By Julius Melnitzer | February 7, 2022
With the recent launch of Jurisage AI, bulk access to a national case law collection is now a commercial reality in Canada.
“There’s a whole lot of insight and opportunity that comes with a national case law collection which has for the most part been unavailable to Canadians,” says Colin Lachance, co-founder and CEO of Compass Law and Jurisage. “We’re at least three or four years behind the U.S., for example.”
Lachance is also the founder of the Legal Innovation Data Institute (LIDI), a non-profit organization that licenses Compass’ database. Launched in September 2020, LIDI has compiled the LIDI Data Trust, a comprehensive collection of legal information. The Trust encompasses nearly all judgments published by 43 Canadian courts over the past 30 to 50 years; rich case law metadata; nearly 200,000 headnotes; and over 580,000 topic digests organized as a 150-topic key number system. By providing access to its members, LIDI hopes to expand legal data innovation beyond the few publishers that possess extensive collections of Canadian law.
“Sites like CanLII are fine for conventional legal work, especially if all you want to look up is a single case,” says Paul-Erik Veel, a commercial litigator at Lenczner Slaght LLP in Toronto and a leading advocate of using data analytics to inform litigation practice. “But neither CanLII nor any other legal publisher in Canada allows you to download material or search in bulk format, making it very difficult to populate databases and run analytics across them, which in turn has made it challenging for a broader AI ecosystem to develop in our legal arena.”
But LIDI members can access the organization’s data for “internal and non-commercial” activities, as explained on the organization’s website.
“For example, justice non-profits, law firms, legal clinics, courts, governments, and corporate legal departments may seek to enhance their knowledge management efforts, build internal predictive modelling tools or create public interest legal tech tools. Whereas universities, startups, legal publishers and technology companies may pursue empirical or academic research, rapid prototyping or proof of concept development, market entry evaluation, or training and refinement of legal domain-focused machine learning models.”
Jurisage, however, is the commercial outgrowth of Lachance’s vision. The joint venture will use Compass’ data and AltaML’s AI expertise to develop legal workflow products. The venture follows a year during which AltaML conducted natural language processing, machine-learning and prototype development on Compass’ data.
MyJr, a browser plug-in that automatically identifies case citations on websites, Microsoft Word and PDF documents, is Jurisage’s first retail product. The plug-in can also analyze each sentence in a decision and determine whether it speaks to a fact, an issue, the law, the court’s analysis or the ruling’s conclusion.
“The upshot is that you don’t even have to open a new tab to determine whether the case is relevant to the object of your research,” Lachance explains.
Julius Melnitzer is a Toronto-based legal affairs writer, ghostwriter, writing coach and media trainer. Readers can reach him at [email protected] or https://legalwriter.net/contact.