Javed Qadrud-Din, a HLS grad who is a machine learning engineer at Casetext, provides examples of how Casetext uses AI. While it is a little bit technical, the discussion of AI techniques in the context of Casetext’s features is illuminating.
With continued advances in AI, machine learning and legal analytics anticipated, we can expect that legal information platforms will be supplanted by legal intelligence platforms in the not too distant future. But what would a legal intelligence (or “smart law”) platform look like? Well, I can’t describe a prototypical legal intelligence platform in any technical detail. But it will exist at the point of the agile convergence of expert analysis, text and data-driven features for core legal search for all market segments. I do, however, see what some “smart law” platform elements would be when looking at what Fastcase and Casetext are offering right now.
In my opinion, the best contemporary perspective on what a legal intelligence platform would be is to imagine that Fastcase and Casetext were one company. The imagined vendor would offer in integrated fashion Fastcase and Casetext’s extensive collection of primary and secondary resources including legal news and contemporary analysis from the law blogosphere, Fastcase’s search engine algorithms for keyword searching, Casetext’s CLARA for contextual searching, Casetext’s SmartCite, Fastcase’s Docket Alarm, Fastcase BK, and Fastcase’s install base of some 70-75% of US attorneys, all in the context of the industry’s most transparent pricing model which both Fastcase and Casetext have already adopted.
Obviously, pricing models are not an essential element of a legal intelligence platform. But wouldn’t most potential “smart law” customers prefer transparent pricing? That won’t happen if WEXIS deploys the first legal intelligence platforms. Neither Fastcase nor Casetext (nor Thomson Reuters, LexisNexis, BBNA, or WK) has a ‘smart law” platform right now. Who will be the first? Perhaps one possibility is hiding in plain sight.
A snip from Casetext’s blog post, Cite-checking the Smart Way: An Interview about SmartCite with Casetext Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Pablo Arredondo (May 15, 2019):
“SmartCite was developed through a combination of cutting-edge machine learning, natural language processing, and experienced editorial review. Let’s start with the technology.
“SmartCite looks for patterns in millions of cases and uses judges’ own words to determine whether a case is good law and how a case has been cited by other cases. There are three key data sources analyzed by SmartCite. First, SmartCite looks at “explanatory parentheticals.” You know how judges will summarize other cases using parentheses? By looking for these phrases in opinions, we were able to extract 4.3 million case summaries and explanations written by judges! These explanatory parentheticals provide what I call “artisanal citator entries”: they are insightful, reliable, judge-written summaries of cases.
“The second key data source leveraged by SmartCite are phrases in judicial opinions that indicate that a case has been negatively treated. For example, when a judicial decision cites to a case that is bad law, the judge will often explain why that case is bad law by saying “overruled by” or “reversed by” or “superseded by statute, as stated in…” The same is true with good law. Judicial opinions will often indicate that a case is “affirmed by” another case.
“The third data source we use are Bluebook signals that judges use to characterize and distinguish cases. Bluebook signals can actually tell us a lot about a case. For example, when a judge introduces a case using “but see” or “cf.” or “contra,” the judge is indicating that this case is contrary authority, or that it has treated a legal issue differently from other cases. These contrary signals are powerful indicators of tension in the case law.
“However, using machine learning to look for judicial phrases and Bluebook signals is only the starting point of SmartCite’s analysis. We also rely on experienced editors to manage that process, review the case law, and make decisions on the ‘edge cases.'”
See also this page for SmartCite product information.
Bob Ambrogi and Jean O’Grady report that Wolters Kluwer’s Cheetah legal research platform will be back online today but some content updates may be delayed and certain advanced features such at “smart charts” and redlining will not be restored immediately. Wolters Kluwer has created a guide outlining the restoration of Cheetah features and content here. This guide will be continuously updated.
On Dewey B Strategic, Jean O’Grady reports that Wolters Kluwer Legal and Regulatory has experienced a serious service interruption since yesterday afternoon arising from malware. They have taken their platforms including Cheetah and RBSource offline. To make matters worse – the malware impacted their ability to communicate with customers. See WK’s statement here.
For LexisNexis, the pressure in on to recapture solo and two-attorney firms. Competition is getting stiff. For example, over the last 9 months alone, Casetext reports that over 3,000 law firms have switched from LexisNexis and Westlaw to Casetext. LN’s response to the competition is to lower its pricing and make pricing more transparent in the small law market defined as solo and two attorney firms.
Go here to view LN’s offer of three plans: (1) a $55/month “state primary” plan; (2) a $115/month “state enhanced with full federal” plan and (3) a $138/month “national primary enhanced”. Due note all three plans require a three-year contract. In additions to the pricing quoted above, there appears to be a $25/month “administrative fee.”
