When the legal research service Casetext was first launched in 2013, its founders wanted to democratize access to the law by providing free access to legal research enhanced through crowdsourced annotations. As the company grew and took on venture capital, it increasingly targeted its sales and marketing to the large-firm market and implemented pricing appropriate to that market.
Now, the company is, in a sense, returning to its roots, aiming to expand its use among solo and small firm lawyers, while continuing to serve the large-firm sector. Today, it introduced Casetext for Small Law, with new features designed to make its platform more useful to smaller firms, including additions to its library, a new negative-treatment citator feature, and lower subscription prices.
The goal, cofounder and CEO Jake Heller told me this morning, is to provide smaller-firm lawyers with a complete legal research service that gives them everything they need from a provider such as Westlaw or Lexis Advance but at a more-affordable cost.
Today’s announcements include:
- A reduction in the monthly subscription price from $139 to $89. The prepaid annual price goes from $129 a month to $65 a month. Casetext now also offers a two-seat license of $119 a month or $95 a month if paid annually. This is $1,000 less than single-state primary law plans from Westlaw or Lexis, Heller says, and $1,500 less than comparable full-state plans.
- The addition of statutes from all 50 states. Until now, it had statutes for only five states.
- The addition of cases from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.
- A new negative-treatment citator that shows red flags on cases that have been overturned or treated negatively on appeal. In the past, Casetext relied on algorithmic analysis to identify if a case had been overturned, but its new citator combines human and machine analysis for far more accurate results, Heller said.
Casetext has always had solo and small-firm subscribers, Heller said, but its goal now is to demonstrate to lawyers in smaller firms that Casetext is a viable and lower-cost alternative.
Going forward, the company will invest heavily in building out content and features targeted at smaller firms, Heller said, with more announcements soon to come.
“Our goal is to offer to small and solo attorneys everything you need, done extremely well, at a price you’ll love,” Heller said.
The World Economic Forum, a Geneva-based nonprofit focused on entrepreneurship in the global public interest, has recognized 61 early-stage companies as Technology Pioneers for their design, development and deployment of potentially world-changing innovations and technologies. Of the 61, only one is a legal technology company.
That one is Casetext, the legal research company founded in 2013 that has been a key player in pioneering the use of artificial intelligence to enhance legal research. (See, for example, my recent post: Casetext Just Made Legal Research A Whole Lot Smarter.)
The Forum’s description of Casetext says:
Casetext provides free, unlimited access to the law and charges for access to premium technologies that attorneys can use to make their research more thorough and more efficient. It is the novel application of artificial intelligence (AI) to the law that allows attorneys to use the context of what they are working on to jumpstart their research.
The Forum launched its Technology Pioneer program in 2000. Each year, it recognizes a limited number of companies and incorporates them into its initiatives, activities and events. Companies selected in the past include: Airbnb, Google, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Scribd, Spotify, Twitter and Wikimedia.
The newly selected companies will be invited to the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2018 in Tianjin, People’s Republic of China, in September, and some will also participate in the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2019 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, in January.
Most judges in a survey say that they see lawyers miss relevant precedent in their legal research and that those missing cases have impacted the outcome of a motion or proceeding.
The legal research company Casetext surveyed 66 federal and 43 state judges to learn whether missing precedent over affects the outcome of a matter. The survey asked just two questions:
- How often do you or your clerks uncover case law that attorneys should have cited in their briefing but did not?
- Has a party missing a precedent before your chambers impacted the outcome of a motion or proceeding?
With regard to the first question, every one of the judges have seen attorneys miss relevant cases. Over 27 percent see it happen the majority of the time or in almost every case. Less than 17 percent see it only rarely.
With regard to the second question, more than two-thirds of judges surveyed said that attorneys missing relevant precedent has materially impacted the outcome of a motion or proceeding.
Overall, 68 percent of judges have experienced missing precedent impacting the outcome of a motion or proceeding.
For Casetext, the takeaway of this survey is that lawyers should use its CARA artificial intelligence technology to help find missing cases.
I am a proponent of using tools such as CARA to help round out one’s research. But I would take it a step further and say this survey suggests the importance of using multiple services in your legal research.
