The Next Development in A.I.: Certification

Law librarians are no strangers to discussion and critique of artificial intelligence systems and their potential benefits and hazards, both in legal practice and in society at large. A short list of recent law librarian scholarship in this area includes:

With the growing number of stories of A.I.-gone-wrong, such as the (now scrubbed) A.I. system Amazon tried to introduce into their recruiting program a few years ago that was discovered to disfavor female applicants, several initiatives have arisen, calling for certification of artificial intelligence. In March, Lyle Moran, writing for the ABA Journal, reported on this wave of projects, focusing particularly on one spearheaded by Gillian Hadfield, a law professor at the University of Toronto. Her project, a partnership between U. Toronto’s Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology & Society and AI Global, aims to develop an international framework for identifying ethically responsible A.I. systems.

I won’t spoil the whole article for you, but if you are interested in the increasing influence of A.I. systems in law and society and efforts to ensure their responsible development and implementation, I encourage you to give Moran’s article a read (and watch for a shoutout to Casetext’s Compose product!). As many members of the law librarian community have noted for years, attorneys’ exposure to A.I. systems, whether through their clients’ A.I. use or within the legal industry itself, demands that legal practitioners understand the implications of A.I. in the law; as trained information evaluators, law librarians are poised to provide this education and expertise.

Prepare to Practice, New and Notable: The Ever-Growing Collection of Practice Ready Tools from Bloomberg Law, Lexis, and Westlaw

prepare to practice graphic

At this time of the year, as the spring semester winds down (how is that already possible?!?), my mind always seems to wander to thoughts of law students heading off to their summer jobs, putting their legal analysis, writing, and research skills to the test in a real-world setting. These thoughts then naturally drift to the many practice-focused products legal information vendors offer. In this post, I highlight the new and notable products from Bloomberg Law, Lexis, and Westlaw.

Bloomberg Law

The first development that caught my eye was Bloomberg Law’s new In Focus: Core Skills – Litigation feature in the Litigation Intelligence Center. This resource begins with quick links to core research tools, such as their docket search, court opinions search, and litigation analytics, and includes a box of links to litigation-related reference materials, such as the ABA’s “How to Succeed as a Trial Lawyer.” But the other thing that struck me about this resource were the visual aids, including two flowcharts, one on research and writing and one on document review; and an interesting graphic about the variety of Bloomberg Law resources available across the platform. Legal research databases have so much rich content today that it can be a challenge to know what all is available; while I am sure this graphic doesn’t cover everything in Bloomberg Law, it is an interesting method of introducing users to the types of resources and tools at their disposal.

While we’re at it, I’d like to give a shout-out, in general, to the entire In Focus series on Bloomberg Law. These are great information portals on an array of timely topics in law and law practice. Most recently I’ve found the In Focus: Lawyer Well-Being resource of particular interest, with sample surveys and forms for the workplace, quick links to state lawyer assistance programs, and other news and analysis on the subject of wellness in the legal profession.

The In Focus series is by no means the only practice-focused tool in Bloomberg Law. From the Brief Analyzer to the Draft Analyzer, Practical Guidance to Practice Centers, not to mention the Certification Courses law students can take, there are many, many resources users can take advantage of to build their practical skills.

Lexis+

Two newer practice-focused tools in Lexis+ are Practical Guidance and Brief Analysis, both off to the left of the Lexis+ home page. In Practical Guidance, you can search or browse by practice area, task, jurisdiction, or content type (here, content types include documents such as checklists, practice notes, and clauses, rather than statutes, cases, and secondary sources). Additional tools here include everything from state comparison tools to smart forms to training videos.

Brief Analysis, similar to Bloomberg Law’s Brief Analyzer, scans a user’s work product and uses the Lexis+ research platform to seek out any additional or alternative recommended authority based on the arguments made in the uploaded document. Brief Analysis even scans the uploaded document for viruses!

Again, these are two of the more recent, but certainly not the only, practice-focused tools from LexisNexis. With their own set of trainings and certification courses, not to mention their many practice-focused add-on products, such as Lexis Tax and Products Liability Navigator, there are a variety of tools here too that students might use to become more efficient in their legal research and analysis.

