Two years ago Lexis launched Lexis Answers which leverages AI to deliver responses to natural language research queries with a declarative statement of law with supporting citations. Since that time there have been intriguing references in the legal tech press to the development of Lexis chatbots. Lexis pulled back the curtain on their new chatbox “Lexis Research Assistant” at a press event held during LegalWeek in New York last month.
What If Alexa Went to Law School?
Serena Wellen who works at Lexis Labs introduced her demo of the bot with the question: “What if legal research was more like a conversation?” The chatbot is designed to become familiar with the research history of each individual researcher. The chatbot activity appears in the right column in the screenshot above. Typical chatbot scenarios include:
- Suggesting where to resume a research session
- Reminding a researcher that they had performed similar research several days or several months ago
- Suggesting filters to narrow the focus of research
The research assistant will be a feature in Lexis Advance. According the Jeff Pfeifer, Vice President, Product Management LexisNexis Legal and Professional. “The Lexis Research Assistant is under development in our Lexis Labs. We have no definitive dates for release but plan to release later in 2019 when our users testing the solution tell us it is ready for broader release. With new solutions like the Research Assistant, we take great effort to ensure that significant utility is achieved by the introduction of new functionality.”
It has been 18 years since Lexis acquired CourtLink – a stand alone research service which aggregated dockets from 1,400 federal, state and local court systems. It has been a long and sometimes bumpy road to full integration with the Lexis service. In the press release announcing the CourtLink acquisition includes a prescient quote from Lou Andreozzi, then President of LexisNexis North America Legal Markets. “We firmly believe the online services and emerging markets CourtLink has pioneered will bring tremendous value to the Legal Profession at large.” That is actually a spectacular understatement given the recent explosion of the legal analytics market. The CourtLink archive has provided a data pipeline to fuel analytics products Lex Machina and Context (formerly Ravel) which were subsequently acquired by Lexis.
LexisNexis is completely re-imagining the CourtLink experience. The screenshot above shows a clean intuitive interface with “lots of whitespace.” In April 2019, CourtLink users will get access to a completely re-built product – designed on the Lexis Advance platform. According to Pfeifer,—– technical investments will deliver improved product platform performance and ultimately, links to leading Lexis Analytics solutions Context and Lex Machina. I have repeatedly pleaded with Lexis to integrate all of their acquisitions. Lexis is delivering that integration through the “Lexis Advance Legal Product Ecosystem” which promises seamless authentication across LexisNexis products, contextual linking, common user experience and guidance to extend research. Pfeifer describes Lexis’ goal to “reduce training time and improve product adoption by creating common user experience across our solutions.”
What’s Next for CourtLink Customers? Lexis customers will begin migrating from legacy CourtLink to Lexis Advance CourtLink in April. Users will have access to both platforms during migration and all personal data – alerts, tracks, etc. – will be transferred automatically. As with Lexis Advance, LexisNexis customer teams will work with clients to support and schedule CourtLink migration plans.