lexmachina antitrust
This is a screencap taking during a demo I was given last week by Brian Howard, Lex Machina’s legal data scientist.

The legal analytics company Lex Machina is announcing today its expansion into a third practice area, antitrust law. This follows its expansion in July to add securities law.

Until its acquisition last year by LexisNexis, Lex Machina had focused exclusively on intellectual property. Since the acquisition, it has been using LexisNexis’s collection of federal and state docket data to expand into other practice areas.

Today’s release adds some 7,800 antitrust cases active since 2009, according to Lex Machina, allowing attorneys to uncover trends relating to timing of cases, resolutions, findings, damages and remedies, as well as opposing counsel, law firms, parties, judges, magistrate-judges, venues, and more. Today’s release also includes multidistrict litigation (MDL) cases.

New features with today’s release include:

  • Expanded case coverage. Lex Machina now includes cases brought under the Sherman Act, Clayton Act, Robinson-Patman Act and Federal Trade Commission Act.
  • New data source and case linking. Existing Lex Machina case data is now integrated with data from the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to provide accurate MDL case counts. The platform also links procedurally connected cases to let attorneys analyze them in the right context.
  • Antitrust findings analytics. New tags have been added for class actions, DOJ/FTC enforcement cases, Robinson-Patman Act price discrimination cases, and cases where counterclaims were asserted.
  • New data on settlements. Until now, Lex Machina has not tracked data on settlements because that data is typically difficult to uncover from the docket. With today’s release, it adds class action settlements, since those must be filed and approved by the court and thus can be extracted for data analysis.
  • Enhanced case timing analytics. Median days have been added to dismissal, class certification and summary judgment orders.

Also newly added to Lex Machina is data on U.S. magistrate judges for all covered practice areas. Previously it included only U.S. district judges.

The MDL feature allows users to view data about both the master MDL case and all associated cases. A user can view the master case and navigate from there to any individual case and then easily return to the master case. Users can also see how many of the associated cases have actually had a MDL resolution.

To read more about the company, see my posts tagged Lex Machina.

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Lex Machina today unveiled two “comparator apps” designed to make it simpler to access specific types of analytics insights. One, the Courts & Judges Comparator, allows up to four federal judges and courts to be compared for caseloads, case timelines, and other analytics. The other, the Law Firms Comparator, allows the same sorts of comparisons for up to four law firms.

These join three other legal analytics apps that already exist within Lex Machina: Early Case Assessor, Motion Kickstarter and Patent Portfolio Evaluator.

“We’ve repeatedly been asked to create easy-button ways to access our analytics insights,” Owen Byrd told me during a recent demonstration of the new apps. “These apps make it easier to find stuff.”

The Courts & Judges Comparator will allow users to compare specific judges and specific district courts. This would be most useful to plaintiffs’ attorneys who are evaluating where to file a case or to defense attorneys when seeking to transfer a case.

Lawfirmscomparitor
Law Firms Comparitor

For example, a plaintiff preparing to file a patent case might want to compare the Eastern District of Texas, the District of Delaware, the Northern District of California, and the Central District of California. For each court, the app will display analytics comparing the numbers of open cases, terminated cases and case filings. It will show how long it takes in each court to get a permanent injunction, a summary judgment, a claim construction hearing, a dismissal or a trial. It will show information about case resolutions, damages, remedies and findings.

Based on the plaintiff’s litigation goals, these comparative numbers would help inform a decision about where to file.

A similar analysis could be performed by a defendant looking to seek transfer of a case.

The Law Firms Comparator provides similar comparability analytics, but compares up to four law firms instead of courts or judges. This would be useful to a law firm preparing to pitch its services to a potential client or to a general counsel when considering outside firms to retain.

Byrd said more such apps are in development, including ones that will provide comparisons of parties and possibly individual lawyers.

SecuritiesResolutions
Obtain breakdowns of case resolutions in securities matters.

In the first of its promised expansions into other practice areas following its acquisition last November by LexisNexis, Lex Machina today announced its addition of securities law to its legal analytics platform.

