Friday, August 26, 2016

Latest AALL Spectrum Issue Features Compeitive Intelligence, PR, Legal Analytics, Artificial Intlligence and Outsourcing

AALL has released the September/October  issue of Spectrum magazine. Articles of interest to law firm leaders include:

  • Zena Applebaum on 10 Best Practices for Competitive Intelligence;
  • Rand Christianson on managing your PR message;
  • Michael Saint-Onge - Upping Your Swagger
  • Sarah Mauldin and Diane Koppang on Legal Analytics
  • Mark Gediman on Artificial Intelligence
  • Jean O'Grady on 13 management behaviors which increase the risk of outsourcing
Additional articles of interest include an interview with Dean Sonderegger, VP of Wolters Kluwer Legal Markets and Innovation; a profile of incoming AALL President Ron Wheeler and a tech column  recommending 5 cool tools.

You can link to the entire issue here.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Thomson Reuters Contract Express: Document Assembly Made Easy

Last October Thomson Reuters announced the acquisition of a UK based company Business Integrity which had developed a document assembly product called Contract Express. According to the press release the product had already been adopted by an impressive list of Magic Circle" and Am Law 100 firms. The product offers enterprise licenses for large law firms and corporations.  I recently spoke with Andy Wishart, Global Head of Contract Express, to learn about the product and to get an understanding of where it fits in the constellation of Thomson Reuters drafting products. According to Wishart, Contract Express can reduce the time a lawyers spends getting to a first draft by 82%.  Wishart Views Contract Express as a “second generation” product which will lower the barrier of entry for “non-technologist “lawyers.

 Law firms are using the product internally to streamline the production of high volume documents. Several firms are leveraging the product as service for existing and potential clients. Corporations are integrating the product with and provide employees with a self service document portal.  Contract Express can be linked to a firm’s CRM and can integrate with Docusign. 
Contract Express Dictionary Editor
 Document assembly always sounded like an easy solution to me. But apparently many document assembly programs used by lawyers still require technical expertise  to create the templates. This requirement is often a bottleneck which constricts the number of templates a lawyer or practice group can create.
The Contract Express website describes the products advantages:
"Unlike all other document automation products, Contract Express document automation understands lawyers’ “square bracket” legal markup notation. There’s no programming notation, no XML markup, no hidden codes or fields, no questionnaire scripting, no use of proprietary editors, and no need to reapply styles to generated documents. This capability is unique to Contract Express contract automation software and protected by thirteen granted US patents with more pending."

 I am not an expert on document assembly issues and I can't comment on the uniqueness of the features listed above, but I have seen the product and I was pretty impressed. In June, Contract Express 6.0 was released and it offers several impressive new features: Datasheets, Matters, Document Versioning and Contract Express Author.

Datasheets feature enables users to create dynamic views of the transactional information contained in documents created by Contract Express. This advanced feature allows law firms and their clients to gain greater insight into their automated documents, surfacing valuable information such as key dates, non-standard clauses, deal values and more.
Document Versioning Documents created by Contract Express 6.0 are now fully versioned, meaning users can upload and share manually edited documents with internal users and clients.
Matters The matters  feature in Contract Express 6.0 makes it possible to group one or more document templates around a specific legal matter.The relevant answers in the questionnaire are populated in related documents. Its new Workflow Steps feature allows template authors to suggest the next template within a matter and ensuring necessary steps are followed.
Contract Express Author eliminates the need for creating a separate questionnaire, document, and metadata program. After a lawyer marks up their template, Contract Express processes the Word file and automatically generates the questionnaire to guide lawyers and other users through a document.
Contract Express Questionnaire

Contract Express for Client Portals and Marketing
Several law firms are using contract express as a differentiator. Seyfarthlink and Baker Donelson have portals that enable clients to enter to a branded Contract Express website. Clients can create documents in a self-service environment.

Cooley LLP offers a free suite of Contract Express generated documents for start-up companies on its CooleyGo website. SeyfarthShaw offers clients Contract Express generated documents on its SeyfarthLink portal. 

Contract Express Integration with TR Drafting Products. According to Wishart,  future developments will include the integration of Contract Express into two other Thomson Reuters products: Practical Law and Drafting Assistant. In the near future a lawyer will be able to select a document from Practical Law hit a "draft" button  and use that document to create a Contract Express template, which is tailored to the needs of his or her client.

Given the relentless pressure on law firms to streamline workflow and develop innovative client support products, Contract Express is hitting two of the "hot button" issues which always get the attention of law firm leaders.

