Category Archives: Products & Services

Natural language processing and machine learning tools in HeinOnline

Check out Shannon Sabo’s two part series on HeinOnline’s implementation of natural language processing and AI: Part One and Part Two. — Joe

Fastcase adds blog commentary to Fastcase 7

In a major coup for both the LexBlog network and Fastcase, Fastcase has integrated the LexBlog network’s bloggers commentaries into Fastcase 7. Now, a Fastcase searcher can access contemporary analysis on legal developments in addition to linkage to HeinOnline’s library of legal periodicals. “We’re pushing hard to add the best secondary sources for our members,” said Fastcase CEO Ed Walters. “The LexBlog network is a platform for some of the nation’s leading experts in law to report and synthesize legal news and developments. And the collection of every day’s LexBlog posts reads like the most compelling legal newspaper in America.” Quoting from Bob Ambrogi’s LawSite’s post. — Joe

Bloomberg Law’s New Feature, Points Of Law

Bloomberg Law announced a new research feature, Points of Law, a little over a week ago.  I’ve been playing around with it using the ATV injury problem I created for teaching online legal research concepts.  In summary, An ATV rider was injured while riding on someone else’s private property without permission.  The problem called for the researcher to identify relevant cases where assumption of risk was a viable defense and collect them for later analysis.  The jurisdiction is New York.

Let me explain a little about Points of Law before I dive into my experience with it.  Bloomberg’s press release describes the feature:

Points of Law offers a more efficient way to conduct case law research.  Through the application of machine learning to Bloomberg Law’s database of 13 million court opinions, Points of Law highlights language critical to the court’s holding, links this language to governing statements of law and relevant on-point case law.

Bloomberg Law provides context – connecting keyword search results to governing statements of law – and unparalleled breadth of coverage, generating one million Points of Law from our state and federal court opinion database.

I found the press release accurate.  I used one of the sample searches I set up for the research problem, <all-terrain vehicle and assumption of risk>.  The case law I expected to see in the list of results was there.  Some of the cases, not all, had a Points of Law icon on the right side of the text.  Clicking that highlights text that the AI in the database considers to be significant.  My search highlighted what I would describe as a combination of black letter law on a keyword related topic or significant points on how the courts treat that topic.  The focus here was on assumption of risk, obviously,  as and all-terrain vehicle is not a legal concept.

Here are some example results extracted from Marcano v. City of New York, 296 A.D.2d 43, 743 N.Y.S.2d 456 (App Div, 1st Dept 2002):

Generally, the issue of assumption of risk is a question of fact for the jury.” (Lamey v Foley, 188 AD2d 157, 163-164 .)

“The policy underlying this tort rule is intended to facilitate free and vigorous participation in athletic activities.” (Benitez v New York City Bd. of Educ., 73 NY2d 650, 657 .)  [Discussing how assumption of the risk in sports is handled by the courts. – MG]

Because of the factual nature of the inquiry, whether a danger is open and obvious is most often a jury question * * *.”

What I found most interesting about using Points of Law is how viewing multiple extracts informed me about assumption of risk without requiring a lot of lengthy analysis.  Now, not all cases in the search results were useful in my context where an ATV rider was injured.  At the same time, a researcher will find what they need to know conceptually about assumption of the risk as treated by the New York Courts.  I assume that applies to other legal doctrines as well.

Another feature worth mentioning is that clicking on the highlighted phrase will open a side window that cites other cases expressing the same point of law (up to 10).  There is also a button that shows a citation map of the Point:

Bloomberg Cite Map.

Another button shows a list of opinions that expressed related concepts along with the Point text:

Bloomberg Related Points of Law

All in all, I think this is a nifty feature that researchers and litigators will actually use.  I wonder if it will integrate with any of the current general search products on the market, as in “Hey Google, find me cases in New York State that discuss assumption of risk in the context of recreational activities.”  If we now think that first year law students take the lazy route in legal research based on their Google use, just wait for the future to show up.

In the Not Everything is Perfect category, one case, Bierach v. Nichols, 248 A.D.2d 916, 669 N.Y.S.2d 988 (App Div, 3d Dept 1998), had one Point of Law listed but not highlighted in the text.  It was short enough that I was able to guess what was the likely text that would have been highlighted.  Oh well.  –Mark

What sort of information transparency is necessary for reliance on analytical tools?