Westlaw Edge

Westlaw’s best known practice-focused suite of tools, of course, is Practical Law, with its checklists, practice notes, sample forms, and more, covering a variety of legal subjects and specific law tasks. In the student Law School Survival Guide, the Practical Law editors have even put together a series of podcast episodes about careers in various areas of law. Like Bloomberg Law and Lexis, Westlaw too has training videos and certifications, from basic to advanced research skills, transactional to litigation skills, and even a specific and separate prepare to practice certification. Similar to Lexis’s Brief Analysis and Bloomberg Law’s Brief Analyzer, Westlaw’s Quick Check tool helps the user analyze their own legal document by suggesting additional or alternative legal authority.

Whether a student will be working in a transactional or litigation environment this summer, whether they prefer, or will be restricted to the use of, Bloomberg Law, Lexis, or Westlaw, all three offer an ever-growing variety of practice-ready tools and certifications to help them build their skills and make a great impression with their summer employer.

HeinOnline’s New (and Improved) Search Box

HeinOnline has updated their search box so that it is now more streamlined and easier to use. Regular users of HeinOnline will know that the original search required you to select the appropriate tab based on the search parameters you wanted to set (i.e. Full Text, Citation, Catalog, or Caselaw). If you failed to select the correct tab, wacky results would ensue (like searching a citation in Catalog).

While this was a minor inconvenience, it was nevertheless an inconvenience. HeinOnline has removed it, relplacing it with the One-Box Search. The new search box allows you to type in your search terms and offers the fields for you to complete your search. The generated options include “Just search for” (the new “Full Text”), Author, Title, Citation, and Catalog. This change is also made in the advanced search field which is now more streamlined.

You can read more about the One-Box Search box, as well as other HeinOnline features and updates on the HeinOnline Blog.

Document Analytics in Academia

Is there a place for document analytics products in the law school legal research curriculum?

Document analytics platforms have a big footprint on the legal tech landscape, and at least one is nudging its way into academia. Newcomer Kira https://kirasystems.com/  is offering a “Kira for Education” initiative to some in the academic community. Kira provides a machine-learning platform that identifies, extracts, and analyzes language in documents the user can drag and drop into a template. Kira also offers a customizable search tool that allows users to highlight sample document language and create their own custom platform. Kira can search documents written in other Latin-based languages, including English, French, and Spanish.   Contract analytics products have been on the market for years, although these products don’t typically target law schools.  LawGeex, LinkSquares, Contract Wrangler, Affinitext, IntelAgree, and Docusign are just a few of the many contract analytic products currently available.

Some academic research platforms currently provide access to programs that can assist with contract drafting. Lexis Practical Guidance offers “Smart Forms” that include sample customizable forms for various industries and in numerous jurisdictions. These forms contain drafting note advice that alert the user to specific legal issues when incorporating certain language. Bloomberg Law’s Draft Analyzer allows the user to upload a contract and will compare clauses in that contract to other similar contract language within its database.  Bloomberg is currently beta testing an analyzer for merger agreements.  Westlaw offers “Contract Express,” but this product is not included in academic accounts.

Even with an already crowded legal research curriculum, it may be time to consider the best way to expose our students to these increasingly popular products. It would also be great to hear from our colleagues in law firms about which of these products seem to be getting the most traction, so that we can better prepare our students for practice.

FastCase-Casemaker Merger Seeks to Create More Robust Cost-Effective Legal Research Alternative

On January 5, 2021 FastCase and Casemaker announced a merger. FastCase and Casemaker provide a cost-effective alternative to other legal research databases. According to the CEO of FastCase, Bar associations in all 50 states provide FastCase or Casemaker at no or low cost, so the merger creates the largest lawyer subscriber base of any legal research database.

Although the merger was announced 2 months ago, the two companies still provide two separate databases. Since the announcement, the companies are working on ways to combine their resources to provide the best service to their customers. The first half of the year will be spent examining the two products and deciding how best to merge the existing platforms. Both companies bring different strengths to the merger.