Last year, I wrote about research by Susan Nevelow Mart, director of the law library and associate professor at the University of Colorado Law School, which shows that different legal research platforms deliver dramatically different results. In a comparison of six leading research providers, there was hardly any overlap in the cases that appeared in the top-10 results returned by each.
No research service is perfect, that means. While AI tools may help make a given service better, it still will not be perfect.
Download the survey: The Prevalence of Missing Precedents.
Casetext today is rolling out three major updates to its legal research platform. One is an updated design and architecture to make the site faster, cleaner and easier to use. But it is the other two updates that I want to focus on, because, in combination, they dramatically enhance the results you receive when performing legal research.
Both updates involve Casetext’s artificial-intelligence, brief-analysis software CARA (Case Analysis Research Assistant):
- First, CARA now works not only with briefs, but with any type of litigation document — and possibly even non-litigation legal documents, based on my testing.
- Second, CARA is now integrated into Casetext’s standard legal research workflow, so that it can be used to enhance keyword queries and deliver results that are far-better matched to the facts and issues at hand.
When Casetext introduced CARA in 2016, it was the first product of its kind on the market. When you uploaded a brief or memorandum into CARA, it would analyze it and generate a list of cases that are relevant to the issues discussed in the document but not mentioned in it. It was a powerful tool to vet an opponent’s brief or proof documents of your own. The American Association of Law Libraries named it new product of the year in 2017 and it spawned a new generation of similar brief-analysis programs.
But for CARA to work, the uploaded document needed to contain case citations. That was because its algorithm compared the cases in the uploaded document to the cases and articles in the Casetext database, looking for other cases that were usually cited alongside those cases.
With today’s update, CARA works with any kind of legal document, regardless of whether it contains citations. You can, for example, upload a complaint that contains no citations and use CARA to find cases relevant to the facts and issues.
That would be good news of itself. But even more notable, in my opinion, is the integration of CARA within the standard legal research workflow. I got to try it over the weekend in advance of today’s release, and I found that I almost always obtained search results that were directly on point to my facts and issues, and did so without having to construct elaborate queries.
Here is how it works.
Now when you go to perform a research query in Casetext, the standard search bar has two buttons under it, one labeled Keyword Search and one labeled CARA Search. If you select the latter, you are prompted to upload a legal document.
Once you do, CARA analyzes the document and then contextualizes your query to the facts and legal arguments the document contains. By using use, even a generic query can deliver on-point results.
Here is a simple example. Say I am researching whether copyright can vest in state legal materials. If I search just “copyright,” Casetext gives me 65,124 cases. The top results are not helpful, and that would be an awful lot of cases to wade through. I went on to try constructing more complex queries, but still could not put my finger on cases that were on point. My only option would have been to start reading through a long list of results in the hope of hitting on what I wanted.
But if I did that same simple query, “copyright,” and also uploaded the complaint filed by Fastcase in its lawsuit against Casemaker over copyright in Georgia administrative materials, then I obtained results that were directly on point. Even though my query remained just the generic term “copyright,” CARA used the complaint to identity the facts and issues I was interested in and deliver on-point results.
As another example, I searched “allergy” and got 10,401 cases. What I was interested in was liability for death caused by peanut allergy, but Casetext could never have known that based on a generic search for allergy.
If, however, I uploaded a complaint seeking damages for a death caused by exposure to peanut oil, I received cases that were much more directly on point.
It is important to understand that you don’t have to use simplistic queries such as I’ve used here. You can still construct more complex queries. But even then, by combining your query with a legal document, you are likely to get more precise results.
Note also that you can toggle between the CARA results and the keyword results at any time.
Just to push the envelope a bit, I even tried this with a few documents that had no relation to litigation. These experiments produced mixed results. For example, I tried uploading written testimony I had submitted to the state legislature on pending bills, and then tried entering queries related to the subjects of those bills. Twice, the CARA-assisted search performed better than a keyword search. But a third time, it seemed no better than a keyword search. I also tried uploading a memorandum that provided a broad overview of a legal topic and then entered a query relating to a specific application of that topic, with only so-so results.
These experiments with non-litigation documents lead me to think that the CARA AI-assisted research tool works better with litigation documents because they contain more precise discussions of facts and issues.
