The Launch of the Legal Language Explorer

Prof. Daniel M. Katz @ the Computational Legal Studies blog recently posted about the Beta Pre-Release of, the site ( allows users to query one or more comma-separated phrases and return a time series plot of instances where the phrase appears in all the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court (which may expand to include federal appellate courts). Katz also posted a link to his paper on SSRN explaining the work behind

legal language explorer tool

I have not read the paper yet (I hope to have the time soon) but I did play around with the site a little and had a few quick observations. First, it is interesting to see the prevalence of certain phrases within the court’s decisions, especially where they are tied to cultural or legal changes. I tried a couple of example queries, such as “id, see, ibid” as a way to visualize how the court’s use of citations has changed over time. The time plot displays the raw number of instances of the phrases but the advanced features allow you to switch this to an average count per case (without this the increase in the number of cases would make it appear nearly every term is used more often after the 1940s). I think it would be better if the site had this normalization feature on by default, but that’s a small criticism. Overall, I think it’s interesting tool and will try to read the whole paper soon.

Lexis Advance Launch, Feedback

Robert Ambrogi @ the Law Sites blog has posted some good information about the new Lexis Advance platform, which was formally launched yesterday. While Greg Lambert @ 3 Geeks and a Law Blog posted about some of what he think Lexis is doing right and an explanation of how he thinks Lexis Advance represents the integration of the company’s legal platform with their High-Performance Cluster Computing (HPCC) analytics tool.

A lot of the discussion about the new Lexis platform seemed focused on how they plan to transition their users but I am more interested in how popular some of the new user interface features, such as visual Shepards or the new search history, are with users. Lexis does intend to charge users extra for the visual Shepards feature but it appears it will be free for current customers during the transition. While I think there are many interesting new ways to visually present legal data to users, I don’t agree with the idea that an improved visual display is something for which you should charge extra. If a user pays for access to the Shepard’s citator data, different presentations hsould not cost extra. Just think of the ridiculous scenerios that would happen if you applied this logic to print — is readable typography or layout a feature?

Visual Shepards Display

new search history display