Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Another Guide to Case Analysis

I have also posted a guide to case analysis on SSRN:

A More Rigorous Approach to Teaching the Reasoning Portion of Case Analysis: A Key to Developing More Competent Law Students

The unique part of my approach is that I ask students to identify the type(s) of legal reasoning the judge is using--rule-based reasoning, reasoning by analogy, distinguishing cases and arguments, synthesis (inductive reasoning), or policy-based reasoning.   I believe that having students identify the type of reasoning the judge is using makes them read the case more carefully and it helps them develop their legal reasoning skills.  Also, they can't use canned briefs to cheat.  I understand this is very common today, especially with Quimbee.

(Scott Fruehwald

July 31, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

For your students - Professor Orin Kerr's "How to Read a Legal Opinion"

Professor Orin Kerr posts a reminder each each year about this time over at the Volokh Conspiracy re: an essay he authored back in 2007 which many law students (and non-lawyers too) find helpful. It's been downloaded almost 40k times so you know a lot of people have already benefited from it. 

You can download Professor Kerr's essay yourself here; below is the abstract:

How to Read a Legal Opinion: A Guide for New Law Students

This essay is designed to help new law students prepare for the first few weeks of class. It explains what judicial opinions are, how they are structured, and what law students should look for when reading them.


July 31, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 30, 2018

Revised Hidden Sources of Stress book available beginning this week

As most of you probably known, Larry Krieger has written a wonderful booklet on student well-being.

From Larry Krieger:

"I’ve had several inquiries for the law student well-being and career search booklets for August. With the several recent studies and the National Task Force Report, it was time for a major update and I’m happy to say it is finally done. For those who have used the booklets before, the material remains essentially intact, but also has many updates and improvements I believe."

"You can get a good idea of the booklets by viewing the links below.  The first has the cover, table of contents and first few pages; the second has costs and ordering information if interested.  These are the printer’s files, so the cover is front and back; just picture it folded around the contents.

View cover and intro. pages:


View ordering info. and costs:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1UO74yk-4IhQJWK1g0mBpGUTPr-052fXR/view?usp=sharing

If you would like to see the full contents, please email me ([email protected]) and I will arrange.  You will need a gmail account to view the full contents, so if you don’t have one you may want to take the couple of minutes at google.com or gmail.com to set that up before emailing me for this purpose. 

Timing is also a question, if you decide to use this material, and especially for entering 1L’s.  Orientation is handy but also presents some problems because of all the other information they are getting and other good reasons that I’ve outlined at the link below.  Given the new research and creation/printing of this revised version, timing may be tight this year to get the books by orientation at some schools, but there are other good options described in the link also.  I expect the books to be printed and available to me by the end of this week (August 3 or so).   For timing suggestions:


(Scott Fruehwald)

July 30, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Human Rights and Wrongs: Biological Skepticism Towards Human Rights by Ammar Younas

Here is an interesting article on the basis of human rights:

Human Rights and Wrongs: Biological Skepticism Towards Human Rights by Ammar Younas.

"This thesis is an attempt to provide an adequate theoretical framework to understand the biological basis of human rights. We argue that the skepticism about human rights is increasing especially among the most rational, innovative and productive community of intellectuals belonging to the applied sciences. By using examples of embryonic stem cell research, humanoid robotics and artificial intelligence, a clash between applied scientists and legal scientists cum human rights activists has been highlighted. International human rights regimes notably UN bodies are writing declaration after declaration related to issues purely of biological nature such as bioethics, human genome, genetic engineering and human cloning. Because of these declarations, applied scientists fed up of human rights and can justifiably reject them as a whole considering them alien to scientific culture and hence saying that they are unable to find local normative validity of human rights inside the scientific community. After an extensive literature review, this thesis concludes that advances in applied sciences proven by empirical evidences should not be restricted by normative theories and philosophies of the social scientists who often take part in drafting of the legal documents such as UN Declarations. Whereas biology can provide a framework of cooperation for social and applied scientists."

