Looking for the right AI for legal research? Five questions to ask and how Westlaw Precision continues to lead the way

Artificial intelligence (AI) is too great an opportunity for lawyers to ignore.

It's easy to nod in agreement with anyone who utters this statement. But it’s tougher to get clarity on how to be sure an AI solution delivers real value to attorneys and legal teams.

Westlaw Precision embraces this difficult question and aims to provide honest, comprehensive information about our approach and development process.

The 5 questions to ask about AI legal technology

To get the whole story about how to get the best AI for legal research, start with these five questions.

1. How strong is its data?

AI algorithms can only provide information if the underlying data they rely on is strong. The truth is that effective artificial intelligence is much, much more than just having a series of algorithms — AI platforms also need access to the right data sets and human experts must be involved in structuring the data.

An AI platform built on the foundation of existing, best-in-class data delivers more value than a series of algorithms masquerading as an AI platform.

Westlaw Precision has the most extensive and organized collection of legal data available because, for more than 100 years, attorney-editors have been analyzing, summarizing, and classifying primary law. In addition, our team of dedicated scientists and technology experts specializing in analytics, artificial intelligence, and data visualization apply advanced research to unlock the full potential of that data for legal researchers.

The Westlaw Precision AI models rank as the best in the legal world because Thomson Reuters began with solid data and applied technical expertise to build algorithms that complement our editorial processes.

2. How strong is its team’s legal knowledge?

There is no replacement for real-world legal experience when it comes to incorporating artificial intelligence into the provision of legal services.

Behind Westlaw Precision is a team of more than 500 experienced attorney-editors who ensure the legal content is accurate and accessible. These bar-admitted attorneys have premium legal educations and offer extreme attention to detail, a passion for the law, and an optimistic take on the value that automation can bring to legal organizations.

The Westlaw Precision editorial teams ensure the application of AI technology helps users get answers to their questions faster without sacrificing accuracy. Plus, get one-on-one research assistance from our bar-admitted Reference Attorneys specially trained in artificial intelligence, big data, and litigation analytics to support users’ legal research further.

3. How easy is it to use?

When it comes to research technology, legal researchers have unique needs, and those needs extend to the user interface. Researchers will most frequently use technology that's inviting, intuitive, and fast. 

Based on extensive research with hundreds of users, the intuitive user interface has always been a significant draw of Westlaw. Filters minimize scrolling, toolbars improve efficiency, and document formatting makes content easy to scan. The user interface also incorporates additional accessibility features to serve more customers better.

4. What is the company’s history?

New companies in the legal research software industry usually find a lot of catch-up necessary to create usable, reliable products. Hence, many new vendors in the legal industry focus narrowly — for example, on a specific research or practice area — and do not tend to make substantial investments in the overall user experience.

Well-respected companies that have a history in the legal industry have strong advantages. From the amount of available data to the depth of expertise that can only be built over time, a solid historical foundation in the complicated world of the law translates to leading capabilities in the current world of AI.

Since 1872, Thomson Reuters Westlaw has gathered the law and incorporated exclusive editorial advantages into our legal products, such as the Key Number System, KeyCite, and Headnotes. We set the historical precedent for classification in the legal industry and update it each year to reflect changes in the law.

5. How strong is its security?

Trust and confidentiality underpin the relationships between attorneys and their clients. The tools on which attorneys rely must meet strict security requirements for that vital trust to be protected.

Protecting user information is at the core of our information security strategy. Your data is safe and secure on Westlaw Precision with robust cybersecurity standards that align with the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) framework to address our compliance requirements. We encrypt and protect all data with multiple compliance and governance controls, including ISO/IEC 27001 and third-party and internal risk assessments. We are committed to providing a secure environment for the personal data and confidential information we hold.

Not all AI for legal research is created equal

An AI platform for legal research is only as powerful as the data, people, processes, experience, and security behind it. For more than 100 years, Westlaw has collected, analyzed, and organized legal data to make legal research easier and faster for users.

With the introduction of Westlaw Edge in 2018, we broke new ground: by fusing AI development with our comprehensive content operation, a new degree of automated intelligence became available at the fingertips of legal professionals everywhere. That same AI technology is available on Westlaw Precision, with big things in store later this year. Westlaw Precision will lead the way into a new era of legal research with the upcoming addition of generative AI capabilities that will help attorneys find the answers they need faster and easier than ever before.

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