In the last few years, FastCase acquired several companies that strengthened and broadened its services, including Docket Alarm, Next Chapter, Law Street Media, and Judicata. Docket Alarm provides docket tracking and litigation analytics. Next Chapter is a practice software that provides attorneys with assistance preparing, managing, and filing bankruptcy cases. Law Street Media is a legal news service. Judicata is another legal research service that provides advanced legal search tools for researching and analyzing California law. FastCase is working to expand that technology to their much larger database. In addition to its various acquisitions, FastCase has developed a publishing arm under the name Full Court Press, to provide practice guides and other secondary sources.

Casemaker is known for its continuous updating of state codes, and regulations. They also provide support products, such as CaseDigest, CaseCheck+, and CasemakerLibra. CaseDigest provides summaries of Federal and State case law, produced by attorney editors. CaseCheck+ is a citator that provides users with information about negative treatment of case law. CasemakerLibra provides a library of secondary sources, published by CaseMaker.

Anticipating the benefits of combining the best of both platforms, it is possible that the FastCase-Casemaker merger will create a robust and substantial low-cost alternative to other legal research databases.

CRIV/LexisNexis Semiannual Call

Date: January 14, 2021, 10:00 a.m. EST

Participants:

  • Carolyn Bach, Senior Manager, Librarian Relations & Faculty Programs, LexisNexis
  • Simon Weierman, Senior Director, Segment Management, LexisNexis
  • Vani Ungapen, AALL Executive Director
  • Karen Selden, AALL CRIV Board Liaison
  • Ashley Ahlbrand, CRIV LexisNexis Liaison

Product Brand Updates: Rebranding and streamlining of several existing product names, making it easier for customers to identify and navigate LexisNexis® products (September 2020):

Lexis+™:

Commercial product launch of Lexis+ (September 2020). Released to the law school market in July, and commercial markets in September

  • Feature-rich, premium legal solution that unites advanced research, Practical Guidance, Brief Analysis and enhanced tools with a modern user experience to deliver data-driven insights, greater efficiency and better outcomes
  • Dramatic visual styling and simplified layout designed to set a new standard in ease of use 
  • Striking imagery, bold colors and typography to help improve readability, reduce visual “clutter” and emphasize essential information and tasks
  • New Experience Dock that creates an integrated starting point for core legal tasks and enables seamless switching between product experiences and workflows
  • New and intuitive features, such as Search Tree, Code Compare and Shepard’s® At Risk, to make it easy for practitioners to access the information and insights they need, control their search experience and provide better counsel
  • Delivers on the demand for legal solutions that look and work more like the modern technology products attorneys use in their personal lives

Multiple incremental updates to Lexis+ following initial commercial market rollout (October through December 2020)

  • New “light/dark” home page toggle option
  • Code Compare feature updates with expanded coverage, additional display options and delivery support
  • Shepard’s At Risk enhancements that display within Shepard’s reports
  • Brief Analysis enhancements including the Shepard’s Preview, At Risk indicator and Cited in Your Document tab, updated with more information and additional delivery options
  • Work folders enhancements to enable document highlights and annotations without saving to a folder
  • Search relevance improvements launched to drive more relevant case law results
  • Lexis Answers® feature updates to recognize implicit questions and offer answers curated from Practical Guidance

Lexis+ and Lexis®: Incremental platform updates applicable to Lexis+ and Lexis

  • New Exclusion Filter added to News search results to filter out “noise” from news, including stock stories, non-business news and obituaries 
  • 861K new trial court cases, briefs, pleadings and motions added online 
  • Acquired American Maritime Cases, a specialized collection of maritime and admiralty cases and AMC’s in-depth index of maritime topics, to become the exclusive provider moving forward 

Law360® updates:

  •  Launch of Law360 Employment Authority (December 2020): Law360 Employment Authority, offering actionable intelligence for employment lawyers through exclusive insights, in-depth analysis and deep news coverage. Covers three key areas in employment law: discrimination, wage and hour and labor. Each section offering breaking news, timely features and thoughtful analyses for readers who specialize in labor and employment law
  • My Law360, enabling customization for  Law360 & Law360® Pulse news and analysis experience