This in not LN’s only campaign targeting “low cost” providers like Fastcase and Casemaker. Remember the 2017 “Low cost can cost you” marketing campaign? So far, I haven’t seen an LN press release about this latest attempt.
H/T Casetext’s post, LexisNexis’ New Pricing for Small Law Firms: How to Save Thousands Apr. 25, 2019.
In CRIV’s semiannual call with BBNA on December 21,2019, the Company reiterated its corporate objective of becoming a digital-only platform stating “Bloomberg Law is unequivocally committed to becoming a digital-only platform, in the near future. There is not a concrete date set for the complete move to digital-only, but it is not remote and the complete move should be expected within the next few years.” Towards this end, Tax Management Portfolios are still being made available in print but only as a short-term accommodation:
“Bloomberg Law’s production and selling of Tax Management Portfolios (TMP) in print TMP is an accommodation exception for Bloomberg Law or Bloomberg Tax online subscribers who also want to continue getting print TMPs. Access to print TMPs were offered as a convenience. Bloomberg Law is committed to continual updates to the TMPs, something only possible in the digital format but understands many subscribers need time migrating users to the digital platform.”
From the FTC’s tying page:
Offering products together as part of a package can benefit consumers who like the convenience of buying several items at the same time. Offering products together can also reduce the manufacturer’s costs for packaging, shipping, and promoting the products. Of course, some consumers might prefer to buy products separately, and when they are offered only as part of a package, it can be more difficult for consumers to buy only what they want.
For competitive purposes, a monopolist may use forced buying, or “tie-in” sales, to gain sales in other markets where it is not dominant and to make it more difficult for rivals in those markets to obtain sales. This may limit consumer choice for buyers wanting to purchase one (“tying”) product by forcing them to also buy a second (“tied”) product as well. Typically, the “tied” product may be a less desirable one that the buyer might not purchase unless required to do so, or may prefer to get from a different seller. If the seller offering the tied products has sufficient market power in the “tying” product, these arrangements can violate the antitrust laws.
Example: The FTC challenged a drug maker that required patients to purchase its blood-monitoring services along with its medicine to treat schizophrenia. The drug maker was the only producer of the medicine, but there were many companies capable of providing blood-monitoring services to patients using the drug. The FTC claimed that tying the drug and the monitoring services together raised the price of that medical treatment and prevented independent providers from monitoring patients taking the drug. The drug maker settled the charges by agreeing not to prevent other companies from providing blood-monitoring services.
Can you see the similarity of the FTC’s example and LexisNexis tying?
And the award goes to Thomson Reuters for Statutes Compare and Regulations Compare on Westlaw Edge.
The LexisNexis tying controversy was on the agenda for our association’s Spring executive board meeting. It appears on the April 5 agenda as one of six items listed under the heading “informal considerations.” See the Spring 2019 Meeting Board Book. The agenda indicates that AALL President Femi Cadmus gave an “update on current LexisNexis Practices.” There was no action item associated with the tying controversy agenda item. Hopefully AALL will communicate the substance of this update to the rank-and-file membership in the near future.
H/T to Bob Ambrogi for reporting that Fastcase will be adding ABA publications:
Steve Errick, chief operating officer at Fastcase, told me that he is working with the ABA to add publications from different sections one at a time, with family law, health, trial, IP, and criminal law among the first sections in the pipeline. He did not specify the titles to be added but said the arrangement would average 30-60 titles per section.
Subscribers will have access to these titles from directly within the Fastcase 7 platform, but they will be required to purchase the titles to which they want access. Individual titles will be sold at the ABA’s retail price, while firms that purchase multiple or enterprise subscriptions will be eligible for discounts based on number of titles purchased and number of firm users.
Even though individual titles will be priced the same as purchasing them from the ABA, subscribers get two benefits by purchasing them through Fastcase, Errick said. One is ease of access to the titles directly from the platform and the other is the addition within the books of links to cases and regulations.
From the press release:
“The vision for Fastcase is to make it easy for users to connect the legal research workflow dots, from primary law and public records, dockets, expert witness, legal analytics, and legal news,” Errick said. “The collection includes law review articles from HeinOnline, alerts, digests and blogs from LexBlog, and now our fast-growing collection of more than 1,000 market-leading expert treatises. To see it all come together and be able to showcase these fantastic books represents the culmination of 20 years of effort, and we feel like we’re really just getting started,” he added.
State and local bar partners, consumer bankruptcy customers, and AmLaw 250 subscribers have been asking Fastcase for risk solutions that include public records data according to Fastcase President Phil Rosenthal and Fastcase COO Steve Errick. To satisfy the request, Fastcase has partnered with TransUnion. In a nutshell, Fastcase users who sign up with TransUnion to access its TLOxp platform can use TransUnion information to perform due diligence, conduct litigation support, locate witnesses, track ownership of assets, verify identities, and conduct other investigations.