Until today, Lex Machina had focused exclusively on intellectual property. But ever since its acquisition by LexisNexis, Lex Machina has planned to use LexisNexis’s extensive collection of federal and state docket data to expand into other practice areas, starting with federal practice areas.

“The whole theory of the acquisition was to enable us to get access to the LexisNexis documents,” Owen Byrd, Lex Machina’s chief evangelist and general counsel, told me last week. “Rolling out securities is our proof point that the acquisition made sense and that it can accelerate our vision of bringing analytics to all practice areas.”

SecuritiesFindings2
Get analytics on the timing of securities cases.

Securities cases are available in Lex Machina starting today. The collection includes nearly 15,000 federal securities litigation cases and over 1 million securities-specific docket entries filed since 2009.

By mid-September, Lex Machina will add antitrust dockets, followed before the end of 2016 by products liability, employment, commercial law and commercial bankruptcy. Additional federal practice areas will come in 2017, after which Lex Machina will turn its attention to adding data from state dockets.

“This is the beginning of our sprint to deliver analytics for all of federal law,” Byrd said.

Analytics Specific to Securities Law

Lex Machina, which originated out of Stanford Law School, uses sophisticated analytics to mine court data to reveal insights about judges, lawyers, parties and matters.

To expand its analytics to securities, it had to first code the documents it received from LexisNexis with tags specific to the practice area. To develop those tags, Byrd told me, Lex Machina’s developers spoke to a number of leading securities litigators to find out what analytics they would want to know.

SecuritiesDamages
Lex Machina now provides damages analytics for securities cases.

Among the analytics included in the new securities module are:

  • Securities findings by judgment event. This shows findings — such as Securities Act violation, Exchange Act violation, statute of limitations defense, plaintiff knowledge defense, cautionary language/safe harbor defense — by judgment event — such as default judgment, consent judgment, summary judgment, etc.
  • Case resolutions. Specifically created for multi-district litigation, such as class-action lawsuits tried in district courts across multiple U.S. states.
  • Damages. Categorizes the amounts awarded for SEC penalties, disgorgement, approved class-action settlements and other securities damages.
  • Timing. Reveals average times for a case to reach class certification, summary judgment, dismissal and more.
SecuritiesFindings
See analytics on findings in cases by judgment event.

2015 Case Statistics

With today’s roll-out of the securities module, Lex Machina also unveiled statistics on securities cases that terminated during 2015:

  • Most frequent defendants in securities litigation were Citigroup Global Markets (43 cases), Goldman, Sachs & Co. (36 cases), and UBS Securities (35 cases).
  • Law firms most frequently representing defendants were Latham & Watkins (48 cases), Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett (41 cases) and Dechert (39 cases).
  • Law firms most frequently representing plaintiffs were Pomerantz (107 cases), Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd (99 cases), Glancy Prongay & Murray (46 cases) and the Rosen Law firm (46 cases).

To read more about the company, see my posts tagged Lex Machina.

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On this Friday the 13th, catching up on some of the week’s news and updates:

How AI And Crowdsourcing Are Remaking The Legal Profession. Fast Company writer Sean Captain picks up on recent posts of mine about legal startups (here and here) and goes in deeper, looking at three of the startups leading the charge: CasetextLex Machina, PacerPro and Ravel Law.

Free Law Project responds on judicial database. In a post earlier this week about Free Law Project’s new database of federal and state judges, I pointed out the sparseness of some of its listings and a material omission from the biography of Antonin Scalia — that he died and is no longer a sitting justice. Free Law’s executive director Mike Lissner has written a response to my post in which he says that my comparison of the database to the judicial biographies on Ballotpedia was inappropriate because they are different beasts. I encourage you to read his post for more about the database and its goals.

Lexbox out of beta. In January, I reviewed Lexbox, a free plug-in for the Chrome browser that helps organize and monitor Canadian legal research. Last week, nine months after it launched, Lexbox announced that it is officially out of its public beta stage. In that time, it has grown to have 1,000 users who have saved over 10,000 documents created over 1,400 alerts.