Law360 Pulse: a new product offering that released in early January 2021

  • Brand-new Law360 Pulse business-of-law news service, combining the award-winning journalism and research of Law360 with powerful data and analytics from Lexis+ to deliver unparalleled coverage, timely insights and industry intelligence to help law firms and legal departments succeed   
  • Complements the industry-leading Law360 practice-of-law coverage, giving legal professionals a single best source for comprehensive legal news with LexisNexis

Practical Guidance:

  • Launch of new Market Standards for M&A solutions (October, 2020): the new Market Standards for M&A solution enables searching, comparison and analysis of publicly filed M&A deals, helping users jump from insight to action with the most current and comprehensive M&A coverage—and the interactive analytics needed to make more data-driven decisions.
  • Multiple incremental updates to the Practical Guidance product to aid users in locating critical guidance, improving their document drafting experience and sharing greater insights with users:
  • Enabled alerts on Practical Guidance at the document level to track changes in the law that affect their practice
  • Enhanced forms on Practical Guidance, enabling users to download forms with in-line drafting notes and alternate/optional clauses so they can better engage with annotated forms
  • Updates to improve discoverability and navigation of International Practical Guidance content
  • Refined Practical Guidance search experience to offer a combined search result that surfaces all Practical Guidance content in a single place
  • Launched Clause Finder on Practical Guidance to help users quickly research and find relevant clauses by Agreement Type, Point of View (i.e., buyer/seller) and Jurisdiction
  • Launched the Survey of Commercial Lease Terms in Practical Guidance, providing up-to-date intelligence about the commercial leasing market and giving real estate attorneys a clear view of market standards and trends to aid them in lease negotiations

Courtlink®: Multiple product updates to improve CourtLink ease of use

  • Updated alert and track result display in table format with additional view and delivery options
  • Support to save favorite courts for searching to simplify and streamline docket research
  • Search improvements, including a unified search form, for a simplified search experience
  • Support added to edit the criteria of existing alerts
  • Improved Summary Alert email presentation for easier review and deeper insight

Lexis® Search Advantage: Multiple updates to drive greater insights and efficiency for users

  • Released Context and Lexis Search Advantage integration, enabling Lexis Search Advantage users to link from references within firm documents to judges, attorneys and expert witnesses into Context to gather insight and analytics on the entity
  • Rolled out new motion type and sub-type document classifications to enable precise search and filtering of firm documents within Lexis Search Advantage | Litigation
  • Refined the landing and results pages of Lexis Search Advantage | Litigation to support customization and research integration

Lexis® Verdict & Settlement Analyzer: New Lexis Verdict & Settlement Analyzer search filters including Filter by Judge, Filter by Attorney and improved Practice Area and Topics filtering

InterAction®: Updates to this business development solution

  • Launch of “Strategic Data” subscription tier
  • Embedded analytics—visualizations on process status and integrated views of relationships
  • Nexis Newsdesk™ embedded into user interface for easy view of public news information curated to contacts
  • Partner integrations with Foundation Software (integrated experience management) and Bunnell Idea Group (video coaching on business development)

Nexis Newsdesk: Multiple enhancements to improve administrator ease of use and efficiency of relevant information distribution through Nexis Newsdesk, improved readability for end-users

  • Launch of entity cards to help ensure accuracy of news results by matching to companies
  • Simplified process to add topics to searches within Nexis Newsdesk
  • Refreshed Manage Sources page for administrative ease of use
  • Updated clipping flow for selecting content
  • Ability to access saved content from landing page
  • New Trends Chart for additional insights
  • New Post-Search Filter to avoid duplicates
  • Article load date replaced with publish date per user feedback 
  • Readability of newsletters through mobile devices improved through mobile friendly newsletter theme
  • Self-service support for managing Twitter feeds within Nexis Newsdesk

Web Newsletter Easy Subscribe to permit readers to opt-in for email delivery when using a web link

