Welcome back to the start of a new school year! This is easily one of our favorite times of the year. Everyone is excited to get started with the new school year, everything is new and exciting, and we are faced with lots of new information.
Sometime information overload can be difficult to manage, especially starting a new field of study (like law school) or a new class in a new area of knowledge. It can be helpful to know that there are five primary ways of organizing information, according to The Visual Communication Guy. Here is a quick summary of these organization types:
Location – A visual depiction of where something is located in a physical space, like a street address, a mall map, or other visual depictions.
Alphabet – Simply; A, B, C, etc… If you can remember the Alphabet Song, you are in great shape. Here, good examples are a dictionary or an index.
Time – A look at something over a period of time to see changes, or look at a cycle or process. Some examples would be a chart showing the timeline of a crime, or a flowchart to remember the steps in a process.
Category – This is a very all-purpose method; if you can find a way that items are related, they can be categorized. An easy way is by color, size, subject (Library of Congress subject headings), and any other number of ways.
Hierarchy – Shows rank or order of importance; oldest to youngest, shortest to tallest, lightest to heaviest are good examples. One example would be a family tree.
How is this helpful to you in law school? Here are some ways organization can impact you here at law school.
The Law Library uses organization by category when we catalog books using the Library of Congress system. Our books are arranged by letter and number which are hierarchical in nature since they go from “A” to “Z.” Most law books are in the “K” classification and they are in number order from smallest “1” to highest “9999.” Our study guides, found behind the Circulation Desk, are organized by study aid series and then by subject matter.
Organization can also help impact how you’re studying. You could potentially organize your notes alphabetically, by date, by a particular process (using something like a flowchart to remember what analytical steps to go through), by subject.
Remember, if you start getting overwhelmed by information, organize it using one of these five methods.
The recent literature and numerous social media posts have noted that artificial intelligence (AI) is fast becoming part of the legal practice landscape, including legal research. Let’s briefly summarize a few of these products that focus on legal research.
CARA or Case Analysis Research Assistant is a tool developed by Casetext that can automatically review a document and look for cases or statutes that are relevant to the cited authority. By analyzing the document, CARA generates a list of additional authority that may be relevant to the cited references in the document.
Judicata is a relatively new legal research search engine claiming to provide results that are precise, relevant, and simple. Judicata asserts it can do so because it has mapped the “legal genome” and developed a set of filters that allow search results to be narrowed to their core components. However, for now, Judicata only includes California law but eventually hopes to add all jurisdictions.
ROSS uses IBM’s Watson, an artificial intelligence system capable of natural-language processing to filter through legal documents. Accordingly, “[i]nstead of searching for documents by keywords, one can ask questions in plain English . . .” The legal research robot is accessible via computer and billed as a subscription service. However, organizations providing legal assistance are given free access to the tool.
KNOMOS is described by its CEO as leveraging “data visualization and machine learning to augment user experience and develop a connected knowledge network for legal information . . .” Users get an “instant overview of how multiple legal sources relate to one another, with enhanced discoverability of key results based on contextual data from other users . . .”
Loom Analytics, a Canadian based system that “is data-driven legal research assistant that finds, classifies, and sorts case law . . .” Using a combination of legal analysis and machine learning, the system produces “hard numbers” on case law such as win/loss rates, judge ruling histories, litigation trends over time, and other like metrics.
blueJ Legal uses IBM’s Watson computer to run it flagship product, Tax Foresight. According to its website, Tax Foresight collects and analyses the facts and findings of Canadian court cases to predict what a court would hold under different circumstances. The site claims that “[t]he information that Tax Foresight collects is sufficient for the system to reach the correct prediction in greater than 90% of the cases in out-of-sample testing.”
These are a few examples where AI has crept into the legal research process. The infusion of AI into many of today’s legal tasks will only increase over time. But will it be enough to eliminate the research librarian or attorney? I think not. The unpredictability and random thought processes of humans are unparalleled and cannot be readily duplicated or replaced. There are simply an infinite number of variables, unknowns, and unpredictable scenarios that cannot be anticipated with mere algorithms.
All of these books are available from the Law Library. If you would like to check out any of these titles, please contact the circulation desk at either 806-742-3957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Library staff will be able to assist in locating and checking out any of these items.
The EBSCOhost Index of Legal Periodicals and Books (ILP) provides a comprehensive way to find sources on important legal topics. This blawg will show the different tools available once a search term has been entered.
On the home page, I placed “American Indian Law” in the search box and limited the sources to periodicals. The ILP search results provided a lot of potential sources.
On the left side of the page, there was a box showing the current search and also a way to limit the sources further. Each result also showed if there was a link the full PDF, a way to find it, or a way to request the source.
Once a source is selected, ILP provides many useful tools. There is an abstract, subject words, and an easy access way to download the PDF.
If ILP has the PDF, there is a myriad of tools to use within the PDF itself. For example, there is a tool to manage the table of contents and a way to print, email, or save the source.
Access to EBSCOhost: Index to Legal Periodicals and Books database is available through the Texas Tech Law Library website under the Electronic Databases tab.