At the annual meeting of the American Bankruptcy Institute on April 20, I moderated a plenary panel, “Artificial Intelligence: Why It Matters To Your Future Bankruptcy Practice.” In advance of the panel, the ABI recorded a series of video interviews I conducted with some of the panelists. Here is my interview with Darby Green, commercial product director for litigation and bankruptcy at Bloomberg Law.
A legal research tool that uses artificial intelligence to help legal researchers quickly find key language critical to a court’s reasoning has been selected by the American Association of Law Libraries as winner of its 2018 New Product Award.
AALL cited Points of Law, a tool developed by Bloomberg Law, for its ability to provide researchers with a court decision’s legal points and to identify legal precedents.
As I explained in my review of Points of Law last September, as a researcher scrolls through a court opinion, the tool highlights the essential language in the opinion, making it easier for the researcher to browse through the key discussion points and enabling the researcher to more quickly get the gist of the key holdings.
For each point of law within a case, a pop-up shows the top three cases cited in support of it. The researcher can select any of these Points of Law to see an expanded treatment that shows other cases that make the same point of law and an visual timeline and citation map of these other cases, as well as the ability to see and search related points of law. Each Point of Law has its own distinct page with these elements.
In a statement announcing the award, Greg Lambert, AALL president, said, “As leaders of legal research best practices and advanced technology tools, our members recognize the value of powerful litigation support resources. Points of Law is an outstanding example of just such a tool, and we congratulate Bloomberg Law on their award.”
AALL’s New Product Award recognizes new commercial information products that enhance or improve existing law library services or procedures, or products that improve access to legal information, the legal research process, or procedures for the technical processing of library materials.
Recent years’ winners have include Casetext’s CARA in 2017, Ravel Law in 2016, Lex Machina in 2015, and a joint award in 2014 to Fastcase and William S. Hein & Co. for the HeinOnline/Fastcase Integration.
Bloomberg Law today rolled out to its subscribers new tool, Points of Law, that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help legal researchers quickly find language critical to a court’s reasoning and to support their legal arguments.
As a researcher scrolls through a court opinion, Points of Law highlights the essential language in the opinion, making it easier for the researcher to browse through the key discussion points and enabling the researcher to more quickly get the gist of the key holdings.
A pop-up shows the top three cases cited for the principle. The user can then select any of these Points of Law to see an expanded treatment that shows other cases that make the same point of law and an visual timeline and citation map of these other cases, as well as the ability to see and search related points of law. Each Point of Law has its own distinct page with these elements.
“We are using machine learning and AI to extract the sense of a what a judge says in an opinion to allow for quicker and easier research and to uncover language that might be hard to find,” Darby Green, commercial product director for Bloomberg Law Litigation Solutions, told me yesterday.
Bloomberg says that it has extracted more than one million Points of Law from its database of 13 million published and unpublished state and federal court opinions, and that these Points of Law are being continually updated as new cases are added.
In addition to getting to these Points of Law through a court opinion, a researcher can also find them by conducting keyword searches across all case law or specific jurisdictions.
Viewing these points of law for a case has the feeling of viewing headnotes. Green was reluctant to label these as headnotes because other Bloomberg Law materials have more formal, structured headnotes. However, she agreed with the comparison and said that, later this year, users will have the ability to see these Points of Law listed at the top of a case.
Bloomberg Law today is officially announcing the addition to its research platform of the E-Discovery Practice Center, a curated collection of a range of court opinions, tools, sample forms, news and expert guidance related to both federal and state e-discovery practice. The practice center is available to all Bloomberg Law subscribers at no additional cost.
Bloomberg says it is the only legal research platform to have a resource of this kind devoted to e-discovery. Bloomberg “soft launched” the practice center for some customers at the recent annual meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries, but today is formally announcing its availability to all customers.
The practice center’s main page includes federal and state court opinions related to e-discovery, federal and state rules and laws related to e-discovery, news and law reports, and BNA’s E-Discovery Portfolio series, which provides an entry point to resources such as practice guides, books and treatises, and law reviews, as well as specific guidance on such issues as understanding and preventing spoliation. E-discovery rules for all states are included.
Another section of the practice center provides materials grouped by stage of e-discovery, such as preservation, production and technology-assisted review. Here you can find resources such as a checklist for preparing for a Rule 26 meeting and a guide to preparing a legal hold notice, as well as sample forms for legal holds.