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 29, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Arizona Summit Law School in talks with Arizona State to take students if school loses accreditation

As reported back in June, the ABA notified InfiLaw's (i.e. for profit) Arizona Summit Law School that it was revoking its accreditation (ASLS recently filed an appeal of the that decision which is now pending).  Now the same website that broke that story, AZcentral.com,  is also reporting that ASLS is currently in talks with Arizona State University School of Law to potentially arrange for the transfer of students and credits should Arizona Summit ultimately lose its appeal (a so-called "teach-out" plan). The ABA is expected to rule on the appeal by mid-October. Here are more details from Azcentral.com:

Arizona Summit Law School in talks with ASU to take students if school loses accreditation


Arizona Summit Law School officials are in talks with Arizona State University to let their students complete their education at the state university if the private school loses its accreditation. 


School officials said they filed an appeal July 18 with the American Bar Association after the national accrediting body for law schools notified Arizona Summit in June of plans to revoke the school's accreditation.


If the appeal fails and the school closes, they said they are laying the groundwork to ensure students finish at an ABA-accredited law school.


"We’ve had some very productive meetings" with ASU, said the school's interim dean, Penny Willrich.


She spoke during a meeting Thursday to provide an update on the school's status to the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education, the licensing body for for-profit schools. 


The school's new president, Peter Goplerud, told the board it's possible Arizona Summit and ASU can reach an agreement, in principle or on paper, within a week to 10 days. 

. . . .

In a statement, ASU's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law said school officials have been approached to help the law school potentially assist in a teach-out plan. 

"The proposed teach out plan will help students finish their credit hours to graduate and complete their degree at Arizona Summit. We are currently in discussions but nothing has been finalized."

 . . . . 

Continue reading here.


July 29, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 27, 2018

It's "formative assessment" Friday!

The University of Detroit Mercy School of Law has just published a special issue containing several articles on formative assessments in law school (which dovetails nicely with my co-blogger Scott's post on learning outcomes and assessments from a few days ago on ).  It's the Fall 2017 issue available at 95 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. which can be found online here.  Below is the index of articles along with links to SSRN, where available. I've already had a chance to read Sue Liemer's article about "embodied cognition" which is an important topic that seems to be largely absent from the scholarship on law school teaching. You should check it out along with the other articles below.

The Impact of Formative Assessment: Emphasizing Outcome Measures in Legal Education, 95 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 1-114 (2017)

Renee Nicole Allen & Alicia R. Jackson, Contemporary Teaching Strategies: Effectively Engaging Millennials Across the Curriculum, 95 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 1 (2017)

Karen McDonald Henning & Julia Belian, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie: Increasing Assessments and Individualized Feedback in Law School Classes, 95 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 35 (2017). 

Susan P. Liemer, Embodied Legal Education: Incorporating Another Part of Bloom's Taxonomy, 95 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 69 (2017)

Sandra L. Simpson, Coordinating Formative Assessment Across the Curriculum: A View From the Associate Dean's Desk, 95 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 91 (2017).

July 27, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Get published! "Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing" is looking for articles

Perspectives is sponsored and distributed free of charge by Thomson Reuters to a subscriber base of 4000+ readers. The current issue was just published (here) and we're now looking for new articles for our next issue which is planned for publication in late fall. 

Perspectives is a journal for everyone interested in teaching legal research and legal writing, including:

  • law librarians and law professors, including adjuncts;
  • attorneys who help associates or interns develop as researchers and writers; and
  • writing specialists at law schools, law firms, courts, and other legal institutions.

In two electronic publications appear year (fall and spring), Perspectives articles explore a broad array of teaching theories, techniques, and tools. Articles are both short—typically between 1,500 and 7,000 words and lightly footnoted. They are highly readable and typically focus on curricular design, goals, teaching methods, and assessments, for example how to:

  • comment rigorously and encouragingly on student writing;
  • efficiently research;
  • collaborate in teaching;
  • design, create, and manage online teaching modules;
  • teach using insights from other disciplines;
  • use technology to enhance learning; and
  • engage today's law students, interns, and associates.

To find out more about submitting a manuscript for consideration and author's guidelines, click here.


July 25, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Symposium on Law Student Learning Outcomes And Assessment

Measuring law student outcomes has recently become an important part of legal education.  The Journal of Legal Education has just published a symposium on outcomes:

Symposium: Law Student Learning Outcomes And Assessment, 67 J. Legal Educ. 373-614 (2018).

 From the Editors:

"A quiet revolution is taking place in legal education. For close to a century, law schools used the bar exam as the principal method of testing whether students were graduating with the knowledge they needed to practice law. But in 2014, new ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools (“ABA Standards”) were adopted and implemented in time for accreditation visits occurring in 2016-2017. These revised accreditation standards require law schools to develop programmatic student learning outcomes as well as methods to assess those outcomes. (ABA Standards 301, 302, 314, and 315 — see appendix I). These new requirements are sparking some of the most significant, systemic changes to law school pedagogy that we have seen in many years.

The assessment standards stem from a broader movement in higher education from a traditional, input-based, prescriptive system of accreditation (focusing on budget, facilities, academic metrics of incoming students and the number of faculty) to an outcome-based system of accreditation. The ABA has also embraced a shift from historic output measurements, such as bar passage or job placement, to a focus on student learning outcomes and the assessments of such student learning outcomes. Law schools faced with these new standards must quickly familiarize themselves with best practices in designing student learning outcomes and assessments, and ideally schools will use this opportunity to modify and improve their programs. With such changes underfoot, the JLE devotes this issue to the new ABA Standards on assessments — on formative and summative assessment to be employed by individual faculty members as well as practices and requirements governing institutional assessment."

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 25, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 23, 2018

UCLA creates new certificate program in environmental law

Through a combination of coursework and clinics, UCLA law students can now graduate with a speciality certificate in environmental law. The UCLA Newsroom blog has more details:

UCLA School of Law offers new specialization in environmental law

Students pursuing environmental law at UCLA benefit from clinical programs and scholarships


aw students at UCLA are now able to receive a specialization in environmental law, a recognition upon graduation that they have completed a rigorous course of study in a broad range of subjects related to environmental law and policy.


“This new specialization formalizes what has already been a robust and extensive training program for future lawyers seeking to work on environmental issues,” said Sean Hecht, co-executive director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and UCLA Law’s Evan Frankel Professor of Policy and Practice. “Students here have always had access to our stellar faculty, courses and guidance, and the specialization offers formal acknowledgement of their commitment to training in environmental law.”


To earn the certificate, students must complete five courses in environmental law and produce a supervised research paper. Externships and clinical courses count toward the certificate. Students who fulfill the requirements receive notations on their diplomas and transcripts reflecting that they completed the specialization.


UCLA Law’s environmental programs have grown dramatically in the last decade. In 2008, UCLA Law launched the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, now the country’s leading law center on environmental issues including climate change policy, federal regulation, state policy, urban sustainability, chemical safety, land use, climate engineering and more.


Students pursuing environmental law at UCLA also benefit from clinical programs, scholarships and opportunities for student leadership. 

. . . . 

Continue reading here.


July 23, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Please nominate and vote for the Legal Skills Prof Blog for the ABA's Web 100

We've been at this for eight (long) years but so far haven't received the oh so coveted ABA Blawg 100 Award (which is going to be tougher to pull off this year because it's now the Web 100 (Amici) which means we're competing against all manner of law related web-based media - but that's OK, we're a tough bunch too).  The deadline for nominations is August 7.

We'd dearly appreciate it if one (or more) of our loyal readers would nominate us for the ABA's 2018 Web 100 (because you can't win unless you're nominated and we're far too modest to nominate ourselves - aside from the fact that it's against the rules).  I just checked the fine print in the social contract I signed long ago and it confirms that since we've been flogging your stuff for the past eight years (articles, announcements, job postings, etc., etc.), it's time for you to flog ours! 

The handy-dandy Law Prof Network visitor counter says we've had over 3.1 million hits since we started this endeavor.  At least one of you must care, right?  Please nominate us here.  For your convenience, the nominating info is also below:

Help us find best of the legal web--written, spoken or coded

Submit your Web 100 Amici and make your best case for recognition in 2018. Here are some guidelines:

Law Blogs
  • Authors are instantly recognizable as being in the legal field or studying law in the vast majority of their posts.
  • Their insights into the practice of law would be of interest to legal professionals or law students.
  • Most content is unique and not cross-posted or lifted from other publications.
  • The podcaster and guests give insight into the law, legal service or legal practice.
  • Episodes are well-crafted, produced on a regular schedule and not primarily promotional.
Social Media
  • The creator has a sizable presence on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
  • Their analysis, breaking news or viewpoints are succinctly stated, with or without character limits.
  • Their content makes you laugh, think or both.
Web Tools
  • The service is easy to use, whether designed for mobile device, tablet or desktop.
  • Features are innovative or best in breed, with significant adoption rates.
  • The results are useful, accurate and impactful.

Whether in plain English, legalese or Python, there’s a place for your favorites. Please send your nominations by 11:59 p.m. CT Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018.

(The Legal Skills Prof Blog).

July 23, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law's Enterprise: Argumentation Schemes & Legal Analogy by Brian Larson

Here is an important article on legal reaso0ning.

Law's Enterprise: Argumentation Schemes & Legal Analogy by Brian Larson.

"Reasoning by legal analogy has been described as mystical, reframed by skeptics using the deductive syllogism, and called “no kind of reasoning at all” by Judge Posner. Entries in the debate over the last 25 years by Sunstein, Schauer, Brewer, Weinreb, and others leave us at an aporia about how to view it. The skeptics are too focused on the rational force offered by the deductive syllogism when they should attend to the kinds of arguments that can provide premises for deduction — exactly the work that legal analogy does. The mystics on the other hand expect us to accept legal analogy without an account of how to discipline it — an account of the conventions that make it acceptable to lawyers and judges. Argument by legal analogy happens every day, lawyers need to know how to construct and critique such arguments, and law schools also need to know how to teach these skills to law students. This article provides a normative and productive theory for creating and evaluating arguments by legal analogy. Using the argumentation schemes and critical questions of informal logic, it constructs a theory grounded in philosophy but kitted out for action. Not skeptic or mystic, it is dynamic.?

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 23, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Thought of the Day: Educate Your Reader

The most important thing I tell my legal writing students is that they should educate (teach) the judge on the law and the facts of the case. Helping the judge (or other reader or listener) understand the case is the most effective type of persuasion.

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 22, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 20, 2018

The evils of rubrics - a new article by Professor Debbie Borman called "De-grading Assessment: Rejecting Rubrics in Favor of Authentic Analysis"

Let me confess my own bias against the use (or overuse) of rubrics in law school. Yes, I've used them in the past too but very rarely anymore because I've come to believe they're the devil's work.  I can't blame profs for trying to make their expectations about graded assignments as clear as possible in order to help students. It's our job (sort of).  On the other hand, when it comes to preparing students for the intellectual challenges of law practice, clarity is way overrated.  In our efforts to be clear, we're also sending a counterproductive message that the sophisticated, nuanced skills needed to produce a high quality piece of analytical writing can reduced to a convenient, handy-dandy, easy to digest formula.  Instead of a reductionist approach, we should be asking students to spend even more time and effort trying to sort out what makes a memo good. They likely won't be too happy with us about that, but their future clients may thank us. 

Anyway, enough of my rant . . . . Go read Professor Debbie Borman's great article called De-grading Assessment: Rejecting Rubrics in Favor of Authentic Analysis, 41 Seattle U. L. Rev. 713 (2018), yourself. Here's the abstract:

Assigning grades is the least joyful duty of the law professor. In the current climate of legal education, law professors struggle with issues such as increased class size, providing “practice-ready” graduates, streamlining assignments, and accountability in assessment. In an effort to ease the burden of grading written legal analyses, individual professors or law school writing programs or both may develop articulated rubrics to assess students’ written work. Rubrics are classification tools that allow us to articulate our judgment of a written work. Rubrics may be as extensive as twenty categories and subcategories or may be limited to only a few criteria. By definition, rubrics require the development of rigid, standardized criteria that the student must fulfill to earn a certain number of points. Points earned in each section of the rubric are totaled to form the basis for the student’s grade. In assessing legal analyses according to a standardized rubric, however, many subtleties of structure or content and much of the creativity of legal writing is lost or unrewarded or both. Using a rubric to assess legal analytical writing may result in the exact opposite of the intended result: an excellent and creatively written persuasive brief or legal analytical argument may “fail” the rubric and earn a lower overall grade, while a legal analysis that fulfills the exacting criteria of the rubric may earn a top grade despite lacking the intangible aspects of excellent persuasive writing. Good writing does not result when locked into the matrix of a rubric. Rubrics may impair writing and result in bad legal analytical writing. Rubrics replace the authentic, holistic analysis of writing and reasoning with inauthentic pigeonholing that “stamps standardization” onto a creative and analytical, that is, nonstandard, process. A holistic approach to grading and evaluating legal analytical writing, including engaging in authentic conversations about writing, leads to more comprehensible written work product and ultimately better lawyering.


