If you come upon a really bright third year law student, you most likely will find someone who has very good research skills. These are the type of people every judge should have as an assistant. But, the budget reality is: many judges, certainly at the trial court level, do not have any law clerk or assistant.
Regrettably, there are lawyers who submit arguments that are facially plausible, but if you had the time and research skills you might find that the facially plausible brief is mostly contrived of BS (a legal term not frequently appearing in the final draft of appellate court decisions). It isn’t that anyone is unprofessional or devious, it is most often just due to mediocre research skills.
So…is there anything a judge can do about this? The answer is, yes:
CARA: A New Legal Research Tool, Free for the Judiciary
In a perfect world, litigants would cite to all relevant case law in their briefs. In the real world, litigants often do not. A new research tool, CARA, can help judges and their clerks quickly find important case law that the parties may have overlooked.
CARA, which was just awarded “2017 New Product of the Year” by the American Association of Law Libraries, is completely free for the courts. Using CARA could not be simpler. Simply take a brief (in PDF or Word format) and drag-and-drop it into the platform. Within seconds, CARA returns a list of cases highly relevant to, but not already cited in, the uploaded document.
CARA is the first legal research tool which ranks results according to what best matches the context of the matter at hand, including underlying legal and factual issues. To do this, CARA applies cutting-edge data science to analyze the inputted brief, extracting key information like citation and text patterns. This information is then leveraged to query a database of over eight million judicial opinions (updated daily and including appellate law from all 50 states and federal district court opinions).
Attorneys are already raving about the technology’s ability to make legal research more efficient and more thorough. David Eiseman, a partner at Quinn Emanuel, says, “CARA is an invaluable, innovative research tool. With CARA, we can upload a brief and within seconds receive additional case law suggestions and relevant information on how cases have been used in the past, all in a user-friendly interface. This feature is … a major step forward in how legal research is done.”
Judges who would like to be set up with a free CARA account should email firstname.lastname@example.org.