Conversational legal research

Introducing JADE Chat-and-Know™

Over the past year, our legal research boffins have been working to make your legal research faster, better, and more enjoyable. We could think of few better ways than mobilising our massive database of legal knowledge and making it available at your (voice) command.

With JADE professional’s emerging Chat-and-Know™ technology, we are taking the next big step towards a conversational model for legal research. Starting today, we are inviting our existing JADE professional users to sign up to our limited beta. To join, please speak with your JADE professional consultant. If you have not already signed up to JADE professional, please ask about joining this beta after you sign up.

Conversational legal research is nothing new

Remember the good old days, back before the arrival of AustLII in the mid-1990s, when we would ask our colleagues for assistance, and discuss our most pressing legal questions with them. And that process would elicit a range of legal possibilities that boolean searching simply could not capture.

The coherence of law was manifest in those discussions, as was the imprecision of the answers we would receive, often requiring many hours of further library research. The collegiality of the legal profession was cemented by this common quest for legal knowledge.

We need to campaign for the value of ‘less is more’

Since the rise of online legal research, the art of conversational legal research has been undervalued: it seems that vast quantities of irrelevant results churned out through imperfect and primitive electronic legal research tools have gained undeserved ascendancy.

In this age of research excess, we have forgotten that simplicity and clarity is often more valuable than the presentation of every decision in which a discretion is exercised. We need to remember that ‘less is more’, for our clients, in court, and because people want us to tell them the time and not build them a clock.

Conversational legal research is about reclaiming and reimagining how legal research might be in the post-screen age. By using only your voice, you will be able to undertake legal research and get answers to some of the most difficult questions. Strike up a conversation about the rule of law. Discover answers to questions through a simple conversation. Cross-examine, Jasmine, our JadeBot.

Conversational examples

With Jasmine, you will be able to have conversations. We will publish some examples in our next post.

A photo by Matt Benson. unsplash.com/photos/MKLRMeKctI4

Year in Review 2016

Faster pussycat. Easier, Faster, Better

In our 2015 JADE Review, we explained the JADE credo: easier, faster.

We have spent 2016, continuing our quest to make JADE the best legal research platform for legal professionals. Our team has grown, with more dedicated JADE team members.

We delivered regular and special training events in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, London, Melbourne, Oxfordshire, Perth, San Francisco, and Sydney.

The whole BarNet team sends greetings, and wishes you, our dear reader, happy holidays.

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Key improvements we made to JADE in 2016

JADE Platform enhancements

Here are just a few of the amazing improvements we made during 2016 to the JADE Research Platform (for the improvements made in 2015, see our 2015 review):

  • Ease of inclusion and citation
    • Intelligent URLS. We updated all of our URLs to a format which allows you to cite to JADE at the paragraph or section level. This makes it easy to cut and paste JADE content into your opinions or blogs and have JADE tell you about updates. You can use any citation scheme as well, no need to know the internal JADE references. More about this in a separate post.
    • Copy and paste with ease. We are making it easier to incorporate JADE content into your work. Writing submissions and need to grab the correct citation, it’s easy with JADE. More about this in a separate post.
    • Customised annotations. With new features, JADE helps you to find the law and remember it. With recent changes, we also make it easier for you to duplicate your annotations and share them with colleagues.
  • Improved JADE professional features. After all, our JADE professional users support the development of JADE, so you deserve regular updates. Here a just a few of the exciting improvements we made to JADE professional:
    • Document upload. We improved document upload. With the work we have undertaken on citations our amazing upload tool now detects more citation errors (such as where the case name and citation don’t match, or where the page cited does not come within the relevant citation. More about this in a separate post.
    • Legislation histories. We extended our very popular and time saving visual history features from Commonwealth legislation to New South Wales, Queensland, and Victorian legislation. We are in the process of adding South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory, and the Northern Territory. We are continuing to seek access to Western Australian statutory material.
    • Victorian Reports are live and linked into JADE. Links to the authorised Victorian Reports version of the decision since [1957] VR to date. We are in the process of adding in content from 1863 onwards, but, of course, working backwards. This is linked to the Victorian Reports Pay Per View portal, which makes using the Victorian Reports easier than ever.
    • Tracking legislative and regulatory changes. You can set up an alert to track changes in legislation, including any compilations. For example, when a new compilation of an Act has been released.
  • We implemented the second part of our extensive litigation histories project for most intermediate appellate courts and the High Court of Australia, which includes (as with the first part):
    • (in the case of the High Court) references to written submissions, special leave hearings, and transcript.
    • (in the case of all courts) tracing as many decisions as we can find, including earlier interlocutory hearings; and
    • letting you know (as best we can) that a decision you are reading has received subsequent appellate consideration, including from the FCCA and AATA, or in the case of some intermediate appellate courts and the High Court of Australia, when a decision is pending, and, in the case of the High Court, when special leave has been granted or refused.

