Ever since LexisNexis acquired the legal research startup Ravel last June, its plan has been to integrate Ravel’s caselaw visualization technology and data analytics into Lexis Advance. Earlier this year, I published a preview of the integration of the visualization technology. Today, LexisNexis is formally launching that integration and beginning to roll it out to customers.

The name given to this new tool within Lexis Advance is Ravel View. It looks and functions very much like Ravel did as a standalone platform, but with one significant difference — the Ravel visualizations now include Shepard’s citation information.

Ravel’s concept all along has been to display search results visually, along a cluster map that shows the relationships among cases and their relative importance to each other. This visual depiction provides researchers with a quicker understanding of the overall landscape of relevant cases and also helps identify the cases that are most important.

In the standard search-results view, click the icon in the upper right corner to switch to Ravel View.

Now in Lexis Advance, when a user conducts a query, the default results page will remain the traditional list of relevant cases. But the user will be able to click an icon in the upper rate of the screen to toggle the visual view, which displays the cluster map on the left side of the screen and the list of cases on the right.

Ravel View shows search results visually, with cases represented by circles on a cluster map.

Ravel View maps the top 75 cases relevant to the user’s search. Each case is represented as a circle, with lines between circles showing the citations between cases. This visualization shows:

  • Citation frequency. The bigger the circle, the more frequently that case has been cited by other cases, a measure of its importance.
  • Chronology. Ravel View maps cases across time, revealing trends and patterns in the development of precedent.
  • Jurisdiction. The vertical axis shows the Supreme Court at the top, followed by federal and state courts below. This shows the governing relationships among cases based on their court hierarchy.
  • Relevance. The higher a circle appears within each jurisdiction band, the more relevant the case is to the search.

When a user clicks on any circle, Ravel View displays the case name and citation relationships, and elevates the case to the top of the search results in the right panel so users can read the full  description.

Hover over a line connecting two cases to show the Shepard’s treatment.

The incorporation of Shepard’s comes by way of the lines connecting each case. The lines are colored green, yellow or red to correlate to Shepard’s signal colors for positive and negative treatments. By hovering over a line, the user can display the language from the citing case that illustrates why Shepard’s assigned that treatment.

Ravel View will become available to every Lexis Advance subscriber on a phased-in basis over the next couple of weeks. By mid-July, it should be available to everyone.

Ravel CEO Daniel Lewis, who conceived the visual legal research platform while a second-year student at Stanford Law School, told me earlier this week that he is particularly excited about the integration of the Shepard’s citator information into Ravel’s visualizations.

“The highlight is the cool combination of taking the technology we had and adding it to the content and expertise that Lexis has to create this mashup,” he said.

Still to come is the integration of Ravel’s analytics into Lexis Advance. Ravel’s suite of analytics included court, judge and case analytics. The first of those integrations will come out over the next couple months, he said, in the form of a new product on the Lexis platform. That effort is being led by Ravel cofounder Nick Reed.

For now, Ravel continues to operate as a standalone platform. But once the integration is complete, Ravel’s customers will be transitioned to Lexis, Lewis said. “The things you liked in Ravel you will be able to do better in Lexis,” he said.

Daniel Lewis was just in his second year at Stanford Law School when he had an idea for a different way to do legal research, as I recounted in this 2014 ABA Journal article. His idea was to display search results visually, along a cluster map that shows the relationships among cases and their relative importance to each other. Shortly after he graduated in 2012, he and classmate Nicholas Reed had launched the legal research platform derived from his idea, Ravel Law. Last June, five years after its founding, Ravel was acquired by legal research giant LexisNexis.

By that time, Ravel had also developed a suite of analytics that included court analytics, judge analytics and case analytics. At the time of the acquisition, Jeff Pfeifer, VP of product management for LexisNexis, told me that the acquisition — which followed the acquisition of another legal analytics company, Lex Machina — was part of the company’s broader vision “to create the data-driven lawyer of the future.”

From the outset, the plan was to integrate Ravel’s data visualization technology and data analytics into Lexis Advance and other Lexis products, and to bring those integrations to market starting within the first quarter of 2018.