July 20, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Where the Buffalo roam

To our loyal readers - the Legal Skills Prof Blog may be a bit less active over the next week while Scott is left to hold down the fort all by his lonesome (we really miss Lou and hope he's doing great).  I'm off to Big Sky country (until next Friday) where the Buffalo roam, but the wifi don't work worth a damn. Please be patient - we'll be back up to our usual hyperkinetic blogging activity by week after next.  

In the meantime, please don't stop sending those cards, letters, and (most importantly) tips! I promise to respond (and/or blog it) when I return.

"Oro y Plata!"


July 19, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Economic Problems of Law Schools in a Nutshell

Forbes has an article on the financial problems at Vermont Law School.  Forbes, When the Numbers Don't Add Up: Vermont Law School's Tenured Faculty Purge and What It Portends

Here is the key paragraph:

"The sad story for Vermont Law students—and thousands of others around the country—was not always this way. Net of adjustment for inflation, law students today pay 2.71 times what their predecessors did three decades ago. The job market was more promising then, too--in part because there was not a glut of lawyers and clients tacitly accepted funding on-the- job training for baby lawyers. Nor was there widespread consumer sentiment—prevalent today—that law schools do not train students for what the marketplace demands."

Does anyone remember studying the tragedy of the commons in law school?

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 19, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Seeking "micro-essays" on role of artificial intelligence in legal research and writing classroom

Here's a chance to get published in Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing. The editorial board is seeking micro-essays on the topic of incorporating Artificial Intelligence technology into the classroom. Micro-essays are a great way to join the conversation about emerging issues in classroom pedagogy while picking up a publication credit in the process. 

Here are more details about submitting a micro-essay for the next issue of Perspectives due out in late fall:

In addition to always seeking full length articles for Perspectives, we're also specifically looking for shorter submissions for the next in our series of micro essays (examples). We want to hear what you (professors, adjuncts, law librarians, judges, law clerks, students or attorneys) have to say about our next micro essay prompt in 100 words or less: "Will Artificial Intelligence (AI) change how or what we teach in LRW classes? What do you anticipate the impact of AI will be on teaching or learning?” We welcome multiple submissions and will publish the best selections in our Fall issue. Be honest; be creative; let us know what these words provoke or inspire! Submit your micro essay by October 1 to EIC James B. Levy at [email protected] or Board Members Katy Mercer at [email protected] or Helene Shapo at [email protected].  


For the current issue of Perspectives, archive, Author’s Guide, and other details, please go to: legalsolutions.com/perspectives.



July 18, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Planning Your Class to Take Advantage of Highly Effective Learning Techniques by James McGrath

A good summary of new learning techniques.

Planning Your Class to Take Advantage of Highly Effective Learning Techniques by James McGrath.

"What are the most highly effective learning techniques? Take a moment and consider what you think they are. Write them down if it is convenient. The symposium that is the subject of this law review volume examines the impact of formative assessment. In this article, I will connect formative assessment possibilities with ideas on how to take advantage of some of the proven highly effective learning techniques. The road there is a bit tortuous, but it is my hope that even the most well-informed teacher will find something that they can add to their quiver of techniques to help with her efforts of continually improve her teaching."

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 18, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Embodied Legal Education: Incorporating Another Part of Bloom's Taxonomy by Sue Liemer

Is there more to Bloom's Taxonomy?

Embodied Legal Education: Incorporating Another Part of Bloom's Taxonomy by Sue Liemer.