A blog is born. I’m an avid reader of Richard Zorza’s Access to Justice Blog, one of the best sources out there for coverage of access-to-justice news and initiatives. Now Zorza has launched another blog, Richard Zorza’s Politics and Humor Blog, which he wrote was inspired by a recent Washington Post Editorial that said: “Someday, everyone involved in American politics will be called upon to account for his or her behavior during Mr. Trump’s run for the White House.” ‘Nuff said.

And a blog is reborn. There is no better source covering Android devices in law than Jeff Taylor’s The Droid Lawyer. While it never actually died, it did go into an extended deep sleep. Now the blog is being brought out of its slumber, Taylor writes. And he’s looking for help to keep it going. So if you have an Android-related post to submit, get in touch with Jeff Taylor.

And while we’re speaking of blogs. The Paperboy’s Archive has zilch to do with law. But it’s written by a lawyer, Andrew Harris, and not only that, but a recovering lawyer who is a law and government reporter at Bloomberg News. (He’s also a really good guy who I used to work with at ALM.) His premise: Revisiting old playbills, programs, scorecards, yearbooks, magazines, newspapers and comic books — “things plucked from the on-rushing stream we call life” — to find an informal history of our time.

BeckerByrd
Lex Machina CEO Josh Becker and GC Owen Byrd at Legaltech in New York last week.

Legal analytics company Lex Machina — which LexisNexis acquired in November — is introducing a new feature today that is designed to correct and improve upon the information PACER provides about attorneys of record in federal district court lawsuits.

Called the Attorney Data Engine, it leverages various data sources extracted from PACER to correct the data that PACER does provide about attorneys.

Owen Byrd, Lex Machina’s general counsel and chief evangelist, told me in a recent conversation that PACER is often inaccurate and sometimes flat wrong in its listings of lead counsel.

Lex Machina analyzed IP dockets in New Jersey and Delaware and found that they failed to include 46 percent of attorneys who have worked on those cases, Byrd said.

The reasons for this vary, he said. PACER is replete with misspelled names of attorneys and law firms. Many attorneys are incorrectly associated with former law firms and many clients are incorrectly associated with their former attorneys’ subsequent law firms. Attorneys admitted pro hac vice are sometimes not listed at all.

To correct these errors, the Attorney Data Engine uses three tools:

  • Signature block analyzer. Every legal filing includes a signature block showing the names and firms of the attorneys. Lex Machina extracts the information from these signature blocks to find the names of all attorneys associated with the filing and their correct law firms. This will initially be rolled out for the districts of New Jersey and Delaware, with other districts to follow.
  • Pro hac vice extractor. When attorneys appear in a case pro hac vice, they are often omitted from PACER’s counsel data, Byrd said. This is sometimes true even when the pro hac vice lawyer is the lead counsel. Lex Machina finds pro hac vice motions in PACER and extracts the information about the attorney.
  • Historical snapshots. When an attorney moves to a new firm, PACER attributes that attorney’s work to the new firm, even when it was actually performed at the prior firm, Byrd said. Lex Machina corrects this by storing daily snapshots of PACER data and analyzing them to determine which attorneys and law firms worked for which clients on which cases at any given time.

Another feature of the Attorney Data Engine is name normalization. Lex Machina’s analysis of PACER data found frequent misspellings of lawyer and law firm names. The law firm Quinn Emmanuel had the most misspelled name of any firm, with 99 variations, Byrd told me. Lex Machina finds these variations and normalizes them so that all listings of a name are found. It also shows you all the variations.

Lex Machina says it spent several years developing this technology and it believes it is the only company that is trying to fix inaccurate PACER data.

I am very pleased to announce the launch of our new podcast, Law Technology Now, co-hosted with Monica Bay, longtime editor of Law Technology News now a fellow at CodeX, the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics, and produced by the Legal Talk Network.

law-tech-now200In each episode, Monica and I will explore the latest in legal technology. We’ll be joined by key players in the legal technology community to highlight the top trends and developments in the legal world.