Thomson Reuters has released Thomson Reuters Panoramic, a cloud-based product geared toward large and midsize law firms to help them budget, plan for and manage matters in real time. Panoramic will be available in the United States and the United Kingdom. A spokesperson for the company said it would evaluate making it available in other jurisdictions later on. Panoramic will launch with a deep focus on corporate mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, litigation and finance. Thomson Reuters expects to build out additional practice areas over time. From the press release:
At the heart of Panoramic are dynamic Matter Maps, created and kept up to date by expert Practical Law attorney editors. These Matter Maps include the phases and underlying tasks needed to execute a specific legal matter, helpful not only in managing and doing the work, but also for understanding the matter and building budgets. Matter Maps in Panoramic contain a sophisticated logic system that guides users to the specific tasks relevant to the facts of their case and provides a common language between the front and back office so that a new matter is planned in a way that will drive positive results for the firm and client. In this way, Panoramic also helps partners and pricing directors achieve more informed and faster scoping and budgeting.
Politico is reporting that “powerful companies such as LexisNexis have begun hoovering up the data from insurance claims, digital health records, housing records, and even information about a patient’s friends, family and roommates, without telling the patient they are accessing the information, and creating risk scores for health care providers and insurers.” The risk score is the product of confidential algorithms. While the data collection is aimed at helping doctors and insurers make more informed decisions on prescribing opioids, it could also lead to blacklisting of some patients and keep them from getting the drugs they need, according to patient advocates. Details here.
Back in 2017, Venture Beat reported that LexisNexis was testing chatbots for legal search. Bob Ambrogi now reports that implementation of a chatbot for Lexis Advance is coming sooner rather than later although no launch date has been announced.
The chatbot’s goal, LexisNexis said, is to give users the option to take more of a conversational approach to search, rather than the “typing keywords into a search bar” approach. A Lexis Advance chatbot could have two key uses. The bot can guide researchers unfamiliar with a topic to sources people typically look at for that topic. The second use is when revisiting prior research. The bot can present it back to searchers, pointing out that, three months ago, they did similar research, and offering to show it to them again. Also, it is claimed that the bot will get better over time at predicting a user’s intent as the user interacts with the system.
Wait ‘n see.
In the history of law library-vendor relations, Thomson Reuters traditionally has been viewed as “the evil vendor” for its long history of nasty B2B relations with law libraries due to the company’s past aggressive duopolistic business practices. No longer in my opinion. One clear impression I got from reading Feit Consulting’s 2019 Legal Information Vendor Market Survey Summary for Survey Respondents is that LexisNexis is the new evil vendor.
It takes a lot to replace Thomson Reuters for this “honor.” Despite TR trying to gouge law libraries by attempting to charge as much as a 20% premium for Westlaw Edge and pricing Practical Law too high according to survey respondents, dissatisfaction with the functionality of LexisNexis’ search platform, pricing trends, and new tying tactics is so widespread and passionate among survey respondents that LexisNexis is clearly entrenched as our new evil vendor.
I’m not sure how LexisNexis ended up here. Perhaps because of –
- the decline in cost recovery practices for search services along with the reduction in the number of firms that provide both Westlaw and Lexis since 2008;
- the 2011 not ready for prime time release of Lexis Advance;
- the nearly annual corporate-wide reorganizations, and executive, managerial and account rep staff replacements (voluntary or not);
- the perception that the company is now offering a search product inferior to Westlaw Edge (While most Feit survey respondents do not license Westlaw Edge yet a majority of Westlaw respondents say they will within the next 3 years.); and
- the company’s new tying tactic leverages the popularity of its legal news products in an attempt to prop up Lexis Advance’s install base and revenue stream (And which appears to be backfiring according to the verbatim comments found in the Feit survey.).
My bottom line: LexisNexis needs a turnaround specialist in its C suite.
Bob Ambrogi is reporting that Thomson Reuters is rolling out Precedent Analytics for Westlaw Edge users today. “Precedent Analytics lets users see the citation patterns of individual judges, revealing the cases, courts, judges and citation language they rely on in deciding different legal issues. It also shows the frequency with which judges have dealt with different issues,” writes Bob. Details on LawSites. See also this Dewey B Strategic post.
Law.com is reporting that seven retired federal judges, including former Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner, filed an amicus brief in a class action over PACER fees now on appeal. The brief argues that PACER fees harm the judiciary’s credibility and pro se litigants.
On Dewey B Strategic, Jean O’Grady wants to know what you thought about 2018 legal publishing and tech trends for her new “Hits and Misses” survey. It only takes about 5 minutes to complete and it closes on Jan. 31st. Recommended.