Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Casetext's CARA Launches New "Brief Finder" Feature

Only weeks after receiving the prestigious 2017 New Product Award from the American Association of Law Libraries, CARA is announcing today the release of a new "Brief Finder" feature.

Casetext's CARA (Case Analysis Research Assistant) launched with the promise of helping lawyers find the most relevant caselaw.  Last August I reviewed CARA in a post: Citation Fingerprint, Celestial Footnotes and Opinion Sourcing: Casetext Launches CARA.

 According to press release, the Brief Finder promises to surface the most relevant legal briefs filed in federal courts "by the county's best law firms... With no extra work, litigators gain unprecedented visibility into how world-class attorneys have argued the same issues they are working on, giving CARA users an extraordinary competitive edge."

Jake Heller, founder and CEO of Casetext  notes that “Every lawyer knows that the best way to find good arguments is to look to your peers — other great attorneys who have taken on the same issues and researched them thoroughly. But finding the right brief is hard and expensive. CARA Brief Finder makes finding these invaluable resources effortless. The Casetext VP of Legal Research Pablo Arredondo  underscores the editorial effort they put in to selecting briefs from only the largest firms, specialty boutiques and government agencies. "We started with hundreds of thousands of briefs and culled this down to tens of thousands of briefs from highly reputable sources."

Use Cases. The press release highlights the following use cases:

·       Predicting opposing counsel’s arguments based on what similarly situated litigants have argued. By running drafts through CARA, CARA Brief Finder will surface previously filed briefs that both oppose and support a litigator’s arguments. See how other leading attorneys have approached the same issue you’re tackling right now—within seconds.

·       Making sure litigators don’t leave out any arguments. Review briefs filed by peers in the legal community to ensure you are not missing a key argument and that you’ve articulated those arguments as effectively as possible.

·       Helping litigators draft the most compelling briefs efficiently. Quickly and efficiently assemble the information litigators need to provide best-in-class service to clients.
First Low Cost Provider to Offer Briefs. Although premium services Westlaw, Lexis  and Bloomberg Law have offered a Briefs database for years, Casetext maybe the first low cost provider to offer searchable access to briefs and they are certainly the first to offer  access using an advanced algorithm to determine relevance.

Access Existing CARA subscribers will have access to "Brief Finder" for the duration of their subscription term at no additional charge.  The CARA Brief Finder" will be a separate module which can be added for an additional charge.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Arredondo a few questions about how CARA has evolved over the past year:

How many firms are on board?

We currently have deals with ten large law firms and dozens of smaller firms, in addition to hundreds of solo practitioners.  Casetext attracts over 1 million unique users to our site on a monthly basis.  


What has your growth been like?

 Casetext has grown substantially over the last several months in three key ways: (1) we are growing our team, from engineers and data scientists, to account managers, (2) we raised a $12M Series B round of venture funding (the largest round ever by a legal research company) and we are actively deploying those resources to continue to create innovative, effective products that attorneys can immediately start using in practice, and (3) in a short period of time we have sold subscriptions of our flagship product offering, CARA, to key firms across the country while expanding our presence to 75 law schools across the country. 

We decided early on to make CARA freely available to the courts.  Judges and clerks all over the country, both federal and state, appellate and trial, have started using CARA and we have been very encouraged by the early response.  At a training at one circuit court, the clerks where emphatic that litigants almost invariably overlook relevant case law. 


How has the product evolved?

The early and enthusiastic adoption of CARA by courts and law firms has given us great user feedback, which has guided the evolution of the product. One of the most critical improvements has been combining the power of CARA with keyword queries.  Currently CARA defaults to showing the top fifteen recommendations for the brief as a whole.  Attorneys interested in just one specific issue can easily enhance the search with a keyword query without losing all of the context-specific analysis that CARA provides.  


The other major improvement in the platform is that CARA now returns briefs as well as case law.  Our users are very excited about this and so are we.  Briefs can be one of the most expensive databases to access on traditional platforms.  We get these briefs from PACER; it is important to understand that we never store, much less use, the briefs that attorneys upload for research.  In order to ensure quality, we have culled our brief database (which updates regularly) down to briefs filed by leading law firms, boutiques, non-profits and government agencies.  You can filter the briefs by jurisdiction or use narrow-by-keyword.

Last year, I met Arredondo when he approached me in a meeting room at the AALL Conference in Chicago and asked me to see a brief demo of CARA. This year Arredondo reports that Casetext will have a booth in the Exhibit Hall at the AALL conference in Austin this July. Congratulations to Heller and Arredondo and all the folks at Casetext on the AALL award and the Brief Finder launch.  I am reminded of an advertising slogan from the 70's: "You've come a long way baby."

Here is a link to the  the Press Release on the CARA Brief Finder.

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