Those anomalies aside, the CARA AI-assisted research tool strikes me as a major advance in legal research. It addresses a core problem with traditional legal research — that the results are typically too broad. Even a skilled researcher capable of constructing complex Boolean searches often finds it difficult to zero in on highly pertinent results. In my initial testing, the addition of CARA’s AI to a query makes a powerful combination, delivering results that much more closely matched my facts and issues.
On Monday, I blogged about the launch by ROSS Intelligence, the AI-based legal research platform, of EVA, a free product that analyzes briefs and performs various functions, including determining whether the cases they cite are still good law.
After hearing about EVA, the folks at Casetext — who have their own brief analyzer, CARA — challenged ROSS to participate in a “robot fight” here at Legaltech/Legalweek in New York, where both companies are participating. The challenge was to engage in a head-to-head comparison of the two products, live in front of an audience.
ROSS declined to participate, but Casetext decided to stage it anyway, creating their own EVA account and running the same brief through both analyzers to see how the two platforms compared.
I broadcast the robot fight on Facebook Live, and you can watch it for yourself below. The principle speaker you’ll hear is Jake Heller, founder and CEO of Casetext.
Every legal researcher has come across the phrase in a judicial opinion, “It is well settled that …,” or, “It is axiomatic that …” In 2014, I wrote about a prototype legal research website that mined opinions for instances of these phrases and made them searchable as a way of helping researchers find statements of established principles of law.
That website, which was called WellSettled.com, no longer exists, but its creator, Pablo Arredondo, is now chief legal research officer and cofounder of Casetext, which today is launching a much-expanded and enhanced version of that former site in the form of two new research databases, Black Letter Law and Holdings, which are intended to help researchers to quickly hone in on key rulings and common law doctrines.
The Black Letter Law feature is essentially what I described above. Casetext has searched cases for instances of phrases such as “it is well established,” “it is well settled” and “it is axiomatic,” and created a database that so far has over 100,000 of them. A researcher can use these to quickly find principles of black-letter law and the cases that support them.
The Holdings feature is a bit different. It finds the parentheticals that an opinion contains when it cites to a prior case and summarizes the prior case’s holding. These collected references form a database of other courts’ summaries of what a particular case held. Whereas the former WellSettled.com site had some 400,000 of these, Casetext’s new Holdings feature has more than 2.3 million.
This feature creates something akin to a legal treatise, Arredondo says. “What we have here is the entire judiciary of the United States for a century and a half creating concise case summaries for us.”
Lawyers use secondary sources such as treatises to find a quick and concise way to get to primary law, Arredondo says. “This database has the features of a secondary source but pulled from caselaw.”
The Black Letter Law feature is useful in several contexts, Arredondo says. One is when researching an unfamiliar area of law. This feature can help quickly reveal the skeleton of the law and identify the black-letter principles.
Another is in finding precedent that has become so settled that it is hard to find a case that stands for it. With this feature, the researcher can find cases to cite that state that a principle is well settled.
Researchers can access results from both Black Letter Law and Holdings through a standard keyword search on Casetext or via CARA, Casetext’s AI-powered legal research service.
The legal research company Casetext has introduced a feature that monitors an attorney’s litigation dockets for briefs and memoranda from opposing counsel and then automatically delivers a report of case law that is relevant but not included in the document.
The feature uses Casetext’s legal research assistant CARA, an analytical tool that automatically finds cases that are relevant to a legal document but not cited in the document. The standard way to use CARA is for an attorney who has received a brief, memoranda or other legal document to upload it to CARA, and CARA then performs its analysis and generates a list of relevant cases that are not mentioned in the document.
With this new feature, which Casetext is calling CARA Notifications, Casetext monitors all the PACER dockets in which an attorney has active matters. Whenever opposing counsel files a substantive document such as a brief or memorandum, Casetext retrieves the document, runs it through CARA, and delivers the report to the attorney.
“Traditionally in legal research, an attorney gets a brief and then seeks out case law to oppose the brief,” Pablo Arredondo, chief legal research officer at Casetext, explained. “The closest thing there has been to push notification is that some research services let you track a case or track a search. What we’re doing now — and I believe we’re the first — is pushing the caselaw to oppose the brief automatically based on monitoring the dockets.”