According to RNRMarketResearch.com, the legal analytics market is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 32.7% and is projected to grow from $451.1 million in 2017 to $1.858 billion by 2022. But not all legal analytical products are created equally. On the AALL CS-SIS blog, Jonathan Germann demonstrates this by comparing Docket Navigator with Bloomberg Law. The latter comes up lacking. “As information professionals become regular users and gatekeepers of analytics tools, what information transparency is necessary for reliance?,” asks Germann. He proceeds to provide a transparency checklist. — Joe

Google’s mobile search helps users find ebooks at some local public libraries

For detail’s see my Gesenhues’ Search Engine Land post. H/T to Gary Price’s InfoDocket post. — Joe

Google drops instant search feature

Google has retired the instant search feature it introduced in 2010 where search results will populate a page as a user typed.  No more.  The reason for this is that 50% of searches are on mobile devices where the feature makes no sense.  I wonder if anyone will notice.  More details are at The Verge and Search Engine Land. —Mark

OverDrive announces new cost-per-circulation pricing model

Late in 2017, Overdrive will launch a cost-per-circulation pricing model for eBooks and audiobooks that will enable libraries to provide a patron-driven acquisition model for select titles from OverDrive’s Marketplace catalog. When selecting a book under the cost-per circulation model, libraries will be charged only when a patron borrows a title. For more, see OverDrive’s blog post. — Joe

On the explanation problem for algorithms

In What does it mean to ask for an “explainable” algorithm?, Ed Felten discusses the explanation problem for algorithms in terms of (1) claims of confidentiality; (2) complexity; (3) unreasonableness; and (4) injustice. See Felten’s Freedom to Tinker blog post for details. — Joe

The Global Law Search Engine designed for legal information professionals, not just lawyers

Global-Regulation has launched the Global Law Search Engine, a fee-based service that can be test driven for free right now. The search service claims to be the most comprehensive currently available because one can “[s]earch, find and compare laws from 90 countries using a user-friendly search engine that is aimed at legal information professionals, not lawyers. Due note this important caveat: “Our service is entirely run by computer algorithms. Translations are not human-vetted. There may be inaccuracies in information due to our algorithmic extraction of information. Always consult the official source when making use of legal information.” FAQ here.

H/T to beSpacific. — Joe

Why did Lexis Advance never receive AALL’s New Product Award?

AALL’s annual New Product Award gives the recipient vendor free fodder for an advertising campaign and a dose of much needed good press each year. “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 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.” Quoting from AALL’s New Product Award page.

Thomson Reuters won the award for WestlawNext in 2011 and Bloomberg Law won for BLaw in 2012. What ever happened to Lexis Advance? Launched in 2011, Lexis Advance would have still been eligible for the award in 2013 but PLI’s PLI Discover PLUS received it that year. PLI Discover PLUS is an excellent service but…it’s not from a major vendor of what was then a next-generation search service like, for example, WestlawNext was at the time Thomson Reuters received its award. Besides, I believe, PLI Discover PLUS would have been eligible for the award in 2014.

Lexis Advance was no better or worse than WestlawNext and arguably better that BLaw back in 2011-2013. So I’m left wondering why LexisNexis never received AALL’s New Product Award. For that matter, why didn’t LexisNexis receive the New Product Award when it launched the first professional grade, enhanced law eBooks and/or the first law eBook lending platform, the LexisNexis Digital Library? If LexisNexis systematically enhances its secondary works accessed on Lexis Advance with videos as it did with one title, the Company might be eligible again because “products that have been reintroduced in a new format or with substantial changes are eligible.” — Joe

List of Previous AALL New Product Award Winners

2017: Casetext, Pablo Arredondo, Vice President, Legal Research, San Francisco, CA, CARA

2016: Ravel Law, Daniel Lewis, CEO and Co-Founder, San Francisco, CA, Judge Analytics

2015: Lex Machina, Josh Becker, CEO, Menlo Park, CA, Legal Analytics®

2014: William S. Hein & Co., Inc., Getzville, NY and Fastcase, Inc., Washington, D.C., HeinOnline/Fastcase Integration

2013: Practicing Law Institute, New York, NY, PLI Discover PLUS

2012: Bloomberg Law, New York, NY, Bloomberg Law

2011: WestlawNext Team, Eagan, MN, Thomson Reuters – WestlawNext

2010: Fastcase, Inc., Fastcase Legal Research iPhone App

2009: William S. Hein & Co., Inc., Subject Compilations of State Laws (HeinOnline)

