, May 31, 2018) “considers the origin and purpose of the Journal as well as the procedures related to its approval. It discusses why a Member might call for a vote and why a Member might vote against the Journal’s approval. The report also examines record approval votes from 1991 to 2016 (102nd-114th Congresses), addressing trends in the frequency of these votes, the percentage of votes initiated by majority party Members, and the procedures used to call for or postpone record votes.” — Joe

“The data make clear that headnote assignments are far from scientific. In fact, they appear somewhat arbitrary, at least based on the discrepancies described in this article. Further study is warranted,” wrote Peter A. Hook and Kurt R. Mattson in Surprising Differences: An Empirical Analysis of LexisNexis and West Headnotes in the Written Opinions of the 2009 Supreme Court Term, 109 Law. Libr. J. 557 (2017). Here’s the abstract:

The number of headnotes assigned by LexisNexis and West are empirically examined for opinions of the 2009 Supreme Court Term. Additionally, Citizens United is examined in detail to determine the overlap of headnote-worthy language. Discrepancies in the number of headnotes assigned and disagreement as to headnote-worthy language call into question the rigor with which headnotes are created.

H/T to Legal Skills Prof Blog. Interesting. — Joe

Kendall Svengalis has published the 2018 edition of his Legal Information Buyer’s Guide & Reference Manual. Updates include:

  • Fifty eight (58) additional pages of material, now totaling 1,019 pages
  • More than 90 new treatises, reference titles, and other product reviews (Chapter 27)
  • Enhanced bibliographies of legal treatises in 67 subject areas, including 77 titles on Legal Research and Writing, with new, used, electronic, and West Monthly Assured Print Pricing on more than 2,700 titles in all (Chapter 27)
  • Enhanced bibliography of legal reference titles (Chapter 22)
  • Updated bibliographies of state legal resources and research guides, including the cost of CALR offerings (Chapter 28)
  • Completely updated bibliographic data for all covered titles
  • Completely updated cost and supplementation figures through 2018, with supplementation figures through 2017 (and 2018 for Matthew Bender).
  • Completely updated cost spreadsheet for supplemented titles (Appendix G)
  • Completely updated charts and tables reflecting 2017 annual reports and pricing data
  • Completely updated sample Westlaw and Lexis costs (Chapter 25)
  • Completely updated sample CALR costs for all vendors (Chapter 25)
  • Completely updated spreadsheet of published state statutory codes
  • Recent industry developments and acquisitions, including profit margins (Chapter 2)
  • Updated information on Fastcase and Law360
  • Cumulative supplementation cost data going back 25 years — all at your fingertips — to guide your acquisitions and de-acquisitions decisions
  • Special alerts of egregious price and supplementation cost increases in recent years

Order here. Strongly recommended. — Joe

According to Victoria Nourse, The Constitution and Legislative History, 17 University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law 313 (2014), the answer is “no.” From the conclusion of Nourse’s article:

It is time to retire the all-or-nothing 1980s debate about the constitutionality of legislative history. These arguments have been generally ignored by the vast majority of judges and the Supreme Court. New developments in the theory of statutory interpretation, including decision process theory, help to sharpen the critique of legislative history but at the same time retire the constitutional questions as they have been posed. When applied to legislative rules and proceedings, the arguments against the constitutionality of legislative history, are not supported by the text, history or structure of the Constitution.

— Joe