"Frequently overlooked in legal education is the psychomotor domain of Bloom’s taxonomy. The learning objectives in this domain concern the learning of the body, physical education in the broadest sense of the term. In legal education, psychomotor learning objectives can help law students learn how their bodies support their mental work, how their bodies communicate, and how other people’s bodies are communicating to them. This article explores the reasons why law professors should consider including in their lesson plans some learning objectives within the psychomotor domain and how they might do so."

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 17, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 16, 2018

The new issue of "Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing" is out now!

Take a break from your (totally justified) Trump "freak-out" and peruse the latest issue of Perspectives: Teaching Legal Writing and Research out now and edited by yours truly (I know what you're thinking: "How is it possible for one man to be so fabuloso?  So much talent! So much energy!  Incroyable!). 

In this issue you'll learn, among other things: What, exactly, is "Ally Theater?" How will Artificial Intelligence change the LRW classroom? Advice for increasing professionalism among students. Tips for improving students legal research skills when it comes to real world practice.  How to use films and TV to teach students persuasive fact techniques. All that and more - including our fantastico micro essays that answer the burning question: "What is your desert island database?"  Just click on the links below and you will be instantly transported to a sublime reading and learning experience!


Teaching Legal Research and Writing

Vol. 26, No. 1
Spring 2018
Perspectives - Teaching Legal Research and Writing

Download Complete Issue
(PDF – 17.3MB)

In This Issue
All articles copyrighted by Thomson Reuters, except where otherwise expressly indicated. Except as otherwise expressly provided, the author of each article in this issue has granted permission for copies of that article to be made for educational use, provided that (1) copies are distributed at or below cost, (2) author and journal are identified, (3) proper notice of copyright is affixed to each copy, and (4) the editor of Perspectives is notified of the use. For articles in which it holds copyright, Thomson Reuters grants permission for copies to be made for educational use under the same conditions.

Avoiding "Ally Theater" in Legal Writing Assignments
(PDF document 233KB)
Emily A. Bishop

A-I is a G-O
(PDF document 138KB)
Dyane O'Leary

The Fact of the Matter
(PDF document 158KB)
Kimberly Y. W. Holst

Download Complete Issue (PDF – 16.1MB)



July 16, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Westlaw unveils new legal research tool incorporating Artificial Intelligence capabilities

It's called Westlaw Edge. I haven't test-driven it or even seen it yet so for right now I have to rely on TR's press release for an explanation about what it can do. Based on that, however, it's not clear to me that Westlaw Edge is something we'll be be introducing in 1L LRW where we're teaching students the very basics of Boolean searches.  Westlaw Edge appears to be a much more sophisticated tool aimed at practitioners and students in advanced legal research courses.  Here's the press release from TR so you can decide for yourself whether you'll be incorporating this new AI research tool into class this fall: 

Thomson Reuters Unveils New Legal Research Platform with Advanced AI: Westlaw Edge

Powerful artificial intelligence – built upon more than 100 years of editorial enhancements – drives search and next-gen analytics, bringing speed, insight and confidence


MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL, July 12, 2018 – Thomson Reuters today introduced Westlaw Edgethe latest advancement in legal research, providing legal professionals with the next generation of AI-driven legal search, exclusive new warnings for law that is no longer valid, unrivaled litigation analytics, and sophisticated new research tools that help legal professionals deliver results to clients faster and more accurately.


Law firms today are competing with each other to provide high-quality results at a lower cost to meet client expectations for efficiency. In Thomson Reuters ongoing research with customers, its analysis shows that complex legal research tasks take an average of six hours, with some taking much longer. Lawyers also report that with deadline-driven work, they often worry they may have missed something important. “We’ve been working with hundreds of attorneys to deeply understand how some research tasks can still take many hours to complete, as well as how mistakes are made, even by experienced lawyers,” said Mike Dahn, senior vice president, Westlaw Product Management.  


“We brought together a team of Thomson Reuters research scientists with expertise in AI and legal data with our attorneys who best understand our exclusive collection of law summaries, legal classifications and legal citation relationships, and had them work with our most talented product designers to address the areas where both new lawyers and experienced practitioners want better tools,” added Dahn. “The result is Westlaw Edge.”


