The bad boys of legal research, Ed Walters and Phil Rosenthal of Fastcase, are once again looking at unique ways to look at legal information and create new methods to cull that information. In the latest iteration, they have come up with a way to use an algorithm to identify court cases with negative treatment. They are calling this enhancement, “Bad Law Bot”, not to be confused with J.J. Abram’s movie production studio called Bad Robot.
The idea of algorithmically setting up a way to identify ‘bad law’ has been floating around since the idea of placing legal decisions in database began. When I was at the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s OSCN.NET, we dreamed of doing exactly this same type of identification of bad law, but simply did not have the technology, expertise, or guts to take on that challenge. Looks like Walters and Rosenthal are stepping up to the plate to take a swing at it.
Ed does list a couple of caveats, that should be expected when you use technology to replace humans on decision making processes like this:
- It’s an algorithm… thus the “bot” name
- If you see that Bad Law Bot has presented negative treatment, then that means there’s a good chance the case has probably been overturned, however if Bad Law Bot doesn’t show negative treatment, that doesn’t necessarily mean the case is ‘good’ law. You should double-check with Shepards or KeyCite.