Jocelyn Stilwell-Tong, Law Librarian, California Court of Appeal, Sixth Appellate District, has determined that although free AI online is useful, the developing products from major legal research platforms show great promise. These paid products control for issues like hallucinations, and provide citations supporting their work so a researcher can confirm the accuracy and context of the materials the AI is pulling from. Issues surrounding data governance (what the company does with your uploaded material and search history) can be controlled by contract, and the legal vendors understand that this is a concern for most legal clients.
The emergence of Large Language Models (LLMs) in legal research signifies a transformative shift. This article by Sean Harrington critically evaluates the advent and fine-tuning of Law-Specific LLMs, such as those offered by Casetext, Westlaw, and Lexis. Unlike generalized models, these specialized LLMs draw from databases enriched with authoritative legal resources, ensuring accuracy and relevance. Harrington highlights the importance of advanced prompting techniques and the innovative utilization of embeddings and vector databases, which enable semantic searching, a critical aspect in retrieving nuanced legal information. Furthermore, the article addresses the ‘Black Box Problem’ and explores remedies for transparency. It also discusses the potential of crowdsourcing secondary materials as a means to democratize legal knowledge. In conclusion, this article emphasizes that Law-Specific LLMs, with proper development and ethical considerations, can revolutionize legal research and practice, while calling for active engagement from the legal community in shaping this emerging technology.
This guide by Marcus Zillman identifies a wide range of free and fee based resources from which to choose to conduct people searches as well as brand and company reputation research, for business or personal reasons. It is important to note that the largest and most prominent data aggregators resell their content to other sites. In addition, data on free and some fee based sites may not be cleansed and can include inaccuracies that range from minor to critical. Also, many sites offer free search but charge a fee to review the results. It is therefore advisable to use multiple sources in your research and compare and contrast results before pursuing the use of these data.
Nicole L. Black’s review highlights this book’s breadth of coverage and its format, information about a variety of free online tools, including public records databases, newsletters, and encyclopedias, and case law and statutes, fee-based legal research tools, as well as traditional case law and statutory research tools, and cutting edge AI-based legal research and data analytics software.
Robert Ambrogi has authored the definitive review of Lexis+. His precise and expert review of the site, accompanied by relevant screen shots, is a must read guide for legal researchers as they consider whether to transition to this new platform. Ambrogi states: “The basic experience of conducting legal research in Lexis+ is not all that different from Lexis Advance. But the added features that I described above — Search Tree, Missing and Must Include, Search Term Maps, and Ravel View — are valuable in that they give researchers more control over their searches and results without requiring them to be power researchers.”
Legal research companies are selling surveillance data and services to law enforcement agencies including ICE. Their participation in government surveillance raises ethical questions about privacy, confidentiality and financial support: How private is your search history when your legal research vendors also sell surveillance data? Are you funding products that sell your patrons’ and clients’ data to ICE and other law enforcement agencies? Law professor professor and faculty services librarian Sarah Lamdan’s article focuses on how librarians uphold their privacy and intellectual freedom standards when they rely on surveillance companies for their research resources.
In anticipation of the incorporation of Ravel Law visualization technology into an upcoming iteration of LexisAdvance, Reference Librarian and Professor Sarah Gotcshall shows us examples of how Ravel Law and Shepard’s graphical view work now.
Ashley Ahlbrand is the Educational Technology at Librarian Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law. Her expert teaching and training skills offer readers insights into the role of Google as well as integrative browser add-ons like Lexis Views in preparing students to effectively and comprehensively complete research assignments.
A Matter of Trust: Why the Time is Right to Adopt the Uniform Electronic Legal Materials Act (UELMA) in Florida
In this article, Law Librarian Patricia Morgan brings our attention to a group of prominently related issues on electronic legal research whose application are critical for attorneys, librarians and courts. In an era where cost-cutting has become increasingly important, there already exists an untapped resource related to legal research. More and more resources exist online (some exclusively). It has been a long time since the introduction of the Internet, but it is finally going to prove instrumental in reducing the cost of legal research. It is time to come to terms with the fact that most legal material should be readily available electronically and that there must be a way to verify that the material is authentic. As Morgan queries and answers – Uniform Law, Anyone?
Steven A. Lastres writes that research has always been core to the practice of law. However, the results of a recent survey Steven has authored identified a “New Normal” in today’s business climate that has a profound effect in the delivery of legal services and impacts how research is conducted.