Introducing Westlaw Edge


Westlaw Edge, the new version of Westlaw, enables lawyers to move through routine work much faster and helps even experienced practitioners avoid mistakes when working on something complex, while offering attorneys new insights they’ve never had access to before. Westlaw Edge represents Thomson Reuters largest investment in AI since 2010 and was developed with attorneys and technologists at the Thomson Reuters Center for Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computing in Toronto working side by side. In this way, state-of-the-art AI technologies could be specifically tuned to attorney-authored content and powerful legal research tools, including the West Key Number System and KeyCite.


The new research capabilities of Westlaw Edge include:


-   Exclusive Warnings for Invalid or Questionable Law. Modern citators that put warnings on overturned or invalidated cases are essential for research, since checking the validity of cases can take hours longer without them. But a major limitation of these citators is that they have almost exclusively addressed explicit citing relationships only, where one court overrules or invalidates the law in a prior case. 

Based on sophisticated machine learning and natural language processing techniques, the new KeyCite Overruling Risk symbols in Westlaw Edge warn researchers of cases that have been invalidated implicitly, and the new symbols link researchers to the up-to-date law that contains the invalidating language.


-   WestSearch Plus is a next-generation legal search engine that uses state-of-the-art AI to guide lawyers to answers to legal questions much faster. The first of its kind, WestSearch Plus uses machine learning, natural language processing, citation networks, and Thomson Reuters proprietary taxonomy of the law – the West Key Number System – to bring back the relevant documents researchers are seeking, and it also provides answers to thousands of types of legal questions in seconds.


-   Integrated Litigation Analytics enable legal professionals to quickly view relevant insights on judges, courts, attorneys and law firms to help guide the best trial strategy; inform litigation timelines, resource needs and budgets; and allow for faster, more sophisticated legal research. No other legal analytics tool has as much data or as many practice areas across both state and federal courts. Litigation Analytics covers dockets for every federal case type, except bankruptcy, and it includes almost 8 million federal cases and motion analytics for 13 types of federal motions, as well as expert challenge reports.


-   Statutes Compare enables researchers to see all statutory language changes with just a click of a button, and it is available for both federal and state statutes. The tool can be used to understand legislative intent for litigation or to advise clients how their business operations might need to change based on revisions in the statutes.


Multiple Am Law 100 firms, including Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, Shearman & Sterling and Locke Lord, have already started using Westlaw Edge. According to Wendy Butler Curtis, Orrick’s chief innovation officer, “As part of our innovation strategy, we are continually looking at new ways to streamline processes, adopt technologies and empower our teams. Westlaw Edge is an important part of our innovation toolkit.”


Artificial Intelligence


Thomson Reuters has used AI and machine learning-based tools in products for more than 25 years to solve specific problems for lawyers. According to Khalid Al-Kofahi, vice president of Research & Development and head of its Center for Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computing, Thomson Reuters AI relies on three key ingredients: content, subject matter expertise and technology expertise. “Content is key. It is what customers come to us for in the first place, and it is what we use to train our algorithms. In the case of our attorney-authored editorial enhancements, it’s the most valuable metadata to help us design algorithms that mimic legal researchers,” said Al-Kofahi. “Our subject matter experts – both attorneys and scientists – ensure that we design optimal solutions to the right set of problems.”


On top of the natural patterns that appear in the law, Thomson Reuters attorney editors have integrated advanced editorial analysis and other enhancements. “By tuning our AI to the West Key Number System, citation networks and other attorney-authored content, our legal and technology experts have created something that no other legal research provider relying on AI and raw data alone could ever make, allowing machines to connect related information and documents to find answers even when search terms don’t match the language used in the original court document,” added Al-Kofahi.


“Westlaw Edge is full of breathtaking science, and the AI and machine learning components build perfectly upon our previous innovations and exclusive legal expertise,” added Dahn. “With Westlaw Edge, legal professionals can conduct legal research more quickly than ever before and uncover valuable new insights, giving them greater confidence when filing court documents or advising clients.”


For more information about Westlaw Edge, visit WestlawEdge.com.  



July 15, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)