A news section includes the text of the BNA publication Digital Discovery & e-Evidence, as well as law firm alerts, news headlines, and various other sources of news and analysis.
Other sections focus on key issues related to e-discovery, such as cross-border data transfers, government and internal investigations, and data and privacy security.
The folks at Bloomberg Law are keeping busy. Last week, I wrote about the legal research platform’s rollout of a major redesign of its user interface and search experience. This week, it is announcing expansion of its labor and employment resources and content.
The new resources — all of which are available within Bloomberg Law’s Labor & Employment Practice Center — are:
- Practical Guidance, a tool that provides step-by-step assistance in completing routine tasks such as drafting a non-compete agreement or designing a whistleblower policy.
- Labor Arbitration Awards Tracker, providing analytics that track trends in arbitrators’ rulings.
- State & Local Law Activity Heat Map, a tool to help legal professionals stay current with the latest developments by providing a visual depiction of the real-time state of labor and employment legislation, showing where new state and local laws are being introduced and where existing laws are changing.
Labor and employment lawyers can also use the Litigation Analytics tool that Bloomberg Law introduced last October. The tool draws on court opinions and docket information to help attorneys gain insights into questions such as how long federal judges typically take to resolve cases, how they rule on dispositive motions, and how often they are overturned on appeal.
To illustrate the use of Litigation Analytics in the labor and employment field, Bloomberg Law released an analysis of trends in employment and ERISA litigation. It examines activity for five judges over the past five years, showing the percentage of cases in which each judge granted or denied summary judgment motions and the average days it takes each judge to decide a case.
The Bloomberg BNA legal research service Bloomberg Law today is introducing a new user interface that streamlines the search experience by making it easier to conduct searches and to find specific types of content.
The changes were spurred by customers’ feedback that they appreciated the breadth of legal and business content on Bloomberg Law but found it difficult to navigate, Scott Mozarsky, president of Bloomberg BNA’s Legal Division, told me during a preview on Friday, also attended by Carl Sussman, product director for Bloomberg Law.
“This very clearly is a tremendous improvement around search,” Mozarsky said. “A lot of players in the market like to say that they’re changing the way people do research, but now we think we really can say that.”
The new design features a prominent search bar at the top of the page that serves a dual role. It is used to conduct searches, both natural language and Boolean. Without changing any settings, you can enter either a natural-language or a Boolean search. (If you’re a Boolean purist, you can set it so all searches use terms and connectors.)
At the same time, site navigation is now built directly into the search bar, so that as you begin to enter the nature or name of content you are looking for, it suggests matches.
If you are looking for business intelligence tools or the Labor & Employment Practice Center, for example, start to type the phrase and suggestions will appear. If you are looking for the treatise Harmon on Patents, begin to type the name and the suggestion appears. Click it and go right to the table of contents.
The search bar uses something Bloomberg calls Context Awareness, which means that it adapts its scope to your location within the research service. If you are at the Labor & Employment Practice Center, the search bar knows that is where you are and limits your searches to that library. A drop-down within the search bar lets you choose to either expand the search beyond that library or narrow it to more specific topics within the library.
Users still have the ability to browse and drill-down through topics hierarchically through a collapsible menu on the left side of the screen. This menu also takes you quickly to My Home and My Favorites. My Home is the location within Bloomberg Law that you designate as your start page. If you are a labor and employment lawyer, you may choose to set the L&E Practice Center as your home page. The My Favorites link takes you to the items you’ve selected as your most-used content, tools and features.
In addition to the search bar and the collapsible browsing menu, the home page has been redesigned to add boxes intended to help users quickly get started on research or pick up from where they last left off. These boxes are:
- My Favorites, where you can save the content, tools and features you use most often. As noted, your favorites are also listed in the browsing menu to the left. This is so that, when you leave the home page, they remain readily available to you.
- Popular Links, providing quick access to the most frequently used features on Bloomberg Law.
- Continue my Research, enabling you to pick up work from where you last left off.
- Learn More About Bloomberg Law, providing access to help and support information.
The search results page now displays the most relevant results across different types of content. You can narrow results by topics or by content types or jump to specific titles.
The redesign also includes enhancements to Bloomberg Law’s practice centers. They now have a new look and feel intended to put the highest-value content front-and-center and make it easier to find.
