Ravel View for Lexis Advance Visually Showcases Case Data for Faster Searching

Context: Daniel Lewis was just in his second year at Stanford Law School when he had an idea for a different way to do legal research. His idea was to display search results visually, along a cluster map that shows the relationships among cases and their relative importance to each other. Shortly after he graduated in 2012, he and classmate Nicholas Reed had launched the legal research platform derived from his idea, Ravel Law. Last June, five years after its founding, Ravel was acquired by legal research giant LexisNexis.

Ravel View for Lexis Advance is here!

In the latest iteration of Lexis's push to sift through massive amounts of data and provide meaningful results, Ravel View provides additional metrics and a visual, data-driven view for legal research results.

The programmers' constant tweaking of Lexis Advance to aid users is wonderful, but Ravel View showcases a truly innovative step in legal research visualization that meets users where they are likely to look.

The traditional list view of results will look familiar with a notable change -- the bar at the bottom of each case listed. It uses the colors of Shepard’s signal indicators to give the user a quick visual overview of how the case has been treated in subsequent citations.

Clicking view mode is where the magic happens. By clicking View Mode in the upper right corner of the screen, the user can switch over to the search visualization mode based on the Ravel integration. It uses [a] cluster map of larger and smaller bubbles showing connections among cases and relative importance of cases, all arranged along a timeline.

The above view is sorted by court. The circles are sized by how often the case is cited. Users get the benefit of Shepard's integration to easily view the citation relationship between cases by showing which cases judges find most important. With a quick hover, users see the citing language used in the case.

The beauty of this type of case visualization is the ability to quickly and easily identify key cases that may not have been uncovered in traditional list view, such as spotting key Supreme Court decisions. And it shows, in context, why the cases are important.

From the example above, one of the four Supreme Court decisions shown in the visual was buried deep in the traditional list view of results sorted by relevance. Ravel View makes it easy to identify this decision visually and shows how often this case has been cited by lower courts. The user can clearly see that this is a case to review.

Drawing analogies to studies on the Google Generation's research habits showing that they are likely to scan results quickly and not go beyond the first page of results (and probably not past the top 3 results), this product may, in fact, save us all.

In additional to this iterative step in legal research data visualization, we get another added benefit of the Ravel/LexisNexis deal. Before its acquisition by LexisNexis, Ravel had embarked on a project with Harvard Law School to digitize all U.S. case law. [B]oth Harvard and LexisNexis committed to completing that project, carried out under the auspices of the Harvard Library Innovation Lab. Those cases have now been added to the Lexis Advance database. The total collection from Harvard was 5-7 million documents, and a “few hundred thousand” of them were cases not previously included in Lexis, Pfeifer said. That brought the number of case documents in Lexis Advance from 13.5 million to nearly 14 million. In addition, later this year, Lexis Advance will be adding PDFs of all the cases from the Harvard collection. These include cases from before the American Revolution up to 2016.

Lexis plans to continue the rollout of the Ravel integration in Lexis Advance with analytics on judges and courts later this summer.


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