This is actually a relaunch of the podcast, which Monica hosted until 2013. We are now reviving it, with Monica and I alternating monthly hosting duties.

We’ve just posted the first three episodes:

All three are embedded below or you can listen at the Legal Talk Network.

I hope you’ll listen and let us know what you think.

What have been 2015’s most important developments in legal technology? For the past two years, I’ve posted my picks of the top developments in legal tech (2014, 2013). With another year under our belts, it’s time to look back at 2015.

What follows are my picks for the year’s most important legal technology developments. As in past years, the numbers are not meant to be rankings — all of these are important in their own ways. I also refer you back to my prior years’ posts, as much of what I said in them remains true today.

1. Case Law Gets Democratized.

democritizationTo my mind, the biggest legal technology story of the year was the joint announcement by Harvard Law School and Ravel Law of their Free the Law project to digitize and make available to the public for free Harvard’s entire collection of U.S. case law – said to be the most comprehensive and authoritative database of American law and cases available anywhere outside the Library of Congress. As someone who has covered legal and information technology for more than two decades, this was a day I’d long hoped would arrive. Harvard’s vice dean for library and information resources, Jonathan Zittrain, summed up the significance better than I could when he said: “Libraries were founded as an engine for the democratization of knowledge, and the digitization of Harvard Law School’s collection of U.S. case law is a tremendous step forward in making legal information open and easily accessible to the public.”

This news comes at a time when legal-research start-ups continue to develop innovative ways to access and contextualize legal research. Ravel Law is one example, with its visualization tools that show the connections and relationships among cases. Casetext is another, which just this year introduced such innovations as its crowdsourced citator and its LegalPad writing and publishing tool. Developments such as these are helping to realize a long-held vision of the Internet – that it will make the law more accessible and comprehensible to everyone.

2. Analytics Take Center Stage.

Drury_Lane_1674The second-biggest legal technology story of 2015 was the acquisition of Lex Machina by LexisNexis. It was a significant deal in itself, but even more so for what it signals about the direction in which legal technology is headed. Why would one of the world’s most-established legal information and technology companies want this small, six-year-old Silicon Valley start-up? The answer, in a word: Analytics. Lex Machina has developed and refined sophisticated analytics that open new windows into court data. It takes data from the federal courts’ PACER system – dockets, court filings, orders – and lets users extract information, patterns and trends that would otherwise be invisible. It provides insights into lawyers, law firms, litigants, judges and courts that inform decision making and strategy.

So far, Lex Machina has done this for only intellectual property law, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. And there is no reason to confine such analytics to court data. There are troves of freely available government information that could harbor all sorts of invaluable information for legal professionals. Even beyond government data, analytics are already being used by lawyers in e-discovery, budgeting, fee negotiations, settlement negotiations, and a host of other applications. Lex Machina is by no means the only legal company in this space – PacerPro recently launched a new analytics tool called Litigant Profiling and Ravel Law offers its Judge Analytics – but its acquisition underscores the growing significance of data analytics in law.

3. The Duty of Technology Competence Goes Wide.

heads-in-the-sandIn 2012, when the American Bar Association formally approved a change to Rule 1.1 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to make clear that lawyers have a duty to be competent not only in the law and its practice, but also in technology, I described it as a sea change. But the Model Rules are merely models. Unless and until they are adopted by the states, they have no binding effect on lawyers. It is significant, therefore, that 20 states have now adopted what I call the duty of technology competence.  In 2015 alone, the Model Rule was adopted in nine states and became effective in another two that had adopted it late in 2014.

Why does this matter? Because there is no more hiding from technology. You can no longer competently practice law without at least a rudimentary understanding of technology, the Internet and social media. You need to know enough to recognize what you don’t know and to withdraw or bring on help when circumstances warrant. It is safe to say that, a year from now, the majority of states will have adopted the duty of technology competence. Even in states that do not, courts are increasingly signaling their impatience with lawyers who lack basic technology skills. There can be no more Luddites in law.

4. Technology-Assisted Review Becomes Mainstream.

computerman2It was less than four years ago that U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck issued the first-ever court decision to approve the use of technology-assisted review in e-discovery. It has been barely six years since the terms “technology-assisted review” and “predictive coding” first began to see use within the legal profession’s vernacular. Yet this year, Judge Peck issued another TAR decision in which he declared TAR’s use to be so widely accepted by judges that it is now “black letter law.” Whereas lawyers were initially reluctant to use TAR for fear of inconsistent results or judicial rejection, 2015 was the year in which TAR took root in the mainstream of legal technology.

The reasons for this were both practical and scientific. As its name suggests, TAR uses technology to assist in the process of reviewing electronic documents for discovery. “Assist” is a wimpy word here, because TAR can dramatically reduce the numbers of documents lawyers ever have to set their eyes on – and therefore dramatically reduce both the time and cost of discovery. With cases today sometimes requiring review of millions of documents, TAR’s impact can be huge. Those savings in time and cost form the practical argument for its use. On top of that, scientific evidence supports its effectiveness. The seminal study on this, published in 2011, showed that TAR was not only more effective than human review at finding relevant documents, but also much cheaper – producing at least a 50-fold savings in cost over manual review. Subsequent studies have reinforced these findings and shown that a particular TAR protocol called continuous active learning is superior to other forms of TAR.

This was the year in which these factors – judicial approval, practical benefits and scientific evidence – gelled and made TAR a mainstream technology.

5. Artificial Intelligence Comes to Legal Research.

Efile RobotIn the early days of 2015, a team of students at the University of Toronto created a start-up to bring artificial intelligence to legal research. Using IBM’s Watson – the computer most famous for winning Jeopardy! In 2011 – as their platform, they launched ROSS Intelligence, an AI system that they say can answer lawyers’ natural-language legal-research questions, such as, “Can a bankrupt company still conduct business?”

Initially, ROSS “learned” only a small subset of Canadian law. But in July, after receiving funding from Y Combinator, its developers moved, at least temporarily, to Silicon Valley and set their sights on the much-larger U.S. market. In addition, the global law firm Dentons announced that it was making an undisclosed investment in the company. ROSS’s developers say it can provide a lawyer with a highly relevant answer to a legal research question posed in natural language. The more it does, the more it learns and the better it gets. It can also monitor legal developments for changes that can affect your case, instead of requiring you to monitor a torrent of legal news.

Will ROSS and its progeny someday replace lawyers for legal research? I have no doubt it will at least someday become an integral tool in law practice. Whatever the future of AI in law, 2015 can be recorded as the year it got started.

6. Podcasts Enjoy a Resurgence.

1200px-Broadcasting_a_radio_play_at_NBC_studioIn a post last March, I wrote about The Rise and Fall and Rise Again of Legal Podcasts. “They were the next big thing. Then they weren’t. And now they are again,” I said, looking back over the 10 years I’ve had my own podcast, Lawyer 2 Lawyer, on the Legal Talk Network. If podcasts were looking hot earlier this year, when New York magazine proclaimed the Great Podcast Renaissance, they have only gotten hotter as the year has progressed, to the point where the Nieman Journalism Lab is predicting that podcasting is about to explode.

I’m not sure I’d use the word “explode” to describe podcasts in the legal sector, but they are clearly taking off. In fact, for the 12th edition of his annual Blawggie Awards last week, Dennis Kennedy decided not to talk at all about blogs and focus exclusively on podcasts.  Once a regular blogger, Kennedy wrote that he now sees his podcast, the Kennedy-Mighell Report, “as the primary outlet for what he was once writing on my blog.” At the Legal Talk Network, which hosts my podcast, there are now a variety of podcasts on a range of topics, including podcasts from both the ABA Journal and the blog Above the Law. In the post from March that I referenced above, I listed a number of legal podcasts that had launched just since the start of 2015. If you do not already listen to legal podcasts, it is a good time to start.

7. Microsoft Re-Surfaces.

Surface-Pro-4Microsoft products have long dominated the legal profession. More than 90 percent of lawyers use some version of the Windows operating system and most lawyers use Microsoft Office for word processing and email. So I do not mean to suggest that Microsoft was in any way losing its footing among lawyers. However, there were indications that the tide was slowly turning against it. Windows 8 was so unpopular that lawyers clung to their earlier Windows 7 or even Windows XP operating systems (until Microsoft this year finally pulled the plug on XP). And as the widespread popularity of iPhones and iPads introduced lawyers to the iOS environment, some lawyers were beginning to migrate their entire offices to Apple systems.

But two developments this year brought Microsoft back into its long-favored status. One was the official release in July of Windows 10. It was hugely successful compared to past OS roll-outs. Not only were there no major glitches, but virtually everyone seemed to love the new architecture. Windows 10 took the best of Windows 7 and 8 and achieved and achieved a truly better, faster and more modern operating system.

The other development was the surprising (to me, anyway) popularity of the Microsoft Surface line of tablets/PCs among lawyers. It is being adopted by lawyers in a range of practices, from a local prosecutor’s office to one of the world’s largest law firms, Clifford Chance, which is buying the Surface Pro 4 for all its lawyers. And it is getting good reviews from sources such as Daniel Siegel in Law Practice magazine and Tom Mighell and Dennis Kennedy in their Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast.

On top of those developments, Microsoft has been helping third-party vendors to develop legal-specific applications for its Office 365, such as the LawToolBox court deadlines app, and its communications platform formerly known as Lync (now Skype for Business) has proven popular with law firms. All in all, for Microsoft in legal, it’s been a good year.

8. The Legal Industry Gets an IPO.

ipoFor all the activity in recent years in legal technology innovation and start-ups, there has been a dearth of legal technology IPOs. That changed this year with the IPO in June of AppFolio, the Goleta, Calif.-based company that owns MyCase, the cloud-based practice-management platform, in which it raised some $74 million. I could not think of a major IPO in the legal industry in recent memory until my friend Sean Doherty, writing at Above the Law, mentioned the 2013 IPO of e-discovery and litigation support company UBIC.

Of course, even AppFolio has only a partial connection to the legal industry. Its core business is a cloud-based property-management platform for residential and commercial property managers. With its IPO, it planned to expand that business into other industry verticals. The IPO was expected to have little impact on the MyCase part of the business, Jason Randall, executive vice president of AppFolio, told me earlier this year. “We were marching on a mission before the IPO and we’re marching on the same mission after the IPO, which is giving our customers a great product to use. We’ve been heavily investing in that since day one and that hasn’t changed.”

Still, it signifies the strength of the legal market for investment. As Randall put it when I spoke with him: “We believe in this market. By buying MyCase to begin with and heavily investing in it, as we have and will continue to do, it shows our confidence that this is a great market to be in and that it is one we are committed to.”

9. Legal Blogging Hits a Plateau.

colorado-plateauAs was the case with Mark Twain 118 years ago, reports of blogging’s death have been greatly exaggerated.  But even if blogging isn’t dead, it may have hit a plateau. According to the ABA’s 2015 Legal Technology Survey Report, growth in blogging among lawyers is virtually stagnant. Overall, the percentages of law firms with blogs and of lawyers who personally blog have remained largely unchanged over the past three years. Similar findings were reported by the 2015 Am Law 200 Blog Benchmark Report, a report on large law firm blogs prepared by the blog company LexBlog. While it reported a significant increase in large-firm blogs since 2007, it found only minor growth in the last three years.

However, it would be a mistake to equate the number of blogs with the importance of blogs. As I told the ABA Journal recently and wrote here earlier this year, I see blogs as more important than ever within the legal industry. I’ve cited the prominence and influence of SCOTUSblog so many times that they’re getting sick of hearing me mention them. But ask yourself where lawyers are turning for information. In increasing numbers, they are turning to blogs. Yes, some blogs are dying. But others are thriving. And meanwhile, established legal news publishers are shuttering publications or rolling through owners. Blogging will continue to evolve in the years ahead, but it’s not going away anytime soon.