2008: Cassidy Cataloging Services, Inc., WLX Cataloging Record Service (WLX E Treatise Collection, Lexis II Primary Sources, and Westlaw IV Journals & Law Reviews)

2007: No award

2006: No award

2005: Thomson Gale, The Making of Modern Law

2004: Jenkins Law Library & American Lawyer Media, http://www.palawlibrary.com

2003: No award

2002: No award

2001: W.S. Hein & Co., Inc., Hein-On-Line

2000: IndexMaster, Inc., IndexMaster

1999: West Group, Key Cite

1998: Congressional Information Services, Inc., CIS Congressional Universe

1997: BNA, Inc., Health Law & Business Series

1996: No award

1995: Shepard’s McGraw-Hill, Inc., How to Shepardize

It’s about time: LexisNexis publishes first multimedia secondary work

Since the foreshadowed demise of Lexis and Westlaw classic versions back in 2010 and 2011, I’ve been expecting to see the use of multimedia by our very expensive digital legal publishers in their newer search service platforms because it could be a transformative value-add-on for the traditional text-only electronic delivery of legal information. LexisNexis’ The Wagstaffe Group Practice Guide: Federal Civil Procedure Before Trial embeds 150+ short videos within the content of the work when you subscribe to the publication on Lexis Advance. LexisNexis press release. It appears, however, that the videos may not be embedded in a standalone eBook edition of this work. The work’s blurb notes “The eBook versions of this title feature links to Lexis Advance for further legal research options. Video content and links are exclusively available with a subscription to this title on Lexis Advance.” That’s disappointing but not unexpected; both Thomson Reuters and LexisNexis require a subscription to their search service to access resources linked to in their eBooks.

H/T to Bob Ambrogi’s LawSite post. See also Jean O’Grady’s Treatises are not dead they are just being transformed. Lexis Launches First Video Treatise. Can the Gamified Treatise Be Far Behind? — Joe

EdgeRack: Understanding the algorithmic basis of Facebook’s news feed

Reid Goldsborough describe the algorithmic basis for Facebook’s news feed, writing “The ever-changing algorithm behind Facebook’s news feed, called EdgeRank, is … crucial in today’s social media-infused world. It determines what you see when you check Facebook,” … adding … “Facebook is largely mum about EdgeRank, keeping many things private for competitive reasons. But based on what is publicly known as well as EdgeRank’s behavior, Facebook uses EdgeRank to help create your news feed mostly through Affinity Score, Edge Weight, and Time Decay.” Goldsborough proceeds by describing Affinity Score, Edge Weight, and Time Decay in layman’s terms. He also comments on the echo chamber effect of Facebook’s news feed in his Information Today article. Informative. — Joe

AALL awards Casetext’s Case Analysis Research Assistant product of the year

I must be getting old because when I read that AALL gave its annual product of the year award to Casetext’s CARA I didn’t know what it was. But Bob Ambrogi does. He reviewed the service last summer in New Casetext Feature Finds Relevant Cases For You, But Along With It Will Come New Pricing. CARA, which is short for Case Analysis Research Assistant, is a productivity enhancement tool for document review which automatically finds relevant cases to any document you upload into the system. Bob writes “[w]hat CARA is actually doing is comparing the cases in the uploaded document to the cases and articles in its database. For every case in the document, it is looking for other cases that are usually cited together with that case. It uses various indicators to weigh relevance, including how often two cases are cited together and how often they are discussed together in third-party articles contributed by Casetext users.” CARA’s output is a list of relevant cases not mentioned in the uploaded legal memorandum, brief, opinion letter or other document containing legal text.

Kudos to Casetext for creating what sounds like a useful tool. — Joe

“Low-cost can cost you” campaign: Does LexisNexis now acknowledge that Fastcase and Casemaker (and even Google Scholar) pose competitive threats?

On Lextalk, LexisNexis makes an obvious distinction: it offers resources low-cost search services do not provide. In a nutshell, Low-Cost Legal Research = Low-Value Results. LexisNexis Equips You with Much, Much More (March 18, 2017) claims that Lexis Advance is simply better because of its offerings (even if you don’t need the resources, tools and other value-add-ons). No metrics, no comparison of search engine performance, simply an unsubstantiated warning to lawyers that “cost savings usually equals case-law light,” meaning as displayed below, “low-cost can cost you.” See also Lextalk’s Low-Cost Legal Research: Go Cheap, Get Gaps. Go LexisNexis, Gain Confidence (Apr. 5, 2017).

