Jul 31, 2014

LexisNexis Named Publisher of Official Mass. Reports

This is interesting. LexisNexis today announced that it has been named official publisher of the Massachusetts Reports, the official publication containing decisions of the Supreme Judicial Court and the Appeals Court. Previously, Thomson Reuters (West) was the official publisher.

LexisNexis took over the contract as of July 1, the press release said. (more…)

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Jul 30, 2014

What Do You Know! I Inspired an Infographic

I’ve seen a lot of infographics, but never before have I been blamed credited for one. According to Nicole Black at the MyCase blog, the infographic I’ve embedded below, 10 Technologies that Have Changed the Practice of Law, was inspired by a post here on LawSites, A Chronology of Legal Technology, 1842-1995. Thanks Nicole and MyCase for turning my rudimentary list into something much nicer.

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Jul 30, 2014

‘Hackcess to Justice’ is Aug. 7 and 8 in Boston

Any moment now, I expect to see Paul Revere gallop by, shouting, “The lawyers are coming! The lawyers are coming!” In just over a week, the ABA annual meeting descends on Boston, and while it may not be bringing redcoats, it is sure to deliver an influx of black, blue and grey suitcoats.

HackcessMediumRecBFor anyone interested in legal technology or access to justice, possibly the most interesting event during the annual meeting is its first-ever hackathon, sponsored by the ABA Journal and Suffolk University Law School. If you are not familiar with the term, a hackathon is an event in which groups of people compete in teams to develop computer or mobile applications.

The theme of this hackathon is Hackcess to Justice – and there is prize money to be had. A total of $3,000 will be awarded to the top three hacks, with $1,500 to the winner, $1,000 to second place and $500 to third place. (Read more at this Challengepost page.)

As the name suggests, the challenge to the teams will be to develop ways that technology can expand access to justice for those unable to obtain or afford legal services. Applications should address one of the five areas of need outlined by the Legal Services Corporation’s 2013 Report of The Summit on the Use of Technology to Expand Access to Justice:

  • Statewide legal portals.
  • Document assembly.
  • Mobile applications.
  • Business processes and analysis.
  • Expert systems

The hackathon will be judged by:

  • K. Krasnow Waterman, principal, K. Krasnow Waterman Consulting.
  • Glenn Rawdon, program counsel, Legal Services Corporation.
  • Robert Ambrogi, some guy who writes a blog.

This is a two-day event held at Suffolk Law School. It kicks off on Thursday, Aug. 7, at 9 a.m., and concludes with the announcement of the winners on Friday at 7 p.m. On Saturday, some related programs will be presented at the annual meeting venue. The schedule is here.

If you want to just observe it, the best time to come is probably Friday at 5 p.m., when the teams will present their submissions to the judges. If you want to participate, then you can find full rules and registration information at this page.

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Jul 29, 2014

My ABA Journal Piece Considers the Future of LegalZoom

In a post here two months ago, I wrote about recent developments involving LegalZoom in South Carolina and North Carolina, where legal actions had sought to shut down the company as engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. Those were just two of a string of state lawsuits seeking to bar the company from engaging in unauthorized practice. But with a major victory in the South Carolina suit and having fended off all but one of the other suits, LegalZoom has no plans to go away.

To the contrary, the company has plans to significantly broaden the range of services it offers consumers and small businesses.

In the August issue of the ABA Journal magazine, I have an article looking at what is in store for LegalZoom: Latest Legal Victory Has LegalZoom Poised for Growth. I talk to several ethicists who say it’s time to stop focusing on the unauthorized practice issue and instead worry about how best to regulate such companies in a way that best serves consumers.

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Jul 28, 2014

Casetext Prepares to Add ‘Communities’


Environmental Law is one of Casetext’s new communities.

It was one year ago that I first wrote here about Casetext, the free legal research site that uses “crowdsourcing” to annotate court opinions. More recently, I wrote about Casetext’s addition of a citator, called WeCite. Now, there is more Casetext news to report.

Casetext is preparing to launch a new version of its research platform that will add communities and other social features. The new features have already been rolled out in a beta version. The text version came out of private beta last week and is now in public beta at beta.casetext.com. (more…)

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Jul 25, 2014

New Features Added to Casemaker


If you’ve been following this blog lately, you’ll know that I recently attended the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries. While I was there, I spoke briefly with David Harriman, the CEO of Casemaker, the legal research service offered as a member benefit by some 25 state and local bar associations. He gave me a brief update on new Casemaker features, then sent me an email providing more details.

Two major enhancements involve Casemaker’s library. For case law, Casemaker has expanded its coverage further back in time. For most states, it now has case law back to statehood or earlier or to the first state reporter volume. (more…)

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Jul 23, 2014

Couple of Other Cool Things I Saw at AALL

After returning from the American Association of Law Libraries annual meeting in San Antonio last week, I wrote about having seen previews there of major changes in the works for Fastcase, Lexis Advance and Wolters Kluwer. I also wrote last week about WellSettled.com, which I learned about through conversations at AALL.

But these were not the only products that caught my attention there. Here are a couple of others worth noting.