New Librarian Resources:

  • Competitive Intelligence Toolkit: a comprehensive resource, created with the assistance of CI specialists, designed to help law librarians and other legal professionals complete CI research more efficiently as it relates to the LexisNexis® products they have access to. The kit Includes helpful checklists for public companies, private companies, industries, attorneys, law firms and people
  • LexisNexis® InfoPro site: contains a variety of updated resources for legal information professionals, including research tips, webinars, newsletter content and product information

Guest Blog: Supporting Our Consortial Partners

Guest Blog from Cynthia Bassett, Collection Management & Electronic Services Librarian at University of Missouri School of Law.

I would like to confess – I made a mistake this fall while renewing access to a database that I think might have bigger ramifications in our profession than I am comfortable with. But let me rewind and give some context.

I am new to my role as the head of a Collection Management department. I have been an electronic services librarian for a number of years so I am familiar with providing access to a database and managing its life cycle. As an electronic services librarian, I did not participate in negotiations with vendors or decisions about which partners to work with to secure a purchase. The actual purchase of the databases had always been handled by my predecessor.

Since my predecessor’s retirement, I have begun to learn the acquisitions process. I have some influence (subject to director approval) regarding where I purchase a resource. This spring, I was having some difficulty working with a consortial partner to purchase a needed database. It was the only purchase that my library made with that particular consortium; I thought it would be easier to move the purchase to a consortium that I work with regularly, if the price was similar and reasonable. While in the process of making this change, I spoke to a vendor rep personally and they offered me a better deal to work directly with the vendor, cutting the consortium out of the middle. 

I took the deal. 

Of course, we had every right to take the deal. In the short term view, it was smart to take the deal because it saved my library money at a time when our budget has been cut and cut again. But I question why we were offered the deal in the first place and I think I made a rookie error that possibly weakens the profession at large by diminishing the purchasing power of the consortium. Much like a monopoly is harmful to the buying public and union busting is harmful to labor, I think my failure to support the consortium may weaken it a bit, making it less powerful in its next negotiation with that vendor, and then with all the other vendors. And I may have ultimately weakened my own position by leaving the group negotiation. Possibly I got a slightly better deal this time, but next time may not be so favorable.  

I am curious what other, more experienced, collection librarians think about their duty to buy consortially. Do they feel they have a duty or is the higher duty to saving their library money? Are vendors eager to separate us so that eventually we don’t stick with group, weakening our individual and collective bargaining power? Is my one small decision a ripple in a pond that may have larger ramifications than I realize? Time, and experience, will tell. 

CRIV Bloomberg Bi-Annual Call

Date: December 17, 2020. Approximately 2;00 to 3:00 pm EST

Participants:

  • Joe Breda, President, Bloomberg Law
  • Lauren Kaplan, BLAW Strategy and Customer Experience
  • Vani Ungapen, AALL Executive Director
  • Karen Selden, AALL CRIV Board Liaison
  • Tom Hemstock, AALL Bloomberg Law Liaison

Note: Due to extenuating circumstances, Mike Bernier, Bloomberg Law Director of Library Relations was not able to make the call but he did provide follow up information.

Agenda

  • New Bloomberg Law Developments and News
  • Questions
  • Requests for Advocacy
  • Other

New Bloomberg Law Developments and News

Analyzers

2020 was the “Year of the Analyzers” for Bloomberg Law as several new analyzer products launched:

  • Brief Analyzer. Users upload a brief and see integrated points of law, suggested content, connections to the material, and links to practical guidance.
  • Draft Analyzer. Enhanced version launching in January 2021. Features include the ability to break contracts into clauses, link into defined terms, determine if those terms are standard market terms, and compare with thousands of other clauses on file.

Practical Guidance

Bloomberg Law added more than a thousand new practical guidance documents in 2020. These attorney-focused documents provide short practical guidance on new areas of the law with features such as annotated forms, explanations and overviews. In 2020 these items saw 100% increase in use.