10. Practice Management Continues to Expand.

practicemanagement2You would think that I would be done talking about practice management. After all, in my 2013 post, I wrote it was the year in which practice management “went mainstream,” thanks to the growing crop of sophisticated and established cloud-based practice management platforms. Then last year, I again included the continued growth in the use of practice management applications as a major development, noting in particular that these applications were evolving from maintaining a narrow focus on simple practice management to becoming something wider — providing a variety of integrated tools and services that address an array of functions within a law office.

But here I am again, continuing to be amazed at how this segment continues to thrive and evolve. We still have new platforms raising financing and getting launched, such as PracticePanther; we still see the more established platforms continuing to build out their products, and we even saw the parent company of one platform complete a successful IPO (see #8 above). And then came the recent news from Microsoft that it had decided to open-source its practice management platform, Matter Center for Office 365. Practice management is not a sexy topic, but it continues to be one of the hottest – if not the hottest – areas of technology growth and development in the legal industry.

 

LexMachinaHome

Last week – three weeks after the acquisition of Lex Machina by LexisNexis – I had an opportunity to talk to Josh Becker, Lex Machina’s CEO, about the deal and about what had transpired in its aftermath.

My first question to him was why the deal made sense for Lex Machina. His answer in a nutshell: “It just made a ton of sense.”

Lex Machina has a very ambitious vision of bringing to all of law the kinds of litigation analytics it has developed for intellectual property, Becker said. While it could have done that on its own, it would have taken a lot of time and a lot of money to acquire and code the docket information and court filings.

LexisNexis already has an extensive collection of federal and state docket and documents, primarily through its CourtLink service. “For us, that made it a no-brainer,” Becker said.

In addition, Lex Machina’s customers had been clamoring for the company to expand its analytics into other areas of law. “This deal will allow us to be able to support them at the level of support they’re used to. For them, it’s great as well. We can do more better faster.”

Next Areas of Development

So what are the next areas of law Lex Machina will expand into?

Although the company has a detailed product roadmap for the next two years, Becker was reluctant to disclose much in the way of specifics.

He did say that the next areas of coverage will be common federal practices, including securities, commercial, employment and bankruptcy.

In addition to expanding into new areas, Lex Machina will add new analytics features, including around attorney data.

At some point in the future, Lex Machina will also expand into applying its analytics to data from state court dockets.

Integration with Lexis Products

I asked Becker about plans for incorporating Lex Machina’s analytics into other LexisNexis products. The initial focus will remain on expanding Lex Machina’s existing platform into other areas of law, not on incorporating its analytics into other products, he said.

However, it will definitely merge into LexisNexis products at some point. “We’ve already spec’d out getting that into Lexis Advance,” he said.

“Imagine you’re in Lexis Advance and a company comes up and there will be a way to get analytics on that company. We’ll start out with light integration like that and see what happens over time. I wouldn’t expect to see any of that immediately.”

A Standalone Operation

Becker confirmed what had earlier been reported, that Lex Machina will operate as a standalone unit. He will remain as CEO and everyone who formerly worked for Lex Machina has signed on to stay with the company.

With any acquisition, he acknowledged, there is concern about whether it will play out as expected, but he said that all indications so far is that everything is going well.

“So far so good. Everyone’s really excited about it. We’re already hard at work at getting the data [from LexisNexis] so we can ingest it and see what we can do.”

That process of ingesting the data involves three steps, he said:

  • Get the data out of the LexisNexis system and into Lex Machina’s.
  • Apply the algorithms and machine learning, which automatically identifies and tags different types of documents, such as a motion to dismiss.
  • Go back and code all the data.

The initial go-around involves analyzing and coding roughly 1 million new cases. Once the ingestion and coding is done, Lex Machina can begin rolling out new practice areas. The first three will be commercial, bankruptcy and employment.

I asked Becker whether all of this will have any impact on Lex Machina’s pricing. He said that it probably won’t bring prices down directly. However, as the platform goes from covering just a small percentage of the areas in which a firm practices to a much larger percentage, it will become more affordable overall, he said.

