New Legal Research Site on the Block

In an already crowded field, CourtListener, the newest free legal research website in town, impresses with its repositories of millions of legal opinions, thousands of judge reports (primarily directory type information), an audio collection of  oral arguments, and millions of PACER documents and dockets.

That alone would be enough to garner attention, but adding to that, its advanced search options for the various databases it offers makes it even more outstanding.

Advanced opinion search:


Citation search using the official volume number, reporter and page number:


Advanced search of PACER documents and dockets:


Advanced Judge search:


Oral Argument Search:


All in all a resource worth exploring and using!




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LegalBoard, Echo, and Fake News!

LegalBoard is a first of its kind computer keyboard designed by lawyers for lawyers/legal professionals. Via simply plugging LegalBoard in and pressing a button you are switched to legal mode which lets “you add track changes, comments, and common legal terms, symbols (i.e. §, ¶, and ©) and citations with a single keystroke”. Genius! Wonder for which profession will get the next customized professional keyboard?

Amazon Echo appears to be the latest craze in hands-free voice activated tools. While primarily intended for personal use it does have features that could be useful for attorneys but all users should be aware of potential risks. By saying a wake word – Alexa, Amazon, or Echo – anyone within hearing distance of the device, which cannot distinguish between voices, has “access to every single account you’ve linked to it” and potentially allowing a houseguest to ask the amount of your bank account or letting children inadvertently order food, toys etc.  Moreover, due to the confidentiality of client conversations and data, extra caution is in order if using Echo in a law office as requests are stored on Amazon’s server for a yet undetermined period of time.

Developed by researchers at Indiana University Hoaxy (Beta) is a partial solution to the “fake news” phenomenon. It tracks “social sharing of links to stories published by two types of websites: (1) Independent fact-checking organizations, such as,, and … and (2) Sources that often publish inaccurate, unverified, or satirical claims.” While Hoaxy does not verify if the claim is true or false, it is a good starting point for researching the veracity of a news claim.

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Trends and Players in the Legal AI World

Since my last post, Artificially Intelligent Lawyers, Oh My! a lot has happened in the world of artificial intelligence technology (AI). In this post, we’ll explore the uses, latest developments, advantages of AI adoption by law firms, and take a look at some of the current and up and coming players in legal AI.

Inside ROSS: What Artificial Intelligence Means for your Firm delves into the specifics of what ROSS Intelligence brings to the table for bankruptcy research, namely speed and accuracy by providing on-point results when give a specific bankruptcy legal question. Legal Artificial Intelligence Explained provides a succinct definition of the term and enumerates five potential uses for it in the legal field. Five AI Pioneers to Watch showcases five up and coming AI technology companies and their analytic products.

AI adoption in law firms is trending upward and the big AI players are Neota Logic, Kira Systems, Ravn Systems, Ravel Law, Lex Machina, NextLaw Labs and eBrevia. While currently the main uses are in document review and due diligence work, use of it for performing legal research is on the rise too as evidenced by the adoption of ROSS Intelligence by some law firms. Of course Lexis and Thomson Reuters (i.e. Westlaw) legal research providers have already dipped their toes into the world of AI via the latter  partnering with IBM Watson technology and the former’s recent roll-out of case analytics.

Advantages abound for law firms that embrace artificial intelligence. Because AI learns from the relationships between words and what provisions and concepts look like from samples of documents or research questions asked, it speeds and improves the process of drafting documents and doing legal research. Also as a technology that automates mundane tasks, it frees up a lawyers’ time to focus on the higher level skill of advising clients.

Is your law firm ready to jump on the AI bandwagon before it becomes mainstream? If so it better hurry because with the announcement that Microsoft merges Bing, Cortana, and Research to make 5,000-strong AI division  and Google Analytics making AI mainstream, other technology giants can’t be far behind.




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Artificially Intelligent Lawyers, Oh My!

A few months back in my Robots Replacing Attorneys? post mention was made of the app Fixed that has successfully assisted individuals appeal traffic tickets. The latest development is its acquisition by LawGix, a law firm that is also part technology company. While LawGix certainly acquired it for its technology, not its talent, this novel acquisition may be a bellwether for the legal industry in the arena of artificial intelligence.

If the latest news, here and here is any indication, traditional brick and mortar law firms are also quickly getting on the artificial intelligence bandwagon. From ROSS, of Jeopardy fame, which purportedly learned the basics of bankruptcy law in a mere 10 months to Artificially Intelligent Authors, Oh My! the lines of what constitutes work done by real human beings versus computer algorithms is becoming significantly blurred. All of which begs the question – can humans discern the difference? If you want to test your ability to discern computer versus human writing take this quiz. Depending on your score, it might be an indication of how you’d fare if presented with a similar quiz testing your ability to determine if a real lawyer versus a robot addressed your legal issue? Hmm…would it be better to pass or fail such a test?

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Top 5 Must Have Productivity Tools

  1. INVESTINTECH’s PDF to Word Converter is not your average document converter tool. What sets it apart from other like-tools is its ability to convert both scanned and native PDFs to Word, it requires no software installation on your computer, supports all files sizes, and is completely free to use.
  2. ($10/user/month) is designed to help managers  who hold a lot of meetings make meeting management more productive. It guides you toward better meeting practices and provides a central place for meeting archives, follow-ups and outcome tracking, and more.
  3. (free) has been around for quite some time now and is an excellent way to effortlessly set up polls for scheduling meetings. It is free to use, and respondents need not join to answer a poll. It delivers on its promise in cutting down on needless emails to determine the best time for a group of individuals to meet by streamlining the process of scheduling.
  4. FreshBooks (starting at $9.95/mo) is a cloud accounting tool for managing and tracking invoices, time, and expenses for very small businesses. A risk-free 30 day trial lets you try it out and determine if it works for you.
  5. Pocket (free) formerly Read It Later, lets users save Web pages, video clips, and images to their accounts and access them at a later time. The next time a blog post, tweet or link to an interesting article threatens to distract you, tap the Pocket icon and rest assured that the item will be waiting for you to peruse later.
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Robots Replacing Attorneys?

Lately the blogosphere has been ablaze with articles discussing the potential demise of legal professionals due to advances in technology. Take for example this story about how a young man developed a robot that has appealed $3 million in parking tickets, and this ABA article plausibly suggesting “that over time—by which we mean decades rather than overnight—there will be technological unemployment in the professions”. In other words,  at minimum basic legal tasks accomplished with the use of technology will replace some tasks that lawyers do leading to the need for less of them.

A few law firms are offering unique and innovative ways of providing legal services such as CooleyGo which offers basic transactional document drafting for free, in the hopes that it will bring more complex paid legal work in the door. And likewise, Axiom Law with the tagline “forget everything you thought you knew about legal services” seems to be disrupting the way in which certain kinds of legal work is done by providing the assistance of non-law firm attorneys on a variety of legal tasks at presumably lower costs to the consumer. Finally, Beagle while not a law firm is an artificial intelligence service that offers automated contract analysis that traditionally has been accomplished by real live attorneys.

Will robots/technology replace real live human attorneys? If you consider that for years the onerous but important research task of consulting voluminous Shepard’s volumes to make certain the cases you were citing were still “good law” has been done by technology (i.e. Shepardizing, Keycite), it is easy to answer yes to that question. Clearly, technology will continue to change the practice of law and routine legal tasks such as cite-checking, document review, and basic contract drafting will be taken over by robots or  technology.

However, overall the outcome is more likely to be that posited in Maybe Lawyers Can’t Be Uber-ized. After all, law is a service industry and people like to be served. In fact they often don’t have the time nor desire to do it themselves. I’m not sure I’d want a robot giving me legal advice nor representing me in the courtroom. Would you?



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Cloud Computing in Law Firms: Progress?

In late 2012 my post The Inevitability of Cloud Computing in Law Firms summarized findings from a 2012 global cloud survey finding that 45% of respondents favored use of it for certain applications and predicted widespread adoption of cloud computing was just around the corner.

On the legal side, the ABA recently published a handy chart here and map (see below) detailing states with or without an ethics opinion the issue that while revealing law firms are at least at the corner, widespread adoption has yet to occur. Of the 19 states with an opinion all permit storage of client files in the cloud and say that “reasonable care” must be exercised in using the cloud. Each state varies on additional  criteria that must be met if a law firm wishes to utilize the cloud for storing documents.


Blue means the state has an ethics opinion allowing use of the cloud and grey means state has yet to issue an opinion. Source:

My follow-up post Cloud Computing: An Update which summarized a few cloud usage predictions from a Gartner top predictions report for IT stated that by the end of 2016 “more than 50 percent of Global 1000 companies will have stored customer-sensitive data in the public cloud.” While it is not clear that prediction as come to fruition, employees of those companies are using the cloud as evidenced by the results of an IBM security study that found “1 in every 3 Fortune 1000 employees regularly saves and shares company data to external cloud-based platforms, which their companies cannot track.”

Perhaps the same is happening in law firms as well. Nevertheless, as more states release ethics opinions, widespread adoption by law firms will not only round the corner, and albeit not put all concerns aside, will leave lack of widespread adoption in the dust.

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