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Knowing the ins and outs of how other courtroom players think is a key ingredient in successful litigation. Here’s how to do it.
Begin with Social Media
When researching other lawyers, jurors, or judges, start with social media. Facebook and Twitter have their own advanced search features. You can also try Topsy or TwimeMachine, which include tweets deleted from Twitter. You can even set up a Hootsuite dashboard to monitor Twitter feeds and send alerts.
Social media aggregate searchers can save the time of searching each social media site independently. These include Spock, Pipl, and PeekYou. Spock is my personal favorite. In my experience, it is the most accurate and displays your results in an easy-to-read chart.
Tools for Researching Judges and Other Lawyers
To research opposing counsel, use Martindale-Hubbell to get the basics. A simple search will tell you what university or law school the opposing counsel attended and their date admitted.
The LexisNexis Litigation Profile Suite takes this to another level.
LexisNexis’s Litigation Profile Suite goes beyond a judge’s education with links to opinions, judgments, and even a nifty pie chart of cases by resolution. Litigation Profile Suite also holds information about lawyers and expert witnesses like:
- Links to cases
- The number of cases in each jurisdiction
- The average duration of cases
- Links to briefs, motions, and pleadings
- Links to other related documents
Tools for Researching the Public
LexisNexis also has two extensive search engines for searching beyond the legal profession.
You can use Boolean logic or a search form to sift through billions of public records that generate easy-to-read reports and flag potential issues, such as a pending lawsuit, an atypical address, or a Social Security number being used by more than one person. From something as simple as names and addresses to unpublished phone numbers and property records, you can save your search for automatic updates when new and relevant documents become available.
Drawing from the same vast database of more than 45 billion records from more than 10,000 distinct sources, Accurint for Legal Professionals runs several deep reports on people and businesses.
I do not know why these are listed as two separate features on the LexisNexis website since they draw from the same databases. The primary differences lie merely in how you want reports customized.
TLO for Legal Professionals offers a competitive alternative to LexisNexis. Prior to founding TLO, Hank Asher also invented Accurint — LexisNexis’s people search — and other earlier generation products. Using algorithms, TLO generates customizable reports linking structured and unstructured data on bankruptcies, foreclosures, liens, judgments, assets, unlisted phones, and utilities data. In addition to the breadth of information in a single easy-to-use platform, TLO offers free trials so you can try out the research tools.
Although a number of juror selection apps exist to organize information during jury selection and trial, iJuror also provides a search function. In addition to providing tools to quickly record juror information, color-code the jurors, and record questions, iJuror’s social media search function allows you to search a juror on Spokeo, Pipl, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Google. This feature come in handy when researching or updating information of seated jurors for reference during trial.
Cool and Creepy Research Tools
Crystal is by far the most intriguing Internet research resource I have encountered. Its proprietary personality detection technology provides insight into the most effective ways to communicate with each person based on their online presence. To put it simply, Crystal is psychic.
Using public information from across the web, Crystal assigns each person to one of 64 different personality types. Crystal’s profiles provide one sentence about communication style then provides best practices on communicating, emailing, and working with that person.
While the initial version is an email tool primarily intended for communication with colleagues, Crystal’s founder Drew D’Agostino says the technology has potential for proving useful in a number of other ways.
It can be helpful to know what language would be most effective while negotiating a settlement or if a juror is more driven by logic or emotion. Crystal even provides glimmers of each person’s sense of humor and examples of words that may be most effective.
As psychic as Crystal seems, it’s algorithms are not fool-proof. People are not always as their online personas seem.
Persado is another program that expands on this technology. Persado uses significant in-market analysis, psychological research, and millions of in-market interactions to classify emotional words and phrases into nineteen categories. By pinpointing certain criteria to make the writing more actionable and engaging, Persado optimizes the words and phrases in messages to be the most persuasive for a given target audience. The unique linguistic attribution dashboard even shows the relative impact of specific words and phrases.
Persado recently announced the expansion of its self-service Persuasion Automation product Persado Go. Persado Go is a self-service solution created for email which instantly maximizes the persuasiveness of digital communications designed to drive action through Persado Go’s easy-to-use software interface.
If Persado Go can write persuasively for fashion, financial services, gaming, retail, technology, and more then the same premise should apply to lawyers. Theoretically, similar algorithms could increase the effectiveness of legal writing or at least decrease the workload of many lawyers.
Then again, if robots can master the art of persuasion, would there still be a need for lawyers?
Featured image: “Online Research Representing World Wide Web And Website” from Shutterstock.