Legal Research: Evolution

The practice of law has always included legal Research. The definition of legal Research has changed over time, particularly in the last decade. What has changed, and what does this mean for attorneys?

Legal Research then

The history of legal Research is a long one.

There are many books. Rows upon rows of books. This was “legal research,” as it was used until relatively recently.

Although the digitization of legal Research is a significant advancement, the fundamental routine remains unchanged.

Books were traded for computers. But lawyers are doing the same thing, though with fewer headaches.

Legal Research now

Legal Research has continued with the digital transition. Legal Research is evolving as technology advances. These advances have led to changes in legal Research.

The process of legal Research has changed from scouring online databases to obtaining the correct information. Your information is more accurate and enhanced by additional analyses and editorial enhancements.

Today’s legal Research offers you more.

Even if you have completed “official” Research, legal research technology today offers much more.

How can you tell how thorough you were? How can you be sure that the authorities that support your argument are reliable?

Research often reveals the case you are interested in – whether it is a specific legal issue, fact pattern, or motion type. There could be thousands of topics that are relevant to your search. Many cases may have different laws and other facts or need to be corrected.

New capabilities allow you to do research more efficiently and locate on-point cases. This gives you greater confidence in your Research.

With Precision Research on Westlaw Precision, you can quickly and accurately find legal and factually related cases. You can run a search to gather all relevant circumstances and then filter your results to get exactly what you are looking for.

Sometimes, you may know precisely what you are looking for, but you also know that many relevant issues and rules can change over the years. Although traditional research methods help you understand how a particular case is connected to others or how a problem has changed over the years, they can take time and effort.

Westlaw Precision has expanded KeyCite functions that can assist you with heavy lifting. KeyCite Cite With shows related cases that are cited together even though one does not mention the other. This allows you to understand their relationship better and find additional relevant authority. KeyCite Partly Overruled indicates that a case was partially overruled and will enable you to navigate to the language of the case addressing the issue.

Westlaw Precision makes it easy to locate what you need quickly. Find out how Westlaw Precision can benefit your company.

The growing legal research bubble

The scope of legal Research is expanding because of the vast amount of raw data available to be analyzed by AI. Legal Research is more than just the laws and court rulings.

Analyzing past rulings is an example of AI that can provide insight into judge behavior.

In your case, how often is a judge for the plaintiff? What is your particular type of motion? What arguments are most appealing to your judge? Which authority do you prefer?

Understanding the propensities of your judge will help you craft the strongest argument. It will also help you identify the authority you have missed or could be beneficial to highlight.

Knowing the habits of your judge can help you establish expectations for your clients regarding the costs, timing, and potential outcomes of the case. Clients hate bad news from lawyers as much as they dislike surprises.

What do you need to know about opposing counsel?

This type of insight is not limited to your judge. You can get data-driven analytics on your opponent’s counsel and the law firm if they have any court history.

What amount of experience does your opponent counsel have in a given area? What are their successes in certain types of motions they have? Are they familiar with your judge?

Legal Research now gives you the answers to all these questions and more. This will allow you to plan like never before.

You can have it – and they

Although we have focused on the positive effects these advances in legal Research can bring you, they don’t just apply to you.

Your opponents also have the same analytics and enhancements. They can search for every relevant authority and eliminate the weak ones. Additionally, they can gain insight into the habits of their judges and those of opposing counsel.

Your opposing counsel can review an AI-generated profile of your litigation history. This is only one way that an opponent can gain insight into you. Quick Check, a tool that allows you to quickly check the briefs and memos of other parties for weaknesses, can also be used.

What does it mean for you?

This means you can use Quick Check for flaws in your opponent’s arguments. However, it also applies to the reverse. You can now use Quick Check to help your opponents find any authority that needs to be added or determine if a rule you rely on is invalid.

Imagine being in a courtroom with opposing counsel and hearing the judge speak out about a ruling not included in your brief. It can be hard to rebound from a significant blow to your credibility.

The next generation in Legal Research

You can’t remain in the legal Research of yesterday indefinitely. The more you move into the future, then the greater the benefits.

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