I asked Becker if there are any areas of practice not suitable to Lex Machina’s analytics. He answered by quoting Lex Machina’s general counsel, Owen Byrd. “Owen always says, ‘You’ll know we’ve succeeded when we get to admiralty.”

 

 

Following up on my posts earlier today (here and here) about the acquisition by LexisNexis of Silicon Valley legal analytics company Lex Machina, I had an opportunity to speak with Steven Errick, vice president and managing director of research services at LexisNexis, who gave me more details about the deal and plans for the future.

With regard to Lex Machina’s staff and operations, little will change, Errick said. Lex Machina will be a wholly owned subsidiary of LexisNexis and will continue to operate as a standalone unit. Lex Machina CEO Josh Becker will continue to run Lex Machina and it will remain in its current Menlo Park, Calif., location.

Most importantly, said Errick, there will be no job cuts or job reorganizations of any kind at Lex Machina. (My earlier post suggested that some Lex Machina employees were concerned about their jobs.) “There is no need for anyone at Lex Machina to worry or be concerned,” he said.

With regard to Lex Machina’s analytics technology, Errick sees it developing in several directions. Lex Machina will continue to develop and expand its signature analytics product, both within the IP arena and into other practice areas. Likely areas of development in the near future include into other areas of federal court litigation, such as securities and bankruptcy.

At the same time, Errick also sees the analytics technology being used to help power and enhance other LexisNexis products, including both general research products such as Lexis Advance and more specialized ones such as Patent Advisor.

Errick takes issue with any suggestions that LexisNexis has not been a technology innovator in its own right, including in the area of legal analytics. He points to products such as Litigation Profile Suite and MedMal Navigator as examples.

But just as LexisNexis has always taken a two-pronged approach to content development — either build it or license it — it is taking the same approach to technology.

“You either build or you acquire. My answer is, we’ll do anything — build, buy or license — to get the best technology.”

“We have an innovation roadmap for Lexis Advance. The question is, how do we accelerate that road map. This is an investment in acceleration. It’s also an investment in talent. They’re going to help build our future.”

Errick analogizes this acquisition to LexisNexis’s acquisition of Law360, which continues to operate as an independent brand with its own products, but which also provides content and adds value to various LexisNexis products.

“Our whole approach with acquisitions is to let them do what they do best,” Errick said. “If their technology and their team are leading the market, our approach is to give them the resources they need to continue that. Our approach is let the innovators innovate and try to protect them.”

LexMachinaHome

[For an update, see: LexisNexis VP Steven Errick Discusses Lex Machina Acquisition.]

Following up on my earlier post today, Rumor Mill: Is LexisNexis About to Buy Lex Machina?I have received confirmation from LexisNexis that the acquisition has taken place. Here’s the note I received from Ashley Jefferson, communications coordinator for LexisNexis:

In response to your recent inquiry, I’m pleased to share with you that LexisNexis today announced the acquisition of Silicon Valley-based Lex Machina, creators of the award-winning Legal Analytics platform that helps law firms and companies excel in the business and practice of law.

Lex Machina proved the value of Legal Analytics in Intellectual Property law, and the technology is a must-have for 45 of the top 100 IP law firms and many top American corporations like Google, eBay, IBM and Nike.

Because legal analytics is a rapidly growing area of technology in the legal space, your readers may be interested in the acquisition for two primary reasons:

  • A look into the near future. The integration of Lex Machina Legal Analytics with the deep collection of LexisNexis content and technology will unleash the creation of new, innovative solutions to help predict the results of legal strategies for all areas of the law.
  • Industry narrative. The acquisition is a prominent and fresh example of how a major player in legal technology and publishing is investing in analytics capabilities.

With its acquisition, Lex Machina becomes part of the ongoing LexisNexis commitment to offer modern, next-generation solutions that help legal professionals work more efficiently, make better-informed decisions and drive success for their clients, practice and business.

Please let me know if you are interested in learning more and I would be happy to set up a conversation about what Legal Analytics is, how it can help legal professionals and the exciting synergies and technological innovations that each company brings to the table.

For perspective on this from Bloomberg Law President David Perla, see my earlier post.