Thomson Reuters is currently offering free trials of Contract Express.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Practice Innovations: AI, Innovation, Outside Counsel Guidelines, Sustainable KM, CRM Data Quality, New Career Paths

The July issue of Thomson Reuters Practice Innovations, highlights issues facing information professionals. Articles explore the current state of AI, Innovation in practice, Outside Counsel Guidelines,  Sustainable KM, CRM Data Quality and  New Career Paths  for information professionals. The full issue can be accessed here.

The Changing Focus of AI: Classic AI, Artificial Neural Networks and Biological Neural Networks.
by Elaine Egan, Shearman and Sterling,LLP  and Kathy Skinner, Morrison & Foerster, LLP

Thinking Outside the Stacks:  New Career Paths for Information Professionals
By Jean P O'Grady, DLA Piper, US, LLP

Unleash Your Innovators,
Ryan McLead, High Q

Outside Counsel Guidelines: Navigating the Changing Landscape of Client Demands
By Toby Brown, Perkins Coie, LLP

Sustainable KM,
by V Mary Abraham, Above and Beyond KM

Managing the CRM Abyss:Winning the Battle for Data Quality
By Krystyn Sornat, Sornat Consulting

Monday, August 8, 2016

Bloomberg Law: Tax Launches Offering A Portfolio Centric Product Loaded With Workflow Tools

Anyone who has worked with tax lawyers knows that tax lawyers are different. They have a very exacting and demanding expectations for their tax resources. BloombergBNA recognized these high expectations when they undertook the development of a new tax platform.  The tax product  team spent two years and thousands of hours observing exactly how tax lawyers solve tax problems using BloombergBNA's products as well as their competitors' products. The result is a clean and intuitive dashboard offering both core tax resources and secondary materials as well as some totally unique new content and features.

Bloomberg Law Tax is "portfolio centric." BloombergBNA has taken their most prized editorial editorial content and placed them in the center of the new platform. The Tax Management Portfolios are the "granddaddy" of practice guidance tools. Each of the more than 500 portfolios offer deep and practical advice on each narrow portfolio topic. Portfolios now cover federal, state and international as well as trusts and estates.

The portfolios are front and center in the platform design. A lawyer can easily search for a portfolio number or a IRS code section to begin their search. The editors of Bloomberg Law Tax wanted to build a "one-stop-shop" offering everything a tax practitioner could need in one place. Bloomberg Law Tax has all of the core "must have" primary content and extensive secondary analytical and practice material. Content is accessible using a variety of techniques including, keyword search, Boolean, and browsing topics.

Although most attorneys start their research with a  search, Bloomberg BNA has retained features which appeal to fans of portfolios in print. The portfolios can be navigated using an expandable table of contents, so that lawyers can have a "book-like" reading experience.

Cool tools - Let me take a moment to highlight what I regard as the coolest and most unique features of Bloomberg Law Tax. These include:

  • Transactional diagrams illustrate more than 800 complex fact patterns and link to the related portfolio.
  • International tax forms with translation from 70 foreign countries
  • International VAT navigator
  •  A state tax "nexus tool" creates a custom questionnaire that a client can use to determine tax liability in various jurisdictions.
  • Tax treaties includes original language version, and translation. Protocols highlight languages that has changed.
  • Base Erosion Profit Shifting BEPS tracker  - a "hot topic" in international
  • An archive includes full  IRS code versions back to 1913
  • Current codes update as changes occurs and include future effective date.
  • Fast answers - provide answers to common questions with a link to primary source of answer.
  • The citator includes regulatory materials.
  • Custom Chart builders: State comparison charts can we sorted by topic or jurisdiction and provide  answers and summary of relevant law.
  • International chart builders provide comparison of tax rates  across 114 countries.
  • Hot News tool - crawls state agency websites for latest developments which can be filtered by topic and state.
  • Workflow tools include research trails, electronic folders and notepads.

The End of the Line for Print Portfolios? Can Bloomberg Law: Tax convert the diehard print portfolio fans to a digital platform. Those of us who hire filers to comb pages into the portfolios week after week, can only hope that a platform offering digital portfolios which are updated on a daily basis and which offers "one click" access to all underlying caselaw, codes, regs and collateral materials will be a sufficiently compelling alternative to even the staunchest bibliophiles.

Access. Bloomberg Law Tax is available to all current Bloomberg Law subscribers  at no additional cost. It is also available as a stand alone subscription.

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: