Last week I attended a private press preview of Thomson Reuters latest enhancement to Westlaw Edge: Precedent Analytics. Although Thomson Reuters was the first legal publisher to launch a legal analytics product aimed at librarians and marketers (The Thomson Reuters Intelligence Center); they were a very late to the “analytics for lawyers” party. For several years I predicted the imminent launch of a Thomson Reuters analytics product. In July 2018 a new platform Westlaw Edge was launched which offered litigation analytics based on 8 million federal dockets and 150 million state dockets. Since that launch they have continued to expand the motion filters available in Westlaw Edge. They currently offer filters on 23 motion types and more than 100 motion sub-types. Today they are launching a very different analytics feature.
Analytics Allow Lawyers to Ask Completely New Questions
Precedent Analytics relies primarily on case law not on docket data. Leveraging the 500 million citing relationships within the Westlaw system, the new feature provides visualizations and insights into judge’s precedential citation history. A lawyer can use Precedent Analytics to see which judges, cases, districts or circuits a judge relies on most often on when writing their opinions.
Here are the some of the new questions that a lawyer can ask about a specific judge:
- How often does a judge cite to other districts?
- What judges do they cite most often?
- What cases to they cite most often on a specific issue?
- What language does a judge use when discussing an issue.
Search results are enhanced with:
- Visualization of citing relationship by topic.
- Navigation of a judges citation history using topics and key numbers.
- Keycite flags and new “overruling risk” feature are included in search results.
Illustrations of the new features appear at the bottom of the post.
Jeff Arvidson, Thomson Reuters, Director of Analytics described the challenges of designing new analytics features. The Thomson Reuters data is so rich, that they had to narrow their focus to deliver new features which deliver the most impactful and strategic insights.
Mike Dahn, Senior Vice President of Westlaw Product Management, is quoted in the press release: “Understanding which cases judges cite to most often by topic can be incredibly important for brief writing and effective advocacy. Only Westlaw Edge enables litigators to see this information by topic with the most sophisticated topical classification of U.S. law, the West Key Number System.”
Precedent Analytics Is fully integrated with litigation analytics on Westlaw Edge and will become immediately available to Westlaw Edge subscribers. Learn more about Litigation Analytics on Westlaw Edge, now including Precedent Analytics, here.
The Benefits of Competition
Sophisticated researchers will immediately compare Precedent Analytics with Ravel Law (now Context). When Ravel Law first launched its judicial analytics back in 2015, I was intrigued to see a start-up take the raw material of case law and expose insights which had been hidden inside but never developed by the established CALR systems Lexis and Westlaw. Lexis responded by acquiring Ravel Law. I assume that the existence of Ravel motivated Thomson Reuters to accelerate development of their judicial insights product. Thomson Reuters leveraged their massive archive of editorial intelligence and supercharged their caselaw repository which included their topic and key number taxonomy and 500 million citation relationships. This is a powerful foundation on which to build a judicial analytics product. Precedent Analytics is an important new feature and I have no doubt is not the last enhancement Thomson Reuters has in the pipeline for delivering new insights to their subscribers of the Westlaw Edge platform.
Transparency is the Key to Winning the Analytics War.
The Thomson Reuters press release states that no other service offers “more analytics across more documents motion types in case types.” I would love it if they would support that statement up with some comparative data. There are many competitors in the analytics market in addition to including, Lexis Lex Machina and Context, Bloomberg Law, Fastcase/Docket Alarm, Gavelytics, Judicata and Docket Navigator. The explosion of analytics products in the legal market has been accompanied by exponential levels of confusion over product claims regarding content, metrics, reporting and functionality. Customers– myself included– need more documentation backing up various claims especially comparative claims regarding content and functionality. Analytics products are much more complex than their online research predecessors., The consumers in the analytics market are restless and impatient for clear answers. Legal publishers need to understand that their ability to provide documentation explaining their products will be as important as the products themselves in 2019.
Below are screenshots of some of the new features: