Legal Analytics Tools Available Through the PLRC

Did you know that the Pritzker Legal Research Center provides access to numerous legal analytics tools?  Researchers can use these tools to, among other things, (1) learn more about the writing and decision patterns of judges, (2) review the litigation portfolio of law firms, and (3) make sure their briefs and memoranda are not missing any important cases or citing cases that have been reversed.  In this post, I will describe a few of these tools in detail and explain how to access them.

Ravel Judge Analytics, available at https://www.ravellaw.com is a resource that allows you to review all of a judge’s opinions on a particular topic, as well as the other opinions, courts, and judges she cites most frequently.  This information is available for every U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals, and U.S. District Court judge ever appointed, sitting U.S. Magistrates and U.S. Bankruptcy Court judges, as well sitting state appellate court judges for cases from 1999-present.  Using this site to research Judge Jorge Luis Alonso of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, for example, we can isolate his 40 opinions on employment law issues, 4 of which contain the phrase “hostile work environment.”  We can also learn that, in employment law disputes, Judge Alonso has granted 52% of summary judgment motions and, in his opinions on these motions, he has most often cited Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986).  To access Ravel Judge Analytics, visit https://www.ravellaw.com and select “Sign Up” in the top-right corner.  Make sure to create your account using your Northwestern Law email address.

Ravel Judge Analytics

Ravel Judge Analytics

A second useful resource is Bloomberg Law’s Litigation Analytics, available at https://www.bloomberglaw.com/product/blaw/litigation/analytics/new.  Using this tool, researchers can obtain data-driven insights for companies, law firms, and judges.  For example, a search for Tesla, Inc. reveals that both Morrison & Foerster LLP and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC have represented the company in litigation.  A search for Kirkland & Ellis LLP, meanwhile, shows that the firm has represented BP extensively in federal litigation.  Finally, a search for Ruben Castillo reveals that he has been affirmed on appeal 59.7% of the time, has presided over 297 ERISA cases, and that those cases last, on average, 55 days.  The link provided above will take you directly into Bloomberg Law Litigation Analytics after you provide your username and password.  If you’ve yet to create an account, you can do so at https://www.bloomberglaw.com/activate, using your Northwestern Law email address.

Bloomberg Law Litigation Analytics

Bloomberg Law Litigation Analytics

Finally, two brief analysis tools, CARA by Casetext and EVA by ROSS, allow you to upload a piece of legal writing and receive feedback.  To use CARA, you will need to first create a Casetext account at https://www.casetext.com, using your Northwestern Law email address and indicating that you are a Northwestern Law user.  After creating your account, visit https://casetext.com/cara/upload.  After you upload a document, CARA provides a list of cases not cited in your document which the system deems relevant.  Not only is this a helpful check on your own research, but it is also a potentially useful tool for locating cases opposing counsel omitted from their brief.  Meanwhile, EVA by ROSS helps researchers (1) ensure the cases cited in their document are still good law and (2) find cases with language similar to that in the brief.  To access EVA, you will need to create an account at https://eva.rossintelligence.com.  Once you have created an account, simply log in and upload your document.  A list of cases cited in your document that have received negative treatment will appear at the top of the page.  Moreover, to locate cases containing similar language as your brief, highlight a passage and select “Find Similar Language.”

Casetext CARA

Casetext CARA

 

ROSS EVA

ROSS EVA

In a recent blog post, Jean O’Grady, Sr. Director of Information, Research & Knowledge at DLA Piper US, LLP, posited “in five years legal analytics will become a core competency demanded by state bar associations – similar to the recent adoption of standards for technology competence in many states.”  Jean O’Grady, LexisNexis Acquires Ravel Law: A Tipping Point for Legal Analytics and the Second Wave of Legal KM, Dewey B Strategic (June 9, 2017), http://www.deweybstrategic.com/2017/06/lexisnexis-acquires-ravel-law-tipping.html.  Whether or not Ms. O’Grady’s prediction comes to fruition, patrons of the Pritzker Legal Research Center will increasingly have access to advanced tools that provide data-driven insights.

Posted in Instruction, Library Resources, Resource Spotlight, Tech, Uncategorized

Resource Spotlight: Ancestry.com

Although it’s often used for genealogy, Ancestry can also be a valuable tool for legal research. Containing census records, military records, and immigration records, it can be helpful when looking into the history of a person or place, and especially when working with historical legal documents.

For example, in preparation for our last exhibit, which featured historical legal instruments from the Dean Hansell Collection, I used Ancestry to locate and verify some of the people and places mentioned in the items on display. This particular document mentions the names of several several justices serving on the Common Bench in 1657 (underlined in yellow):

Ancestry verified that the I had transcribed the document correctly and that there was, indeed, an Oliver St. John, Edward Atkyns, Mathew Hale, & Hugh Wyndham in London (Westminster) at the time. Noting their full names and life dates, I was able to discoverusing resources such as Google, Wikipedia, and the Dictionary of National Biographythat these men were renowned and influential jurists, lending prestige to this particular document. It also lent it an element of humanity when I was able to find a picture of the first one listed, Oliver St. John:

Of course, Ancestry has more recent records, too. If you’d like to use it for your own research, you can find simply by typing in “Ancestry” on the main search bar:

And, finally, if you’d like to see any of the items in our special collections and archives, just fill out the form below!

Posted in Uncategorized

 

Is he safe…or out?

The Pritzker Legal Research Center is getting ready for its spring exhibit featuring photographs from past faculty-student softball games. Do you have any photographs or memories from your time on the field? If so, we’d love to see them in the comments section below!

Look out for Play Ball! to debut next month. In the meantime, email Special Collection Librarian Brittany Adams with any questions or contributions: brittany.adams@law.northwestern.edu.

Posted in Uncategorized

Resource Spotlight: Course Reserves

The Reserves section is located behind the PLRC circulation desk. It contains items of varying type and origin: monographs from the PLRC, monographs from the main library and other campus libraries, periodicals, reporters, statutes, personal copies of books supplied by faculty, loose-leaf printouts, etc. These items can be checked out for four hours at a time. There is also equipment to rent like computer/phone chargers, HDMI cables, and headphones, as well as a Study Aid section comprised of instruction/summary materials that can be checked out over a 24-hour period.

The purpose behind a Reserves section is both egalitarian and practical in character; egalitarian in that a basic availability is guaranteed to all, and practical in that this availability is required for participation in particular courses that are currently underway. This dual purpose yields a flow that, when abstracted, looks integrative and social in character. When we place Reserves within the totality of the university setting, we see a system of learning and resource allocation that is in essence collaborative. Different people at different times come to the same place to share and exchange the same material, all for the sake of the same generalized pursuit.

Now, the individual experience of Reserves is of course much different from this abstract picture. For the most part, Reserves work at the PLRC as they work everywhere else: faculty request that items be put on Reserve, staff put them on Reserve, and students come to the desk looking for items they think are on Reserve. Students then provide circulation staff with varying amounts of information and eventually receive an item they can keep for four hours. Things get done, but the abstract picture we painted, that of a collaborative hub of exchange, remains implicit and does not achieve the self-awareness it might.

However, there is a more streamlined and potentially collaborative way that Reserves searching works.

When placing items on Reserve in Alma, staff create a course listing that is dually classified by faculty name and course title. Staff then add items to the course via a Reading List function, the contents of which are tied to the specific course listing in both Alma and NUsearch. Once a Reading List is complete in Alma, the items that belong to it become searchable by faculty name or course title through the Course Reserves search bar, which can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/ycnwn2z9. (Steps to reach this function are listed below.)

Within the Course Reserves tab, students only need to enter a course title or faculty name. If searching by course title, students will be shown all the Reserves items that belong to that course. If searching by faculty name, students will be shown all the Reserves items that belong to all of the courses taught by that faculty member, provided a Reading List has been made for those courses. Each item listing displays identifying course and faculty information. Any alterations made to these lists in Alma are added to NUsearch overnight and show up in search results the next day.

(An example of a faculty name search; please click to enlarge.)

We can see that as opposed to current practice, in which students typically approach the circulation desk with disparate information and eventually find what they need through trial-and-error, there exists a system of Reserves searching that provides students with a single dynamic resource through which to ascertain the information they need.

We can imagine the integrative future here: faculty collaborate with library staff to update their Reading Lists throughout the semester, students consult the lists per faculty reminder or routine, front-line desk interactions run more smoothly, and Reserves becomes in time a more automated and aesthetic system. This future would presuppose a foundational compact between faculty, library staff, and students, in which the players all understand that they are engaging with Reserves items through Reading Lists and the Course Reserves search, rather than as disparate items to be found piecemeal. It thus remains an integrative dream, but one for which the resources are there in full.

If you’re interested in learning more about Course Reserves, please contact James Driscoll, Circulation Services Manager, at james.driscoll@law.northwestern.edu.

 

Steps (please click photos to enlarge):

  1. Go to the PLRC’s homepage: http://www.library.law.northwestern.edu/home

  2. Click ‘Students’

  3. Click ‘Course Reserves’
  4. Click ‘NUsearch’s Course Reserve tab’

  5. Make sure the tab selected is ‘Law Reserve’
  6. Search by course name, faculty name, or item title/author
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Posted in Resource Spotlight

New Resources for 2018

We added over 100 new books, journals and government documents to our collection in January. See them all at: http://www.library.law.northwestern.edu/collections/new-books

Posted in Library Resources

New Acquisition for the Dean Hansell Collection

The Pritzker Legal Research Center is delighted to receive a 17th-century religious and political tract from the Honorable Dean Hansell to add to the collection that bears his name. An alumnus of the Law School (JD ’77), Judge Hansell has led a distinguished career as an attorney and now as a judge on the California Superior Court in Los Angeles. Outside of his work, he is an avid collector of historical legal documents and has generously donated a number of items from his personal collection to the Law School.

Aphorismes of State situates itself within the Thirty Years’ War, in which Catholics and Protestants fought for religious control throughout the Holy Roman Empire. The Protestant Frederick V, Elector of Palatine, had recently suffered a defeat against Catholic troops and, in consequence, also suffered the loss of his inherited title. An electorship carried with it more than privilege and prestige—it also carried power when it came time to select the next Emperor. Frederick’s electorship was subsequently given to Maximilian of Bavaria, who happened to be very Catholic. In this document, Protestant polemicist Thomas Scott (1580?-1626) takes aim at the “Romish Church” in response to these events.

Scott was a prolific writer, publishing around 30 unique titles during his lifetime (one catalogue attributes 77 editions printed in the 17th century to his pen). Much of this work was spent decrying the Catholic Church and, by extension, Protestant England’s attempted allegiance with Catholic Spain. His most famous piece, Vox Populi, or, Newes from Spayne, was so scathing that he originally published it without a byline. Once he was revealed as the author, he left Britain, his home country, and spent the rest of his life in the Netherlands.

Our copy of Scott’s tract is an English translation from its original Dutch, and is one of four known editions published in 1624. Although the imprint simply states “Printed at Vtrech [Utrecht],” bibliographers believe it was actually printed by John Beale in London. Beale, who produced more than 300 editions throughout a thirty-year career, often printed religious texts such as catechisms, devotional literature, and treatises. Supporting the theory that he was, in fact, the printer of this volume, the decorative ornaments on the pages of our copy match those used by Beale in other books. Furthermore, he has been suggested as the printer of another tract written by Scott and published the same year.

In recognition of their significance, the Pritzer Legal Research Center is working to digitize the Dean Hansell Collection, and progress may be viewed online at https://plrc.omeka.net. To see Aphorismes of State in full, please click here.

Posted in Uncategorized

New Resources in December

Snow dayCheck out the last additions to the collection for 2017.  In December we added over 260 new books, journals and government documents to our collection.

See them all at: http://www.library.law.northwestern.edu/collections/new-books

Posted in Library Resources

Student Library Assistant Positions Available for Spring Semester

The Pritzker Legal Research Center is looking for reliable law students to work at the library circulation desk in the afternoons and on weekends during the spring 2018 semester. Duties include the following:

  • Check out and check in books, journals, reserve books and other library materials
  • Answer basic informational, directional and library policy questions, help patrons locate materials in the stacks, provide basic printer and copy machine assistance
  • Help troubleshoot public computers according to directions
  • Record and tally usage statistics
  • Search the stacks for books reported missing
  • Assist with opening and closing procedures

Interested students should send the completed application form and resume to James Driscoll, Circulation Services Manager.

Posted in Position Available

Resource Spotlight: Restatements, Principles of Law, and More ALI Treatises @ Your Fingertips

With origins dating back to 1923, The American Law Institute (ALI)’s mission is “to promote the clarification and simplification of the law and its better adaptation to social needs, to secure the better administration of justice, and to encourage and carry on scholarly and scientific legal work.” To fulfill this charge, ALI publishes several renowned treatises to help you quickly understand unknown areas of law and best statutory practices, including Restatements of the Law, Principles of the Law, the Model Penal Code, ALI-ABA Periodicals, and the Uniform Commercial Code.

You have access to ALI titles through HeinOnline, whether you are on or off campus!  To get started, click the “HeinOnline” link from the Law Library’s homepage.

Hein

From the HeinOnline homepage, click the “American Law Institute Library” link from the left column of databases to open the expanded menu.  From here you can click into a specific title, or click “American Law Institute Library” again to load all of the ALI titles available to you.

ALI in Hein

Last but not least, the ALI Library now features a locator tool for quick access to specific sections of Restatements!  This handy drop-down menu allows you to select the title, type in a section number, and click “Submit,” directly retrieving the Restatement you need in a matter of seconds.

ALI in Hein

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Posted in Library Resources, Resource Spotlight

New Resources in November

Autumn trees

We have added 250 new titles to our collection in November. Check out our latest additions at: http://www.library.law.northwestern.edu/collections/new-books

Posted in Library Resources, Uncategorized