Thursday, April 25, 2013

Good Law, Bad Bot

Today, the makers of the legal research service FastCase unveiled the Bad Law Bot, an enhancement to its Authority Check citator feature which uses algorithms to highlight subsequent negative history. Although such editorial characterization is familiar to users of the premium legal research services LexisNexis (Shepard's Citations) and Westlaw (KeyCite), this represents a major step forward for the lower-cost legal research alternative. Authority Check previously provided only a list of linked opinions which cited the original case, and always recommended that users supplement their Authority Check findings with the additional horsepower of Shepard's and KeyCite.

FastCase does still caution that the Bad Law Bot flags are no substitute for the careful analysis of a human attorney – while the presence of a negative Bad Law Bot flag likely indicates some negative subsequent history, the absence of a negative Bad Law Bot flag shouldn't necessarily be interpreted to mean "all clear." (Of course, as Duke Law's research instructors will happily remind you, this is good advice for using the premium citator services as well!) You can see a screencap of the service in action on FastCase’s announcement of the service.

FastCase is available for free to members of the North Carolina Bar Association, as well as through about 25 other state and local bar associations. Many other state and local bars provide their members with rival research alternatives, such as Casemaker and Loislaw; you can read more about all three in our library guide to Legal Research on the Web.

For help with navigating citator services on any legal research platform, be sure to Ask a Librarian.