The new interface is being rolled out to all Bloomberg Law customers today as part of their subscriptions. While legal research services sometimes maintain their former interfaces for a period after rolling out a new one, Bloomberg Law is not doing that. All customers will be switched to the new UI.
“We don’t do something this large without having extensively previewed it and tested it with our customers,” Mozarsky said.
Mozarsky said that this will be a busy year for Bloomberg Law, with a number of additional enhancements in the works. But as much as the company will be focusing on improving its platform, its greater emphasis will continue to be building up its content. Bloomberg Law has added substantial volumes of content just in the past year, he said, and will continue to do so.
“Content is what built this business,” Mozarsky said. “We never want that to be overshadowed by the technology.”
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
So said Scott Mozarsky today of Bloomberg BNA’s Legal Division, shortly after it was learned that he would become the division’s president, replacing David Perla, who had been president since July 2014.
In a telephone conversation with Mozarsky this afternoon, I asked him what his becoming president would mean for the legal division and for its legal research platform Bloomberg Law.
“In the short term, not that much,” Mozarsky said. “Our team has done a tremendous job of implementing a strategy and making progress in the market. There’s been a tremendous amount of talent brought into the company and a lot of innovation.”
Mozarsky’s immediate plan is to spend a lot of time with customers, learning more about what matters to them. “One of the first lessons I learned in business is that my opinion and those of my colleagues are utterly irrelevant. What matters is the priorities of our customers.”
He also wants to spend time getting to know his team better and helping them address any obstacles they see to building out products and services. “Talent is important to me. I will be spending more time with the team and learning how best to tap into them.”
As for Bloomberg Law, he will be focused on continuing to add new innovations such as the Litigation Analytics announced last week.
“We are committed to developing the best platform out there for the market. There will be continued investments in innovation and continued focus on upgrading functionality. Ultimately, we will be continuing to find ways to help our clients be successful in their day-t0-day work.”
Librarians A Key Constituency
I asked Mozarsky about criticism leveled at former president Perla after he published a column on Above the Law Aug. 30 which was widely interpreted as critical of law librarians and knowledge management professionals. Perla seemed to suggest that these professionals lacked the courage to push change within their institutions and were more interested in job preservation. The column drew sharp rebukes from Greg Lambert and Jean O’Grady, among others.
“I have a different perspective than David,” Mozarsky said. “The large majority of librarians and KM professionals have been strategic and knowledgeable and willing to try to change.
“Frankly, a lot of the innovation we’ve rolled out since I’ve been here has been the result of good feedback coming from librarians. They’re critical partners. They’re helping us as key drivers of innovation in the market.”
The law librarian’s role has evolved significantly since he entered the legal profession in 1993, Mozarsky said. “The large majority of librarians I’ve dealt with have evolved and have positioned themselves to be key drivers of innovation and workflow efficiencies for their firms.”
Besides information professionals, who else are key Bloomberg Legal constituents? I asked Mozarsky.
“Ultimately what we want is to be for law what the Bloomberg terminal is in the financial marketplace, a workplace platform that services all constituents in the ecosystem,” he said.
Achieving that position starts with the librarian. “That’s historically been the role that’s run point on legal information and data.” From there, it extends to the attorneys who are the clients of the librarians. Other key constituents in law firms are business development groups and marketing groups.
Also key constituents are in-house counsel and corporate legal departments, he said.
Bloomberg Law A Third Wheel?
I asked Mozarsky about the perception among some industry observers that Bloomberg Law remains a third wheel to the legal research mainstays of Westlaw and LexisNexis.
“We all know the history,” he replied. “Lexis and West invented this market. But like anything else, the market needs to evolve.”
Mozarsky credited Perla for having grown Bloomberg Law even in the midst of a flat market. “Credit goes to David to have achieved what by any objective metric is a tremendous amount of success in a difficult time in a difficult market. Bloomberg law is showing double-digit growth and taking share from its competitor.
“That’s why I say don’t fix it if it ain’t broken. We’re growing while others are shrinking. Our focus is on innovation and differentiation. More customers are raising their hands and wanting to engage.”