We have many more improvements in the pipeline for early 2017. If you have suggestions for improvements, please let us know.

More content in the JADE Content Ecosystem

We put even more content into the JADE system. Here’s a brief snapshot:

  • Including links to all authorised report and leading specialised report series. This means that:
    • you can search by reference to reported citations, without needing to know the Medium Neutral Citation. Even better, if you subscribe to these reports, you can see at a glance if a decision has been reported and use JADE to reliably locate the authorised report citation. We added additional report series coverage in 2016.
    • we now include the following additional report series citations, and we have been progressively backfilling them to the entire series where possible, even if there is no corresponding Medium Neutral Citation):
      • All current Australian Authorised reports series, ACTR, NSWLR, NTR, QdR, SASR, TasR, VR, and WAR;
      • Administrative Law Decisions (ALD);
      • Butterworths Property Reports (BPR);
      • Local Government and Environmental Reports of Australia (LGERA);
      • Australian Criminal Reports (ACR, ACrimR, A Crim R);
      • Banking and Finance Reports of Australia (BFRA);
      • Australian Tax Cases (ATC);
      • Motor Vehicle Reports (MVR);
      • Family Law Reports (Fam LR); and
      • Intellectual Property Reports (IPR).
      • Historial report series: NSWR, SR(NSW), VLR, etc.
      • State Reports (Western Australia) (SR (WA))
      • Strata Title Reports (New South Wales) (STR (NSW))
      • All England Reports (All ER)
  • Even more Court and Tribunal content. During 2016, driven by requests from our users, we added many additional courts and tribunals to the JADE Corpus, including:
    • Queensland Land Court (QLC)
    • Queensland Land Court – Appeals Cases (QLAC)
    • Queensland Children’s Court (QChC)
    • Magistrates’ Court of Queensland – Children’s Court (QChCM)
    • Northern Territory Local Court (NTLC)
    • Family Court of Western Australia (FCWA)
    • Family Court of Western Australia – Magistrates (FCWAM).

New reading and reporting formats

  • We made new formats for our JADE professional users, including:
    • Further enhancement to our professional layout: under the Print and Export tab there is now a Professional Layout option for cases post 2013 which puts the unreported decision in a familiar law report format.
    • The Collation of full-text decisions into a single PDF, if you upload full-text decisions.

JADE World launched

We added more content to our side project, JADE World which was launched in 2015. JADE World aggregates selected leading blogs and tweets referring to cases or statutes and integrates them with content found in JADE as an additional tool for maintaining current awareness.

Thank you for your support

The support we’ve received and continue to receive from all the JADE Professional subscriptions is overwhelming. Thanks to you we’re in a good position to surpass JADE 2015 in the new year. Be ready for the new JADE features in 2017.

See you in January.

Victorian Reports 2.0

It’s been a big few months. We have launched the Victorian Reports site through our wholly owned subsidiary, Little William Bourke. Links to the Victorian Reports are fully integrated with JADE.

The Victorian Reports (also once known (until from 1957 as the Victorian Law Reports) is available at: https://victorianreports.com.au. You can subscribe online.

Our Phrase in Context legal research tool, Zora, is still under development. We are about to launch that.

 

JADE Year in Review 2015

Easier, Faster, Better

The JADE editorial team has had an amazing year. New team members, even more content, and even more users.

Our mission is to make legal research easier, faster, and better. Like all good mission statements, it is unbounded and provide a range of meanings. Is your easier, our easier? Does ‘better’ come in orange or black? Is green the new red? As with all professional legal research platforms, seeing is believing in JADE.

Meet the team

We have more dedicated JADE team members, but our lego supplies have been used to construct our new 3D user interface, virtual reality goggles, and to create personas for our JADE users. Because every user is different, we have needed a lot of lego. We pieced this photo together from leftovers.

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The whole BarNet team sends greetings, and wishes you, our dear reader, happy holidays.

Key improvements we made to JADE in 2015

JADE Platform enhancements

Here are just a few of the amazing improvements we made during 2015 to the JADE Research Platform:

  • We implemented the first part of our extensive litigation histories project for most intermediate appellate courts and the High Court of Australia, which includes:
    • (in the case of the High Court) references to written submissions, special leave hearings, and transcript.
    • (in the case of all courts) tracing as many decisions as we can find, including earlier interlocutory hearings; and
    • letting you know (as best we can) that a decision you are reading has received subsequent appellate consideration, including from the FCCA and AATA, or in the case of some intermediate appellate courts and the High Court of Australia, when a decision is pending, and, in the case of the High Court, when special leave has been granted or refused.
  • We improved proximity operators to let you use what you know from other major legal research platforms in JADE. This includes the popular w/n and w/p options. We also coupled that with better documentation.
  • We created the amazing JADE Find tool to help you to pin-point search terms within your search results and save time, unlike any other professional legal research system, we highlight (in vibrant wonderful colours):
    • the places where the entire search string is satisfied in the decision and not just mere words; and
    • root derivatives of words, so that typing in ‘injury’ will also highlight references to injuries, injured, injuring, and more.
  • We harnessed the power of virtual scissors, to help you quickly focus on your research. If you are a JADE Professional user, with a single click you can see only the paragraphs which contain:
    • the terms entered (aptly and uniquely called focus matches); or
    • the parts of the retrieved decision to which reference has been made by subsequent decisions (unimaginatively called ‘see cited sections only’).
  • Linking JADE to your organisation’s library’s subscription systems and other content. We call this feature LibraryPlus and it is available to JADE Enterprise Users for a small additional fee.

We have many more improvements in the pipeline for early 2016. If you have suggestions for improvements, please let us know.

More content in the JADE Content Ecosystem

We put much more content into the JADE system. Here’s a brief snapshot:

  • Including links to all authorised report and leading specialised report series. This means that:
    • you can search by reference to reported citations, without needing to know the Medium Neutral Citation. Even better, if you subscribe to these reports, you can see at a glance if a decision has been reported and use JADE to reliably locate the authorised report citation.
    • we now include the following additional report series citations, and we have been progressively backfilling them to at least 2000:
      • All Australian Authorised reports series, ACTR, NSWLR, NTR, QdR, SASR, TasR, VR, and WAR;
      • Administrative Law Decisions (ALD);
      • Butterworths Property Reports (BPR);
      • Local Government and Environmental Reports of Australia (LGERA);
      • Australian Criminal Reports (ACR, ACrimR, A Crim R);
      • Banking and Finance Reports of Australia (BFRA);
      • Australian Tax Cases (ATC);
      • Motor Vehicle Reports (MVR);
      • Family Law Reports (Fam LR); and
      • Intellectual Property Reports (IPR).
  • Legislation. During 2015, we added and enhanced additional legislation coverage. In particular we added and enhanced Commonwealth Legislation, New South Wales Legislation, Queensland Legislation, Victorian Legislation, and ACT legislation. Expect many more enhancements in January 2016 as our coders taken their computers to the beach for extra fun.
  • More Court and Tribunal content. During 2015, driven by requests from our users, we added many additional courts and tribunals to the JADE Corpus, including:
    • the County Court of Victoria (VCC)
    • ACT Industrial Court;
    • ACT Coroner’s Court;
    • Industrial Court of Queensland;
    • Mental Health Tribunal of NSW)
    • South Australian Wardens Court;
    • NSW Workers Compensation Commission; and
    • WA State Administrative Tribunal.

New reading and reporting formats

  • We made new formats for our JADE professional users, including:
    • Professional layout: under the Print and Export tab there is now a Professional Layout option for cases post 2013 which puts the unreported decision in a familiar law report format.
    • The Collation of full-text decisions into a single PDF, if you upload full-text decisions.

JADE World launched

Our side project, JADE World was launched on 15 June 2015.

JADE World aggregates selected leading blogs and tweets referring to cases or statutes and integrates them with content found in JADE as an additional tool for maintaining current awareness.

Thank you for your support

The support we’ve received and continue to receive from all the JADE Professional subscriptions is overwhelming. Thanks to you we’re in a good position to surpass JADE 2015 in the new year. Be ready for the new JADE features in 2016.

 

See you in January.

Phrase in context machine learning

The JADE team is delighted to announce the next generation in its highly-praised search system. Code-named Zora, our new system is being progressively released to JADE professional subscribers.

We are using new methods and new equipment to bring this system to life. There are three key parts to Zora:

  • the combobulator transduction gateway™;
  • the ambiguity containment cortex™; and
  • the phrase extraction tanks™

Here are a few photos as the team was working on the prototype:

Combobulator transduction gateway™

Legal search systems often overlook that meaning is in the eye of the beholder, and that one legal researcher’s meaning may be another’s confusion. Using our state-of-the-art combobulator transduction gateway™, we have been able to extract personalised research results to minimise search frustration.