Hot Topics

New hot topics on developing legal issues such as COVID-19 are available from the go bar menu. These hot topics highlight and combine available resources on a specific timely legal topic.

Legal News

Bloomberg Law is increasing coverage of usability of legal news. [Note: Following this call, on January 5, 2021, Bloomberg Law announced that ALM material is now available on Bloomberg law.] Additional features on legal news is also available as newsletters and now have table of contents and increased number of subjects for news topics. Personalized news is in beta testing.

Questions

Although there was not a specific request for advocacy regarding the change in policy regarding docket usage for law schools, Bloomberg clarified that up to $1500 of individual account docket usage is free of charge.

Bloomberg’s representatives estimated that 99%+ of academic users will not be affected by the new change in docket pricing.

Bloomberg clarified that approximately 50 to 60 individual academic account users were responsible for driving a huge amount of the cost.

Law school accounts can monitor their usage via a port on Bloomberg Law and should contact their representative for details on accessing this information.

Requests for Advocacy

None at this time. All issues currently resolved.

AALL Programs, Activities, or Business of Interest to Bloomberg Law

None at this time.

Other Items of Interest

None at this time.

CRIV-Wolters Kluwer Bi-Annual Liaison Call

Conference call took place on Tuesday, December 21, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. PST.  Call adjourned at 10:18 a.m. PST.

Participants were:

  • Jenna Ellis, Wolters Kluwer Liaison
  • Vani Ungapen, AALL Executive Director
  • Karen Selden, AALL, CRIV Board Liaison
  • Cynthia Condit, AALL, CRIV Wolters Kluwer Liaison

Agenda:

Wolters Kluwer Programs, Activities, or Business of Interest to CRIV and/or AALL:

Announcements/Updates: New Practical Content Solution

  • Wolters Kluwer launched a new Practical Content solution this past fall.  Available through your regular Cheetah subscription, the new toolkit provides an intuitive, easy to use Practical Content Dashboard.  As a single point of access to all practical content, the dashboard connects users to more than 20,000 practical content tools and documents.
  • The Dashboard allows filtering by practice area and practical content type so the user can quickly see everything that is available.  The standard Cheetah search functionality applies to the dashboard, as well as each practical content type.  Users will also find the practical content expanded and standardized.
  • The dashboard features SmartCharts, SmartTasks, Guidebooks, AnswerBooks, Decision Trees, Forms, and Calculators, and Checklists.  See screenshots below.

Announcements/Updates: Legislative Tracking Integrated into Cheetah

  • The Federal Developments Knowledge Center (FDKC) has been enhanced with a new range of features and is available on 18 practice area dashboards.
  • FDKC allows users to monitor all newly issued executive actions, proposed bills and rules, enacted laws and final rules in real time across more than 800 agencies and sub-agencies of the federal government.
  • Some specific new features include:
    • Real-time alerts: customizable alerts on legislation, rules, and executive actions.
    • Source documents: FDKC provides quick access to source documents from Congress, the executive branch, and federal agencies.
    • Practice area-specific alerts: users can access synopses, impacts, and next step analyses on legislation, rules, and actions curated by Wolters Kluwer deep domain experts.
  • The FDKC platform allows users to research current laws and regulations and potential legislative changes all in one place.  It is available by separate subscription.

Requests for Advocacy:

  • None at this time; all issues currently resolved.

ALL Programs, Activities, or Business of Interest to Wolters Kluwer:

  • Reminder of annual meeting sponsorship opportunity.

Other Items of Interest:

  • None at this time.

 

CRIV/Thomson Reuters Biannual Phone Call

Conference call took place on December 2 at 11:00 AM EST.

