Friday, June 9, 2017

LexisNexis Acquires Ravel Law: A Tipping Point for Legal Analytics and the Second Wave of Legal KM


Back in March I reported on a rumor that Ravel Law would be acquired by LexisNexis. Today LexisNexis and Ravel announced that Ravel Law is in fact being acquired by LexisNexis. Ravel Law was developed by Stamford Law grads Daniel Lewis and Nik Reed and offered a research platform which radically altered the way research results were delivered and displayed. They later offered a series of innovative analytics tools which provide insights into judicial precedential behavior, courts, motions and law firm litigation trends. Since Lexis acquired another legal analytics company, Lex Machina in November 2015, I was curious to learn why LexisNexis decided to acquire another product offering legal analytics. Today I posed some questions to Ravel Law co-founder Daniel Lewis and LexisNexis VP of product management, Jeff Pfeifer.

I tried to pin down Pfeifer and Lewis on the future of the Ravel Law product in the low cost legal research market. Pfeifer responded by confirming that Lexis Nexis would keep Ravel’s commitment to provide public access to the Harvard Caselaw archive on the Ravel Law platform. The press release however refers to Lexis integrating Ravel technology and designating content as "powered by Ravel Law."

 What's Next? The press release specifically indicates that Ravel content/ and or technology will be integrated into these Lexis Analytics products:

o   LexisNexis MedMal Navigator

o   LexisNexis Verdict & Settlement Analyzer

o   Intelligize

o   Lex Machina

o   Lexis Litigation Profile Suite

Ravel Law’s data visualization tool and access to Harvard case law PDF images will enrich Lexis Advance.

Retaining the Ravel Team Lewis and Reed the co-founders of Ravel have both been offered senior positions at Lexis Nexis and will report to Pfeifer.They will focus on creating new solutions for the legal market.

Ravel will remain in its current San Francisco location in order to retain their existing team which includes lawyers, data scientists and design experts. This will also enable them to, leverage the Silicon Valley talent pool. According to Lewis the acquisition should not be viewed as "Ravel having reached a finish line." To the contrary, he sees the Lexis acquisition as allowing the impact of the Ravel technology to reach millions of lawyers through a larger platform.

According to Pfeifer, Lexis has made $1 billion investment in re-architect the Lexis Advance platform and Lexis content. They will integrate Ravel’s machine learning technologies while also developing new machine learning and AI applications.

When will the analytics tipping point occur?
I estimate that in five years legal analytics will become a core competency demanded by state bar associations - similar to the recent adoption of standards for technology competence in many states.


Lewis believes that introducing analytics in a more familiar application such as LexisAdvance  will probably accelerate lawyers’ understanding and embrace of analytics as a critical practice tool. Lewis hopes that the Lexis/Ravel integration  will create a platform in which analytics will simply evolve into an intuitive dimension of case law research.

Driving the Second Wave of Knowledge Management

According to Pfeifer, Lexis is rapidly moving towards leveraging content from Intelligize (which was previously acquired) to deploy analytics and language analysis on firm data for transactional documents.  He sees a similar opportunity for leveraging the Ravel technology as well as other technology that Lexis is developing in house. Pfeiffer suggest that the legal market is about to witness a second wave of knowledge management. Lexis is in the process of creating tools which will enhance internal law firm data with machine learning tools which will  enhance the documents and extract firm data and analytics which can be combined with external data and analytics. All three of  Lexis recent acquisitions: Intelligize, Lex Machina and Ravel support a Lexus Nexis vision to enrich data  and drive access to data analytics conclusions.

The Ravel Legacy. In the press release Lewis cited  the Harvard  Law School alliance  which provides open access to all US caselaw:  “we’ve digitized American law – a contribution to society that will outlive all of us."

Thoughts on Market Impact Fastcase is the company which competed most directly with Ravel in offering a sophisticated research product to firms in search of a lower cost alternative to Lexis, Westlaw and Bloomberg Law. I asked Ed Walters the CEO of Fastcase if he had any thoughts to share on the Lexis/Ravel deal: “ I can definitely see the fit. LexisNexis has been seeking an injection of entrepreneurship – Intelligize, LexMachina, and now Ravel – and Ravel gets to use the giant sandbox of data in LexisNexis.  It’s a validation of the importance of analytics in the next wave of legal research.”

Bloomberg Law was the first of the major legal vendors to integrate comprehensive federal caselaw analytics for all types of litigation into their legal research desktop. (By contrast Lex Machina data is exposed in Lexis Advance for IP, Securities and Antitrust cases only.) In addition Bloomberg has added Compliance  Rick Benchmarks and a Business Intelligence Center to their platform.

ThomsonReuters brought the first legal analytics product into the market over ten years ago. The Thomson Reuters Intelligence Center remains a stand alone product which is used primarily by marketing and research teams in law firms. I reached out to Thomson Reuters today to determine if they are preparing to launch a legal analytics product which is integrated into the lawyers desktop in order to compete more directly with LexisNexis and Bloomberg Law offerings.   TR had no comment on their specific plans regarding analytics.

Here is the letter that Ravel sent to their customers:

 Dear Ravel Law Customer:

We are pleased to share that today LexisNexis announced its acquisition of Ravel Law, further extending our unparalleled capabilities in the analytics space.  This exciting acquisition strengthens the LexisNexis position as the leader in legal analytics by expanding  the LexisNexis Legal Analytics suite of products through full integration of Ravel judicial analytics, data visualization technology and exclusive case law PDF content from the Harvard Law Library into Lexis Litigation Profile Suite® and Lexis Advance®.

As a Ravel Law customer, I’d like to share a few details of how this acquisition will benefit you.


·       New and powerful capabilities in one platform. Combining the resources of LexisNexis and Ravel Law will allow us to bring new innovations and additional content to Ravel customers. 

o   In early 2018, LexisNexis will integrate content and capabilities from Ravel Law with Lexis Advance, delivering new insights around judicial behavior that complement the product’s current expert witness intelligence. 

o   Ravel Law’s data visualization tool and access to Harvard case law PDF images will enrich the already expansive case law collection available on Lexis Advance. 


·        Opportunity for unprecedented Insights.  The new expansive suite of analytics tools will provide unique opportunities for insight into judges and parties to cases.  Lex Machina provides Legal Analytics about the behavior of judges, law firms, lawyers and parties, enabling lawyers to craft successful trial strategies, win cases and close business. Lexis Litigation Profile Suite, enhanced by Ravel Law technology, will complement this offering by providing insight into arguments that are likely to be persuasive to a judge. When combined with the behavior analysis from Lex Machina, litigators have the ability to build judge-specific arguments for use in court.


·       No changes to your current subscription. For the immediate future, there are no changes to your Ravel Law subscription. You will continue to be billed and access the product as you always have.


As we move forward to leverage the many exciting opportunities this acquisition offers to our customers, we will make sure to share the details with you.  For any additional questions, please contact your local Ravel Law representative.

Sincerely,

Sean Fitzpatrick                                                                                Daniel Lewis

Managing Director                                                                           Chief Executive Officer

North American Research Solutions                                             Ravel Law

LexisNexis                                                                                          

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