They are, it seems, right on schedule. At Legalweek in New York this week, I met with Pfeifer and Lewis and saw a preview of the integration of Ravel’s visualization technology into Lexis Advance. The integration is scheduled to be released early in March, said Pfeifer, who reaffirmed the company’s commitment to enabling “data-driven law.”

Preview of Integration

The two images that follow are a preview of this integration.

In the first image, you see what will be the default view after a user conducts a search. This looks much like it would look today, but with one notable change. The circle to the right of each result is what Pfeifer jokingly called the “Shepard’s donut.” It uses the colors of Shepard’s signal indicators to give the user a quick visual overview of how the case has been treated in subsequent citations.

By clicking View Mode in the upper right corner of the screen, the user can switch over to the search visualization mode based on the Ravel integration. This will look familiar to anyone who has ever seen Ravel. It uses the same cluster map of larger and smaller bubbles showing connections among cases and relative importance of cases, all arranged along a timeline.

One notable addition to the visualization is Shepard’s citation data. Now, the lines connecting cases include a colored dot, with the dot reflecting the Shepard’s signal indicator. Click on the dot to bring up a selection of text from the citing case that shows the basis for the Shepard’s treatment.

Analytics on Experts

As I said, the visualization will become available in Lexis Advance in March. In a second phase, scheduled for May, Ravel’s analytics tools will be incorporated into Lexis Advance. This will allow Ravel’s court, judge and case analytics to be used within Advance, and will extend the reach of those analytics to a broader selection of state, as well as federal, trial courts.

The May release will also use Ravel’s analytics to provide a greater depth of information about expert witnesses.  expand the analytics to include expert witnesses. A current product, LexisNexis Litigation Profile Suite, will be replaced by an updated product with a new name — as yet to be decided — that marries Ravel’s analytics with the existing profiles to provide more information on experts, such as how often they have been challenged, how often they testify, and more. The new Profile Suite product will also have more in-depth analytics on parties, judges and neutrals.

(Profile Suite will continue to be available for current customers who prefer not to move to the new product, Pfeifer said.)

Harvard Case Data

Before its acquisition by LexisNexis, Ravel had embarked on a project with Harvard Law School to digitize all U.S. case law. As I reported at the time of the acquisition, both Harvard and LexisNexis committed to completing that project, carried out under the auspices of the Harvard Library Innovation Lab.

The scanning of all those cases wrapped up nearly a year ago, but the final clean-up and digitization was just completed, Pfeifer and Lewis told me. Those cases have now been added to the Lexis Advance database. The total collection from Harvard was 5-7 million documents, and a “few hundred thousand” of them were cases not previously included in Lexis, Pfeifer said. That brought the number of case documents in Lexis Advance from 13.5 million to nearly 14 million.

In addition, later this year, Lexis Advance will be adding PDFs of all the cases from the Harvard collection. These include cases from before the American Revolution up to 2016.

Part of the agreement between Ravel and Harvard was that access to these cases would remain free to everyone. After the acquisition, LexisNexis and Harvard confirmed that commitment. Pfeifer and Lewis said this week that the Ravel website will be maintained as the primary site for the public to access those cases.

 

When LexisNexis acquired the legal analytics platform Lex Machina in November 2015, the the plan was to integrate Lex Machina’s analytics into various LexisNexis products and, in particular, its Lexis Advance legal research platform. Last January, it took the first step in that direction when it integrated judge analytics into Lexis Advance, and later in the year it added integration for law firm analytics.

Yesterday LexisNexis rolled out the third such integration, attorney analytics. Now, when Lexis Advance users are viewing full-text cases, they can click on the names of the attorneys involved in the case and view summary charts showing data about the attorney, such as the attorney’s case-filing history.

This works for the practice areas currently covered by Lex Machina: patent, copyright, trademark, antitrust, securities, employment, commercial, product liability and federal bankruptcy appeals.

From that summary page, Lexis Advance users who also have a subscription to Lex Machina can drill further into the full Lex Machina set of analytics.

(Note that attorneys’ names have been blotted out from these images.)