Last year, I wrote here that judge analytics is the new black. I was referring to the growing selection of tools that analyze case dockets and judicial opinions to provide insights into how judges rule on various types of matters and how long it takes them to do so. Products in this space include ALM’s Judicial Perspectives, Lex Machina, Premonition and Ravel Law with its Judge Analytics.
Now comes Bloomberg Law to the mix with its launch yesterday of Litigation Analytics. It aims to help attorneys gain insights into questions such as how long federal judges typically take to resolve cases, how they rule on dispositive motions, and how often they are overturned on appeal.
The product is not just for judicial analytics. It can also be used to perform analytics on some 7,000 law firms, more than 70,000 public companies, and more than 3.5 million private companies.
To illustrate how litigators can use its new product, Bloomberg Law created an analytics snapshot comparing five influential federal judges. It shows how they rule in certain cases, how long they take to decide a case from start to finish and which firms appear before them most often.
- This is the first litigation analytics product to be included within a comprehensive legal research platform. By that I mean that neither of Bloomberg Law’s two primary competitors, Westlaw and LexisNexis, have this. Although LexisNexis does now own Lex Machina, Lex Machina remains a freestanding product that is limited in the scope of its coverage and that is not yet incorporate in Lexis Advance.
- It appears that this has broader coverage than any of the other products. It covers all active federal judges across all case types, and covers cases dating back to 2007.
Litigation Analytics is available to all Bloomberg Law subscribers for no extra charge. If you are interested in learning more, Bloomberg Law will be demonstrating the product in a free webinar Nov. 1.
Think “bankruptcy treatise” and the first name that comes to mind is probably either Collier on Bankruptcy from LexisNexis or Norton Bankruptcy Law and Practice from Thomson Reuters. Now you can add to the list Bloomberg Law: Bankruptcy Treatise, launched today by Bloomberg BNA as an online-only resource. Besides the ambitious scope of its content, the key distinguishing feature is that it will be updated in real time, as new developments occur. Call it the pocket-part killer.
“We decided a few years ago to do a bankruptcy treatise,” David Perla, president of Bloomberg BNA Legal, told me earlier this week. “But we felt that the volume of information and the speed at which information changes did not justify doing it the same way as other treatises. We wanted to do a real time, dynamic treatise. We built this as an online only resource.”
As an editorial project, it sounds to have been an ambitious undertaking. Over the last few years, Bloomberg BNA assembled an editorial board of more than 60 prominent bankruptcy judges, law professors and practitioners. They created 600 chapters containing more than 13,000 pages. The treatise includes commentary and analysis for all 92 different local Bankruptcy Court rule sets throughout the country.
Going forward, Bloomberg BNA editors, with input from outside contributors, will update the material in real time as bankruptcy rules change and courts apply and react to them. I asked Darby J. Green, the lawyer who spearheaded this project at Bloomberg BNA, what “real time” means. “As soon as practicable,” she said. By contrast, Colliers is updated only quarterly, Green said.
Green noted that the latest amendments to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, which went into effect on Dec. 1, appeared in the treatise, with annotations, that same day. Several editors worked over Thanksgiving weekend to get that done, she added.
The treatise is available only on the Bloomberg Law legal research platform. The treatise can be navigated through its table of contents or searched by keywords. Searches can be restricted to specific subsections or chapters. Search results are listed in the order in which they appear in the treatise. Various filters allow further narrowing of search results.
The editor-in-chief of the treatise is D. Michael Lynn, a U.S. bankruptcy judge for the Northern District of Texas. Other editors include Jeremy Coffey, Brown Rudnick LLP; U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffery P. Hopkins, chief judge of the Southern District of Ohio; U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stephen L. Johnson, Northern District of California; and Thomas E. Lauria, White & Case.
Also serving as editors are Lorraine McGowen, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Cecelia Morris, chief judge of the Southern District of New York; U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John K. Olson, Southern District of Florida; Prof. Nancy Rapoport, University of Nevada, William S. Boyd School of Law; Prof. David A. Skeel, University of Pennsylvania Law School; Prof. Charles J. Tabb, University of Illinois; and Stephen Youngman, Weil, Gotshal & Manges.
Continue below for additional screenshots.
I have followed the birth and development of Bloomberg Law with great interest. After all, it requires a bit of chutzpah to launch a legal research platform with the goal of competing against Westlaw and LexisNexis on their own turf. It also requires a bit of cash. Bloomberg Law has both.
