Appellate Advocacy Blog

Editor: Tessa L. Dysart
The University of Arizona
James E. Rogers College of Law

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Artificial Intelligence for the Brief Writer

 

Robot Until recently, whenever someone referenced artificial intelligence (AI), I imagined super robots taking over earth. I did not have a clear idea of what AI is or how it affects law practice. According to a report written by Daniel West for the Brookings Institute, AI is a machine that thinks and responds “to stimulation consistent with traditional responses from humans, given the human capacity for contemplation, judgment, and intention[.]” AI “software systems ‘make decisions which normally require [a] human level of expertise’ and help people anticipate problems or deal with issues as they come up.” Automated machines complete tasks as they are programmed to do, but they do not get any “smarter.” AI machines complete tasks, but they also “learn” how to perform better for next time.

 

Duquesne University School of Law recently hosted various scholars from across the country to discuss artificial intelligence’s impact on law practice.  At Duquesne’s conference, I learned how AI helps attorneys practice more efficiently and effectively.  Below are some AI tools for appellate practice.  If you have experience using these systems, let me know what you think.  Leave a comment or email me at alsholtis@widener.edu.

ANALYTICS

Before AI analytics, an attorney would ask another attorney about a particular judge or a strategy for a certain type of case.  Now, this information is available with the click of a button. Several legal research search engines offer tools to assist attorneys identify persuasive authorities and arguments. 

Litigation Analytics by Westlaw Edge

With Litigation Analytics within Westlaw Edge, you can search for how cases similar to your case were resolved and the investment involved in managing the case.  You gain access to the documents filed in similar matters to help you identify successful arguments and counter-arguments.  You can obtain information about a particular judge, her background, how she has ruled on cases similar to yours, and the authority she has cited in her opinions.  I have access to Westlaw Edge and Litigation Analytics through my law school’s subscription, so I do not have information on pricing.

Clerk by Judicata

Clerk by Judicata offers data similar to Litigation Analytics.  Rather than search a case type or judge like you do with Westlaw, you upload your brief. The software analyzes the authority you cited, reviews your quotations and citations for accuracy, and compares your case to similar types of cases.  It sends you an analytic report and suggests action items to help improve your brief.   Judicata covers California right now but intends to expand to other states.  You can request a free trial.  Pricing information is not available on its website.

EDITING

WordRake

WordRake is like a spell/grammar check, except it is designed for lawyers by lawyer Gary Kinder.   According to its website, WordRake “tightens, tones, and clarifies your writing.”  This would be a great tool for quickly cutting down your briefs in response to the shrinking word-limits imposed by the federal courts.

After installing the software, it operates as a function on the toolbar within Microsoft Word.  You “rake” your document for clutter and it provides line-by-line editing suggestions.  The red-line edits look similar to editing suggestions done with the track-changes function.  You then accept or reject the suggested edits.  Click here for a short video demonstration.  You can try WordRake for a free, seven-day trial.  Yearly subscriptions are available for about $130.  You can pay more to add WordRake to Outlook.

Brief Catch

Imagine you could have your brief edited by Ross Guberman, author of Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation's Top Advocates. You can if you subscribe to Brief Catch. One user described Brief Catch as “Word’s editing tool on steroids: It imbues the word processor with the wisdom of Point Made[.]”  It operates similarly to WordRake as a plug-in within Microsoft Word.  You run the review of your brief and the software provides grammar and writing suggestions that you can ignore or accept.  It also provides you with several scores and indices to help you get a sense of your overall writing proficiency and inspire you to improve with each use.  Brief Catch tells you your “Reading Happiness Score,” “Sentence Length Index,” Flow Index,” “Punchiness Score,” and “Plain English Index.”  Watch a short video demonstration by clicking here.  Brief Catch is only available only for Microsoft Word on PCs.  You can try it for free for two weeks.  An annual subscription is $240.

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