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.

Our first generation central retrieval governor

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.


The JADE Next Generation Research Hub


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.

Commemorating the Magna Carta — Textual Interpretation — Collecting our heritage on JADE

The influence of the Magna Carta can be seen in everything we do in the practise of law, including the importance of legal research and how we use precedent as the principled and consistent application of law in our democratic society.

The Magna Carta illustrates the importance of the written text in our society and how that text can be taken many centuries later and linked to a document which came to represent our modern concept of liberty — the Bill of Rights. Our expectation (and training) is that the law is a textual tradition. Written and preserved for future generations.

In our digital age, we run the risk of losing sight of many important pre-digital texts and overlooking their importance. We run the risk of muting and thereafter forgetting the voice of earlier scholarship.

The JADE team wants to use the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta to encourage preservation of legal scholarship and its wide availability. Please join us by nominating your most important works of legal scholarship since Magna Carta. You may nominate as many works as you like. We will then publish the list and produce a list of the top 800 titles.

Send your suggestions by visiting: or by sending an email to

Duncan v the State of NSW; NuCoal Resources Ltd v the State of NSW [2015] HCA 13

Duncan v New South Wales;
NuCoal Resources Limited v New South Wales;
Cascade Coal Pty Limited v New South Wales

Duncan v New South Wales [2015] HCA 13 (15 April 2015) (FRENCH CJ, HAYNE, KIEFEL, BELL, GAGELER, KEANE AND NETTLE JJ)
Available in easy reading JADE format: BarNet_JADE_Duncan_NSW_2015_HCA_13