When it officially launched in December 2009, I wrote a review giving it credit for “getting into the game with swagger” by loading up on primary legal content, creating its own editorial enhancements, and developing its own citator to rival Shepard’s and KeyCite. But I also said that it was a “work in progress” and I likened it to a luxury yacht only partially constructed. “It is seaworthy,” I said, “but still has a lengthy punch list.”
By July 2011, when Bloomberg Law released “the next evolution” of its legal research platform, it had made great strides in its development, with a redesigned interface, enhanced search capabilities, new practice centers and enhanced collaboration and workflow features. And while the platform had come far closer to matching the breadth of resources available on Westlaw and LexisNexis, it still lagged behind in its collection of secondary legal materials such as treatises and practice guides, as its chairman, Lou Andreozzi acknowledged in an interview with me at the time.
Given this history, Bloomberg’s announcement last August that it would acquire BNA — with its highly regarded collection of materials covering labor and employment, tax and accounting, intellectual property, banking and securities, human resources, environmental law, health care and more — promised to narrow that gap in secondary resources.
Yesterday, Bloomberg Law unveiled the fruits of its BNA acquistion. Now, Bloomberg Law subscribers have full access to all BNA content. Keep in mind that Bloomberg Law is a flat-rate, all-access platform. That means that BNA access requires no extra fees and no hunting through peripheral libraries. The BNA materials are fully integrated within Bloomberg Law. You want BNA’s Daily Labor Report? It’s there in Bloomberg Law, for no extra cost.
In fact, the integration effectively adds value to the BNA products. Now, all references within the BNA materials are hyperlinked to source materials. When you see references to cases, statutes, news articles and the like, you can click on any of them to see the source document. This is a level of integration you don’t see if you subscribe individually to BNA materials through the BNA website (which you can still do).
Plus, the BNA materials are fully integrated into Bloomberg Law’s practice centers. The practice centers (see the screencap below) are sections of Bloomberg Law that pull together key resources for subjects such as labor and employment law and intellectual property law. While the BNA materials are fully integrated with the search and browse structures of these practice centers, they also remain easy to find on their own. With the click of a checkbox, a user can set any practice center page as a home page.
“We were always lacking a good legal research platform on which to showcase our content,” BNA CEO Greg McCaffery told me in an interview this morning. “It’s been a joy working with a legal research platform where we could not just post the content, but actually build it into Bloomberg Law. The user experience will be quite different.”
A Wide Range of BNA Products
If you are not familiar with the full range of BNA products, you can find a list on the BNA website. Among the products now integrated into Bloomberg Law are:
- More than 120 current-awareness law reports, including the Daily Labor Report, the Daily Tax Report, the Daily Report for Executives and The United States Law Week.
- Bloomberg BNA’s professional books, treatises and manuals, including Harmon on Patents, Section 409A Handbook and ERISA Litigation.
- The portfolio series of practical guidance written by leading practitioners, including the complete Corporate Practice Series.
- Bloomberg BNA’s headnotes and classifications outlines, such as U.S. Patents Quarterly, that are easily searchable and organized by experienced editors.
All new BNA content will now flow directly into Bloomberg Law. That includes any new products the company develops. The BNA editorial team, based in Arlington, Va., is now part of the Bloomberg Legal Division and works closely with Bloomberg editors in New York.
What’s next for Bloomberg Law? I put that question to Chairman Lou Andreozzi this morning and here’s what he said: “Consistent with what we’ve been doing, we’ll continue to put greater functionality on the product and add value at no additional cost. We still have an editorial team working to build out secondary content. The combination of the two cultures has created an impressive editorial team.”
Last month, the American Association of Law Libraries awarded Bloomberg Law its 2012 New Product Award. The award, which will be presented at the AALL annual meeting in Boston in July, recognizes 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.
Bloomberg Law also recently announced that the law firm DLA Piper had contracted to integrate the legal research service throughout its 1,400-lawyer firm.
The combination of chutzpah and cash is proving to be potent for Bloomberg Law. Not to be discounted is the underlying Bloomberg news and financial network that gave birth to this platform. Much of that content, of course, is tightly integrated into Bloomberg Law. That results in a platform that is powerful for not just legal research, but also for business and current-awareness research.
For Bloomberg Law, it seems, the punch list grows shorter by the day.