In LexisNexis Comes Out Swinging Against Lower-Cost Legal Research Services, the Lawyerist’s Lisa Needham makes a perceptive observation: “What LexisNexis seems to overlook in their eagerness to go after everyone else is that it merely highlights how much they see things like Fastcase and Google Scholar as competition. If you’re scared enough to mount an entire campaign about how great you are and how terrible other services are, you’ve pretty much already acknowledged that they represent a legitimate threat. Fastcase and Casemaker should be nothing but proud to be highlighted in this fashion.”

Competition is definitely increasing in the small law market with Lexis, Westlaw and Fastcase in a virtual tie in the small law market and it does look like Lexis is mounting a campaign to acquire a larger install base in it. Lextalk recently published posts such as Texas Legal Research: 4 Ways to Get It Done Quickly, Thoroughly, Massachusetts Legal Research: 4 Ways to Get It Done Quickly, Thoroughly and Illinois Legal Research: 4 Ways to Get It Done Quickly, Thoroughly, all of which were published on April 25, 2017. Each post offers a discount for Lexis Advance that is limited to any attorney in a law firm with 1 – 50 attorneys. So has Lexis been losing ground to Casemaker and Fastcase in the Texas, Massachusetts and Illinois small law market? — Joe

End note: Members of the state bars of Texas, Massachusetts and Illinois receive Fastcase access as a membership benefit.

There is a new legal search service on the block and it intends to compete with Lexis Advance and Westlaw

Judicata is a legal search service still evolving into becoming a fully-fledged, professional grade one but it is getting very close to being ready. The search service already claims to be better than WEXIS. According to Judicata’s CEO Itai Gurari, “[w]e’ve focused on building a search engine that returns the best results the fastest, and at this point it mops the floor with Westlaw and Lexis.” Why? Because Judicata is mapping the law with extreme accuracy and granularity. Bob Ambrogi was given an opportunity to test drive Judicata yesterday and reports his findings today at After Five Years in Stealth Mode, Judicata Reveals Its Legal Research Service. Recommended. — Joe

How a network of bills become a law: What can be learned from GovTrack’s text incorporation analysis for legislative history research

A new analytical tool incorporated into GovTrack late last year reveals when provisions of bills are incorporated into other bills by way of text incorporation analysis. “Only about 3% of bills will be enacted through the signature of the President or a veto override. Another 1% are identical to those bills, so-called ‘companion bills,’ which are easily identified. Our new analysis reveals almost another 3% of bills which had substantial parts incorporated into an enacted bill in 2015–2016. To miss that last 3% is to be practically 100% wrong about how many bills are being enacted by Congress,” writes GovTrack. For details see GovTrack’s blog post and illustration of this new technique. — Joe

Source: Govtrack

Under the search bar: The web’s most valuable real estate for ads

In How Google Cashes In on the Space Right Under the Search Bar (NYT, Apr. 23, 2017), Daisuke Wakabayashi wrote, “[w]hen Google’s parent company, Alphabet, reports earnings this week, the internet giant’s big profits are expected to demonstrate yet again that the billboard space accompanying Google queries is the web’s most valuable real estate for advertisements,” adding

In the 17 years since Google introduced text-based advertising above search results, the company has allocated more space to ads and created new forms of them. The ad creep on Google has pushed “organic” (unpaid) search results farther down the screen, an effect even more pronounced on the smaller displays of smartphones.

The changes are profound for retailers and brands that rely on leads from Google searches to drive online sales. With limited space available near the top of search results, not advertising on search terms associated with your brand or displaying images of your products is tantamount to telling potential customers to spend their money elsewhere.

— Joe

JPMorgan’s COIN does the mind-numbing job of interpreting commercial loan agreements

COIN, short for Contract Intelligence, is JPMorgan’s in-house learning machine that parses financial deals, deals that once took lawyers thousands of hours to perform. In JPMorgan Software Does in Seconds What Took Lawyers 360,000 Hours, Bloomberg Markets’ Hugh Son provides a backgrounder on COIN. — Joe

Bloomberg Law gets a make-over

Spurred by customer complaints about the difficulty they experienced navigating BLaw, Bloomberg Law has rolled out a streamlined user interface for conducting searches and finding specific types of content. For much more, see Bob Ambrogi’s In Major Redesign, Bloomberg Law Streamlines Its Search Interface. — Joe

Help! New HeinOnline Knowledge Base launched

Here. See also Bonnie Hein’s blog post. — Joe