As the following photo illustrates, the assembly of this capability takes a talented hands-on engineering team.

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This device can process more than 200,000 meanings a second.
It’s tricky work to tune the JADE Combobulator.
source: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsac.1a35314

Ambiguity containment cortex™

Our team’s motto is the “ambiguity is the enemy of progress”. When our users search for contract, they want agreement and not reduce in size. After years of research, it turns out we were approaching the problem of legal search in the wrong way. We needed to look at the space between words, rather than the words themselves. We needed to consider proximity searching in a new way.

Built into the core of JADE, the ambiguity containment cortex is deceptively small. Holding only the spaces between words, we saved on storage. Although legal ambiguity is widespread, most of this results from the use large words with few spaces.

Once we were able to scale down the size of the container, our next  challenge was to make the structure sturdy enough to restrain outbursts of non-sequiturs polluting an otherwise accurate search. The following photo shows our team precisely adjusting the containment panels:

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Phrase extraction tanks

These amazing tanks hold all of the known legal phrases in a suspension from which meaning can be extracted through the use of solar energy and fresh air.

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They require large blower fans to push the air to release the meaning:

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Inside the JADE Search Engine

Many of our users ask how the JADE magic occurs. Our JADE legal research platform uses the latest technologies to bring you the information you need.

Here are some never before seen photos of our next generation search engine. But first, let us show you how far we have come.

The first generation legal search system

You will be familiar with first generation legal search systems. You may have used them to undertake Australian legal research back in the late 1990s. Few people know how they work. For most people, they do not work very well. When we were trying to understand how to improve legal research, we developed a few prototypes of these early systems. You can see from the photo below how they were plainly insufficient for the needs of the modern legal professional researcher.

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Our first generation central retrieval governor http://hdl.lov.gov.pnp/hhh.ny1231/photos/123261p.

As the speed of research increased, the wheel to the left overheated and caused the retrieval system to over retrieve irrelevant information. Then it caught fire and this photo is all we have left of that fateful research experiment.

The JADE Next Generation Search Engine

Who says that technological advances cannot also look good on the outside? In the past years, we have invested heavily in improving all aspects of JADE.

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The JADE Next Generation Research Hub
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.ca3437/photos.365426p

 

Forthcoming features in JADE 6.3 (Build 954)

About JADE 6.3

The JADE legal research team is reaching a new milestone: our 1,000th release. Leading up to this big event, we are releasing a number of new features. In JADE 6.3 (Build 954) we will feature the following:

  1. Improved search connectors. Use any search connector from any search engine and it will work. We are working on a separate post to show you the power of the new connectors, including some unique ones added by JADE. Many of our improved search connectors are available to all users. However, we would really love you to become a JADE professional user. Your support as a professional user is what powers our further development of JADE.
  2. Phrase in context display and searching. With this feature, you will be able to see at a glance words and phrases which our cyborgs editors have identified as significant and find other case law and legislative materials with similar words or phrases used in the same or similar context. Sounds bland, but our beta testers have been more excited than we have seen them for a long while. So excited that we brought forward the release. Phrase in context is only available to JADE professional users.
  3. Improvements to visualisation. We have simplified some of the visualisation features. These visualisation features are available only to JADE professional users.
  4. Lots of underlying changes to make the magic happen as quickly as you have come to expect. This required re-engineering and lots of amazing computational gymnastics. Our whiteboard has seen some intensive battles between competing algorithms and passionate statisticians.
  5. More extensive updates to legislation and new case law. Stay tuned for more details about these.

There’s much more to report. We will do it when we reach the next release.

About the JADE release schedules

We release between two and six builds per week. When we are making changes, we frequently release about ten builds. Not all builds contain user-facing features. Much of what we do is to improve JADE from the inside and to prepare our systems for important updates. For each important update, we increment the minor number. In recent times:

  • JADE 6.1 contained amazing new document management features, including filters, navigation tools, and many UI enhancements. We updated our API to power JADE.WORLD.
  • JADE 6.2 contained a complete overhaul and improvement of our search systems, including better highlighting and distributed search. It also contained a number of UI refinements.
  • JADE 6.3 contains phrase in context (building extensively upon the foundation laid by JADE 6.1 and 6.2). As you’d expect, it contained a number of UI enhancements and improvements to visualisation. We did a huge amount of re-engineering of the underlying systems to make unnecessary complexity hidden from our research-hungry legal professionals.