Doing legal research is kind of clunky, when you think about it. Finding relevant cases means translating a legal issue into a search query that produces a manageable list of cases on point. This is hard enough that customers have been hiring ROSS to translate lawyers’ clumsy search queries into relevant results.
A Legal Research Shortcut
CARA, a new tool from Casetext, aims to just cut out the searching. Just upload a brief and CARA will give you a list of cases to review, including summaries, key passages, and insights from other lawyers.
No searching necessary.
Documents you upload are encrypted, processed, and deleted immediately after processing. CARA only retains an identifier tied to a thumbnail image and a list of cases.
The results don’t include cases cited the brief. Instead, CARA analyzes the citations and the text of the brief to find other relevant cases.
I’d like to have the option to pull up cases cited in the brief, as well, to make it easy to pull up the cases you are sure to need to review. That wouldn’t be all that useful if you upload your own brief, but it would be helpful when you are using CARA to research your opponent’s argument.
A New Standard for Researching Case Law?
The idea of uploading your brief to start your research isn’t entirely new, but CARA seems to be the only tool focused on recommending cases based on a holistic analysis of your document. For example, you can upload a brief to Westlaw to Shepardize the citations in it. But CARA does more than just look at citations; it analyzes the brief to home in on possibly relevant decisions.
Casetext imagines that one day it may be considered malpractice not to use a tool like CARA to check your work. And if you could jump-start your research or check your work for omissions just by dragging and dropping your brief into your browser, why wouldn’t you?
CARA isn’t likely to replace “regular” legal research any time soon, but it could be a powerful—perhaps even essential—supplemental tool.
How to Try CARA
CARA is free to try (for now), but there are a few caveats:
- CARA does not have built-in OCR, so you must upload a Word document or a PDF with text information.
- Some older or heavily formatted Word documents might confuse CARA. Try printing to PDF and uploading if you run into any problems.
- If you don’t already have a CaseText account, you’ll need to sign up for one in order to try CARA.
Because CARA surfaces cases not cited in the document, you might want to try uploading briefs you are working on to see if you have missed anything important.
CARA is definitely still in development, so you can expect to see changes as Casetext refines it. Soon, CARA will probably be included in Casetext’s Pro-level features, which currently start at a not-for-everyone $149/user/month.
Want to learn more about Casetext and other online legal research tools? We have a portal for that.