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Jul 22, 2014

Firm Central Gets Court Rules Calendaring


Once a deadline is added to the calendar, clicking it opens a box showing the details.

Firm Central, the cloud-based practice-management platform from Thomson Reuters, now offers rules-based court calendaring through a new add-on module called Deadline Assistant. The feature calculates litigation dates and events based on the court rules specific to the jurisdiction.

Deadline Assistant is sold as an additional subscription to Firm Central. The cost is $40 per month for the first user and then $20 a month for each additional user. The basic Firm Central subscription is $40 a month per seat. (more…)

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Jul 18, 2014

WellSettled.com Mines Cases for Established Principles


(Click for larger view.)

How many times have you come across the phrase “It is well settled that …” or “It is well established that …” in a judicial opinion? What if someone collected all these instances and made them searchable? When you are writing a brief or memorandum, wouldn’t it be useful to quickly locate these judicial statements of established principles?

A new website, still in its early stages of development, is doing just that. Called WellSettled.com, it mines judicial opinions for specific types of statements and phrases that either summarize a case or state a legal principle. The idea is that these judge-generated statements carry significant weight when discussing a case or legal principle. If you can easily find them, then you can incorporate them into your own research and writing. (more…)

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Jul 16, 2014

Fastcase, Lexis Advance and Wolters Kluwer Are All Readying Major Platform Overhauls

The new Lexis Advance has a simplified search bar and quick-access pods.

The new Lexis Advance has a simplified search bar and quick-access pods.

The official theme of the American Association of Law Libraries annual meeting in San Antonio this week was “Beyond Boundaries.” But for three of the leading legal-research vendors in attendance there, the theme was “A Change is Gonna Come.” Both Lexis Advance and Wolters Kluwer officially previewed major overhauls of their user interfaces. Fastcase is not yet ready to go public with its changes, but CEO Ed Walters did give me a private preview of what is to come.

The Fastcase redesign will be released this fall in private beta for select users. The full production version is slated for release early next year. In San Antonio, Walters gave me a preview of the new design on the condition that I keep the details private for now, so I cannot tell you much about it. I previously published some details in a piece I wrote for the ABA Journal about visual law:

Fastcase is preparing to release a new version of its platform that will give visual search even greater prominence. In the new version, the Interactive Timeline will appear on the same page as the search results rather than on a separate page. The results page will also display a tag cloud, showing the words and concepts that are most prominent in the cases within the search results.

That much remains true and I can say that I was impressed with what Fastcase is planning to roll out. For now, I’ll have to leave it at that.

Lexis Advance Advances

Meanwhile, LexisNexis is making no secret of its forthcoming redesign of Lexis Advance. It was touting the redesign all over its booth in the AALL exhibit hall and it even threw a Lexis Advance release party. That said, the redesigned platform will not actually be available to customers until late this summer.

During AALL, I had a chance to meet with Marty Kilmer, vice president of product platforms at LexisNexis, who showed me some of the forthcoming changes to Lexis Advance. The goal of the redesign, he said, was to make the platform quicker and easier to use, while not abandoning any features or functionality.

To achieve that, Lexis Advance has eliminated tabs and reorganized content in order to cut down the number of clicks required to find content and perform common tasks. The main search bar is simplified, with no source selection required to search. Searching for a specific type of content — a case name, a citation, a source such as Collier — requires only typing the name.

The main search page has been changed to add “pods” that provide quick access to the user’s history, folders, favorites and alerts, as well as to help topics. Also from the main page, searches can be refined and filtered in advance, to limit them by jurisdiction category, practice area and other facets. As you add filters, they are displayed on your screen, and any filter you’ve added can be removed with a click.

You can also browse sources from the main search page. You can find sources by typing their name or by typing the concepts or jurisdictions you are researching.

Search results show results across all types of categories, but you can easily narrow results to cases, statutes or other content types by clicking on the left of the screen. A new Snapshot view shows the most relevant results on a single screen. When you select a case from the search results and view it, a Shepard’s summary is shown on the same page; click it to go to the full Shepard’s report.

Lexis has posted a page with videos and guides that provide more information about the changes to Lexis Advance.

Wolters Kluwer Cheetah

Also at AALL, Wolters Kluwer was touting its forthcoming redesign, dubbed Cheetah. It will have a limited release to select users in August and a commercial release in November. To begin, the new platform will be available only for securities law, with coverage of three overarching areas: governance and compliance, litigation and enforcement, and transactions and activities. Other topic areas will be rolled out subsequently.

The new platform has been engineered to maximize speed and ease of use, product manager Scott Murray told me during a demonstration at AALL. The design is responsive, so that it will work equally well across platforms, whether on a computer, a table or a mobile phone.

Cheetah uses a three-panel display. All the primary content is shown in the center panel. A left-side panel shows the user’s saved searches, favorites and alerts. As you search, the panel shows facets that the user can select to narrow and refine the search. The far-right panel will provide direct links to practice tools.

I had only a brief preview of Cheetah at AALL but I hope to have a more in-depth look sometime soon. Last December, Jean O’Grady published a fairly detailed preview of Cheetah at Dewey B Strategic, and from what I saw at AALL, her description of forthcoming features remains accurate.


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