Seven firms have been using this feature on a pilot basis since Oct. 1, including Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, Ogletree Deakins, and Fenwick & West. The feature is being provided to them as part of their standard subscription, at no extra cost.
Casetext is analyzing the text of docket entries and documents to determine which are substantive and which are not, so that it does not run routine filings through the analysis. It only analyzes documents filed by opposing sides in the case, so the attorney’s own filings are not automatically analyzed. (Of course, subscribers can always run their documents through CARA before they file them.)
One early user called the service “anticipatory knowledge retrieval,” Arredondo said. “This is one of these early embodiments of what having an AI system can look like — software listening to the stream of a litigation record and doing what it can when an event happens.”
Fresh on the heels of Casetext’s legal research assistant CARA being named new product of the year, Casetext is today introducing an expansion of CARA that adds briefs to its suggested results. This means that, in addition to finding relevant — but possibly overlooked — case law, CARA also finds relevant briefs. Casetext is calling this new feature CARA Brief Finder.
CARA — short for Case Analysis Research Assistant — is an analytical tool that automatically finds cases that are relevant to a legal document but not cited in the document. Upload a brief, memorandum or any other document that contains legal text, and CARA analyzes it and generates a list of relevant cases that are not mentioned in the document.
As I noted here recently, the American Association of Law Libraries recently selected CARA as new product of the year and will honor its developer, Pablo Arredondo, vice president of legal research at Casetext, at its annual meeting this summer.
With today’s release of Brief Finder, CARA’s analysis finds not only relevant cases, but also briefs that are relevant to the legal and factual issues in a given document. Casetext collected hundreds of thousands of publicly filed briefs — many from the federal courts’ PACER system — and then culled them in an effort to ensure that the collection included only quality briefs filed by leading law firms, specialized boutiques, nonprofits and government agencies.
The distinguishing feature of CARA is that it finds cases that you or your opponent missed, using artificial intelligence and data science technologies. This same feature applies to Brief Finder, Casetext says, allowing users to find documents that can be easily missed through traditional query-based search.
Although I have not tried CARA’s Brief Finder, I was given a preview demonstration of it a few weeks ago when I was in San Francisco. Casetext says it helps litigators in three ways:
- By predicting opposing counsel’s arguments based on what similarly situated litigants have argued. Brief Finder will identify briefs that both oppose and support a litigator’s arguments, allowing a lawyer to see how other attorneys have approached the same issue or factual circumstances.
- By ensuring litigators don’t omit arguments. Relevant briefs can provide assurance you are not missing a key argument and that you’ve articulated your arguments as effectively as possible.
- By helping litigators draft the most compelling briefs efficiently. Relevant briefs can help you quickly hone in on the key information you need to make your arguments.
“Every lawyer knows that the best way to find good arguments is to look to your peers — other great attorneys who have taken on the same issues and researched them thoroughly,” said Jake Heller, Casetext’s founder and CEO, in a statement. “But finding the right brief is hard and expensive. CARA Brief Finder makes finding these invaluable resources effortless.”
Access to CARA requires a Casetext subscription. Subscriptions for individuals are $119 per month or $99 a month if paid annually. Special bulk rates are available to law firms.
Every year at its annual meeting, the American Association of Law Libraries presents an award for the new product of the year. This week, it announced that this year’s honoree will be Pablo Arredondo, vice president of legal research at Casetext, for his development of CARA.
As I explained in a post here last summer, CARA — short for Case Analysis Research Assistant — is a tool that automatically finds cases that are relevant to legal memoranda and briefs. Upload a brief, memorandum or any other document that contains legal text, and CARA analyzes it and generates a list of relevant cases that are not mentioned in the document.
Arredondo, who is also a fellow of CodeX, the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics, is a graduate of Stanford Law School and of the University of California at Berkeley. A former practitioner who has represented leading technology companies in patent litigation at both the district court and appellate levels, he is a member of the New York and California bars.
The award will be presented, along with others honoring the achievements of law librarians, at a luncheon during the AALL’s annual meeting in Austin in July.