Participants:

  • Deborah Heller – CRIV Thomson Reuters Liaison
  • Vani Ungapen – AALL Executive Director
  • Karen Selden – AALL CRIV Board Liaison
  • Kim Hurley – Information Management Advisor at Thomson Reuters
  • Rachel Torgerson – Customer Success Strategist at Thomson Reuters
  • Rachel Beithon, Product Developer, Litigation Analytics
  • Rebecca Ditsch, Manager, Product Development, Westlaw Today
  • Craig Vaughn, Senior Product Manager, Practical Law

Agenda:

  • Practical Law’s new Health Care Service
    • Developed and maintained by a team with decades of experience in the health law field.
    • Includes 6 topics at launch:
      • Clinical Trials and Research
      • Fraud, Abuse, and Compliance
      • Health Care Entity Formation and Governance
      • Patient Privacy and Security
      • Payment and Reimbursement
      • General Healthcare
    • Includes State Q&A resources, although not all states are available at launch. Information includes:
      • Data Breach Notification Laws
      • Fraud and Abuse Laws
      • Non-Physician Practitioners
    • Includes Multi-State Charts:
      • Physician Licensing Requirements
      • Consent to be Treated
      • Telehealth Requirements for Private Payers
  • Westlaw Edge Litigation Analytics Enhancement
    • Several updates throughout 2020:
      • Interface
      • Active judges pages
      • Additions to Case Type such as public health emergency cases and police conduct
      • Filter to remove MDL cases by default
      • Attorney Finder
        • Search by name and expertise
        • Allows filtering by case type, court, judge, etc.
        • Defaults to motions for summary judgment, but can be adjusted.
        • Allows for comparison
      • Updated Case Type Taxonomy to make materials easier to find and more cohesive
      • Added Damages for Federal District Courts
        • Available from the Courts page
        • Includes civil dockets
        • Data coming from dockets with monetary awards and/or attorney fees or litigation costs. Only dockets where all damages could be determined with sufficient confidence are included
        • Coverage begins from January 1, 2000
        • Coverage varies by jurisdiction
        • Includes a distribution chart with ranges of award in terms of percentage of dockets included
        • Provides a median award amount
        • Monetary awards and attorney fees and costs are separated
  • Westlaw Today, new TR legal news platform, powered by Reuters
    • Accessible in two ways:
      • Via Westlaw Edge or Westlaw Classic using the product picker
    • Includes 30 different practice areas
    • Content comes from several different providers
    • Reuters hired 14 new legal journalists who will contribute to the platform, two of which were recently hired for the service
    • Allows users to submit an article idea via a widget on the homepage
      • Everything is vetted, but this allows for dialogue between the publication and potential authors
    • Provides list of trending companies and law firms derived from recent legal news stories
    • Provides RSS feed delivery
    • For readers with Westlaw Edge, you can click through to the analytics page for attorneys and judges. For users without Westlaw Edge, you will see the person’s profile page
    • Daily Email alerts go out at 8:00 AM ET
      • You can customize alerts to get any or all of the practice areas
      • Alerts can be combined into a single email
      • You can also follow a company in the news
    • The Daily Docket is a Reuters and Westlaw newsletter, which is free and does not require purchase of a TR product
      • Provides a round-up of what is happening (latest news on the courts, lawyers, and legal profession)
    • There are periodic breaking news alerts
  • Updates to Billing
    • Improved communication of billing
      • Also providing electronic invoicing
      • PDF is included in the notice sent out rather than requiring users to follow a link
    • New sale invoice and debit invoice redesign released in May
    • New subscription invoice, monthly account summary, credit note, and pro forma invoices released in September
      • Easier to find the amount due and due dates
      • Clearly displays any payments received
      • Credit notes highlight the amount of a credit and that payment is not required
      • Hyperlinks throughout the document
      • The Monthly Account Statement displays the cleared charges for the previous month as well as any open balance as of the date of the invoice
      • Box at the top displays information about amounts due and due dates
    • Redesign of online invoices coming in Q2 of 2021

In legal tech, complexity is overrated.

A recent survey from the ABA shows that law firms remain slow to adopt AI products. https://tinyurl.com/ABATechSurveyArticle  In fact, just 7% of respondents reported they use AI tech tools, with questions about accuracy and the cost offered as the primary reasons for the slow uptake. Since the survey was conducted in the initial months of the pandemic, this might come as a surprise. As we all spend our days on Zoom, technology adoption has been at the forefront of efforts to increase productivity while decreasing the need for personal interaction. However, the fundamental problem with many of the newer AI legal research tools is that they do not yet replace any necessary steps in the legal research process. Why incur the cost of these programs and invest in learning them without any consistent benefit, particularly at a time when firms are looking to cut costs?

AI products leave us in a conundrum in the research teaching community. As a group of early adopters when it comes to legal tech, we have been disappointed at the lack of transparency when it comes to understanding the search algorithms or the opportunity to experiment with some of these products. There is also often aggressive marketing directly to our students, who don’t understand these products either and come to us for guidance. We want to keep our students abreast of the latest technology that can help them in their legal careers. However, it is hard to teach students about a product we don’t understand.

Legal analytics products (for example, those products that correlate rulings and motion success rates), on the other hand, seem to be getting better law firm traction. However, even analytics products can give uneven results. A recent ABA article highlighted a study by law librarians at two large firms comparing search results between analytics platforms, and discovered wide variations in response to simple research commands. https://tinyurl.com/yyffw7jv . The authors’ takeaway was a familiar one: vendors must provide transparency, training and guidance on the use of their products.

Simplicity may be the key to longevity for all of these products, an idea underscored by a recent story in Legaltech news from Law.com, which describes law firm reluctance to give up Excel for more complicated management products https://tinyurl.com/y562hsvv .  Products marketed with transparency in their database content and search algorithms may ultimately win the day. Such products are easier to teach and inspire confidence in their results.  In this time of Covid-19, when we are all starting to feel tech fatigue, there may be a message here for our vendors. Remember the well-worn acronym, KISS (keep it simple, silly).

Thomson Reuters Unveils Westlaw Today

Leveraging its connections with Reuters news, Westlaw recently revealed a new news product called Westlaw Today. For any academic libraries, you can access Westlaw Today on the product switcher when you sign-in to your Westlaw Edge account or at today.westlaw.com. The homepage provides the latest legal news, attorney analysis, and most viewed articles. There is also a link to submit an article or sign-up for notifications. The service also has 30 practice areas that gather news articles on those particular legal topics.

According to their own literature, news comes from a variety of sources including CQ Roll Call, the Hill, and more. Editorial teams at the new publication include attorneys as well as legal editors who monitor the different practice areas. There is also something called the Daily Docket, which is a morning newsletter that provides the headlines for the day.

John Jay Papers Added to Founders Online

The National Archives National Historical Publications and Records Commission and the University of Virginia completed a project to add select papers of John Jay to Founders Online. The John Jay papers in the collection are derived from the Jay Papers Project at Columbia University’s Rare Books & Manuscript Library.

Founders Online is a fully searchable database of correspondence and other writings from George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Adams and other members of his family, and now John Jay. Over 185,000 documents are included in the collection. Founders online began back in 2010. Only the works of Alexander Hamilton have been fully completed at this point. It is expected that when work is completed there will be about 200,000 documents freely available. Researchers can search by author, recipient, and even period.

DocuSign Releases DocuSign Analyzer

On September 30, 2020, DocuSign announced the release of their DocuSign Analyzer, which is a contract analytics tool powered by AI. It is an extension of their existing Insight product, which helps with searching through agreements a company already has. Analyzer reviews new contracts when first received and looks for risks within the document relating to legal, sales, and procurement. Analyzer works by breaking down a document into component clauses and then looks at them based on the company’s standards, both legal and business. It will also recommend changes to language used in the document based on a library of pre-approved clauses. Results are available in Microsoft Word, Outlook, and the DocuSign Contract Lifecycle Management Solution.

Fastcase Acquired Judicata

Fastcase announced its acquisition of California based Judicata at the beginning of the month. Judicata is a legal search tool for California state law that focuses on providing precise results by harnessing the power of artificial intelligence. Judicata was founded in 2012. The intention is to use the power that Judicata built in relation to California law and develop it for a wider legal audience. Fastcase is working on development of Fastcase 8, the newest version of its research platform, using Judicata as the underlying backbone. The Judicata team will be joining Fastcase to work on the integration of Judicata with Fastcase.