The Axis of Access:

2017 has been an incredible year of legal tech innovation, possibly signaling a golden age in the legal research field in particular. On Tuesday, July 18, Susan Nevelow Mart, Director of the Law Library at Colorado Law, and Ed Walters, the CEO of Fastcase, will survey the year’s developments in a panel conversation at the American Association of Law Libraries Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas. The panelists will be CEOs of three of the most innovative legal research startups in North America: Jake Heller of Casetext, Daniel Lewis of Ravel Law, and Andrew Arruda of ROSS Intelligence.

It’s going to be a remarkable panel — a rare opportunity to have three legal tech entrepreneurs on the same stage discussing new projects, challenges, and their visions for the future. As a primer for the panel, here are some of the projects that the panelists will discuss.

Jake Heller, Casetext

Casetext empowers attorneys to research dramatically more efficiently and not miss important cases. Utilizing AI and machine learning, we’re moving legal research away from search tools that rely on error-prone and cumbersome boolean queries and toward context-aware, simple research. Casetext’s flagship product, CARA, enables attorneys to find highly-tailored results simply by dragging-and-dropping a brief. CARA uses the context of the brief — the cases cited and issues discussed — to understand what the attorney is working on. In seconds, CARA searches millions of documents to return the cases and briefs that are most useful to the researcher.

Over the past year, CARA has become even more useful for attorneys. CARA Brief Finder, launched only two months ago, empowers litigators to see how other elite attorneys argued the same issues in filed briefs, simply by dragging-and-dropping their brief. CARA also now automatically provides suggested search terms to allow attorneys to home in on a particular issue with a single click. Moving forward, Casetext will continue developing cutting-edge technologies that makes legal research more efficient and allows litigators to devote less time searching for cases and more time crafting arguments, writing briefs, and winning cases.

Daniel Lewis, Ravel Law

Ravel is releasing ground-breaking products at a breakneck pace. This includes, most recently, Firm Analytics, which uses machine learning to provide new competitive intelligence, performance-based firm rankings, and research into firms’ litigation activity.

Firm Analytics is Ravel’s fourth major launch in the past year — following the highly successful introductions of Judge Analytics 2.0, Court Analytics, and Motion Analytics — and represents a new product offering that continues to expand beyond traditional research.

Andrew Arruda, ROSS Intelligence

Legal research is shifting from a profit to cost center. Meanwhile, the volume of legal information continues to balloon. ROSS is an artificially intelligent service that assists lawyers with legal research, cutting down research time by up to 80%.

Traditional research services spew data requiring users to sort through it painstakingly. These keyword based services include unrelated results and exclude related results based on the inclusion and exclusion of keywords. They can’t comprehend legal language.

ROSS uses algorithms inspired by the human brain called deep neural networks to return the exact sentences from the body of legal authorities that answer lawyers’ research questions. ROSS’ deep neural networks can understand words meaning, contextual usage, and importance in a sentence. In essence, they can comprehend legal language.

We are now working on using ROSS’ proprietary technology to write legal memorandums. We will put our technology to more uses with the goal of freeing lawyers time to focus on higher value activities for their clients.

Ed Walters, Fastcase

Fastcase has launched Fastcase 7, a complete platform upgrade that’s more visual, includes a semantic tag cloud filter, a beefed up Bad Law Bot, and universal search over a jaw-droppingly beautiful search platform. It also includes Cloud Linking, a new feature that automatically identifies and creates public links to caselaw in Word or PDF documents such as briefs. Fastcase 7 also opens the Fastcase relevance algorithm so that individual researchers can see, and customize for themselves, Fastcase’s relevance factors — no more “black box” algorithm.

One of the most exciting things Fastcase has recently launched is its AI Sandbox. The secure platform allows firms to upload information such as client-matter billing data, firm work product such as briefs and memoranda, or structured metadata from anywhere in a legal department. Subscribers can add to the Sandbox Fastcase’s leading collection of judicial opinions, statutes, or regulations, or structured metadata such as citation relationships or docket metadata.

Using tools such as IBM Watson Analytics and Watson Developer Cloud tools, legal departments in the Sandbox will be able to create their own cognitive search and content analytics engines running over their own KM systems, Fastcase’s public law databases, or both. Users also can create powerful data conversion or OCR engines for insight into scanned or PDF data. The Fastcase Sandbox empowers legal departments to get their hands dirty by using for themselves the machine learning and natural language processing tools they have been reading so much about.


It can be challenging to keep up with all the developments in the fast-changing legal research field. With so many innovations in the last year, a panel with the innovators themselves will be educational, and a conversation between a leading expert such as Susan Nevelow Mart and legal tech entrepreneurs should give a good view of the landscape ahead.

The Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries will be held in Austin from July 16–18. This panel is I6: The Axis of Access: How New Tools Pose a Challenge to Traditional Legal Research, on Tuesday, July 18, from 2:30–3:30 CDT.