Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Citation Fingerprints, Celestial Footnotes and Opinion Sourcing : Casetext Launches CARA

In Recent years the exhibit hall at the AALL Annual Meeting & Conference has become a "go to " destination of  legal start-up executives  who act as “roving evangelists” offering elevator pitches and a quick demo in hotel lobbies and coffee shops. 

Image result for casetext logoThis year  in Chicago, I was “pitched” when I walked into the conference room where I was about to moderate a panel on AI entitled “Can Robots Be Lawyers? “  Pablo Arredondo, the VP of Research at Casetext offered to  show me a new product called CARA.  After a brief demo, I was interested enough to schedule a follow up webex.

Roving evangelists
I love talking to legal tech entrepreneurs. Having been trained in traditional  legal research tools and analytical techniques – I  love the “a-ha”  moment when I realize that a new product has  uncovered insights into data that was essentially “hiding in plain sight.”  I had one of those moments in the CARA demo.
Casetext  which offers free caselaw research, access to  analytical memos from 150 law firms and a “crowd sourced “citator called  “We-cite”  is launching their first “fee based” product:CARA. Casetext currently includes over 7 million primary  documents including case law from all 50 states. CARA stands for Computer Assisted Research Assistant.
Drag and Drop document here
The Brief as Query. CARA is very easy to use. All a lawyer has to do is drag and drop a brief into CARA. Instead of searching with keywords, CARA uses the entire brief as the query . CARA  data-mines the brief by extracting both the text and the citations  from the document. The CARA analysis looks at direct relationships and “implied” relationships between the cited cases in the  brief and related opinions in the Casetext database. CARA  uses latent semantic analysis to sort the results. The CARA results report includes a list of “suggested cases” and a CARA generated analysis of those cases.
                Suggested Cases – identifies cases not included in your document, which should be reviewed for relevance before finalizing a brief.  A concise summary includes a citation and the case holding derived from judicial “explanatory parentheticals.” There is a direct link to the full text of the opinion on Casetext. If a lawyer is analyzing an opponen’ts brief – this feature could identify vulnerabilities.
                Most Cited Passage- identifies the most cited text from other opinions.
                Insights provides links related law firm memos discussing the case

CARA results screen
Arredondo emphasized that Casetext understands the security concerns of law firms. Casetext does not retain any brief – extracted data is deleted after CARA delivers a report.
The evolving vocabulary of legal research
New features and functions require their own taxonomy. CARA is delightfully rich in new research concepts. Arredondo  describes the text and citation analysis  as  a citation fingerprint within the document which analyzes how much that case discussed  and assesses “depth of treatment.”
Arredondo described “explanatory parentheticals” as the functional equivalents of case summaries written by Westlaw editors. An explanatory paranthentical is a concise statement of a cited cases holding. The citing judge signals the explanatory parenthetical with words such as “finding that, holding that, concurring that.”CARA is the first system to  leverage  judge generated summaries, which are ubiquitous throughout the common law.  So far Casetext has identified 2.4 million  parenthetical summaries. Arredondo anticipates  that the company will create a searchable database of explanatory parentheticals which he describes as a “celestial treatise footnote.”
Geeks and research nerds like myself can look forward to reading Arredondo’s  article  “Harvesting and Utilzing Explanatory Parentheticals “ 1 LEGAL INFO. REV. 31 (2015-2016) which was just published.
What is the unique value proposition?
According to Arredondo, several ALM 100 litigation powerhouses are already running trials of CARA. CARA is positioned to supplement rather than replace the major research services (Lexis, Westlaw, BloombergBNA). Arredondo sees CARA as enhancing the speed of a final review of a brief by quickly identifying cases that a lawyer may have missed.  CARA will also continue to be enhanced with new features. A jurisdictional filter is expected to be released in the next few weeks.

ThomsonReuters Drafting Assistant will review a brief and  check if citations are valid but it does not explicitly direct a lawyer to cases they may have missed.
Ravel Law's Judge Analytics also provides unique insights into judges precedential behavior  using historical citation trends (Identifying which cases judges tend to cite to when they rule in favor of or against a motion.) While Ravel provides insights driven by judges, CARA provides insights driven by briefs. Ravel can be described as “judge sourcing.” CARA can be described as “brief sourcing” their insights.
Do missed cases really matter? According to Arredondo, when  he recently provided training to  Clerks in the Northern District of California,  they said that in drafting opinions they invariably reference decisions that were absent from both parties briefs.
Free Trial of Cara:
Anyone can setup a free trial at this link:

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