Traditionally, large firms had the advantage with larger budgets and staff to take on bigger cases and more of them. Today, however, smaller firms are becoming a substantial threat and are leveling the playing field.
Smaller firms are doing this by remaining flexible, being more responsive to clients, and automating activities that clients aren’t willing to pay for. New legal technology, designed with artificial intelligence, is also making it possible for small firms to level the playing field. AI technology allows small firm attorneys to automate time consuming, repetitive tasks and to quickly collect and analyze large amounts of data that has typically been too cumbersome to gather manually with a small staff.
Westlaw Edge, the newest legal research platform using artificial intelligence, is quickly sweeping into small law firms across the nation and helping them be more competitive.
Effectively Develop a Winning Strategy
History tends to repeat itself. That’s why, to effectively develop case strategy, it’s important to know:
- How a judge has ruled on similar cases previously
- The average time to trial
- The tendencies of opposing counsel and if they are likely to settle
- How the jurisdiction has handled similar cases
- The motions that are granted most often and which ones are typically dismissed
It can take several hours and even days to compile this information manually, but Westlaw Edge Litigation Analytics provides data-driven insights on these topics and more within seconds. Furthermore, the data is presented in easy-to-read graphs and charts and you can easily drill down to get additional information.
“Litigation Analytics has definitely helped build strategy. Before Litigation Analytics, in order to find information on a specific attorney’s work product, for the same type of issue, it would take hours, says Alexandra Steel, an attorney with Girardi | Keese, a Los Angeles personal injury firm.
William Donovan, another Girardi|Keese attorney, concurs. “Litigation Analytics is incredibly helpful, especially when I walk into the courtroom with a judge my colleagues and I aren’t familiar with. To know what types of cases they’ve seen and what kinds of rulings they’ve made is a tremendous asset.”
Feeling Confident Your Research is Thorough and Complete
One of the worries that can keep lawyers awake at night is if they have based their argument on the most accurate law. The only way to ensure this is to research every citation that every law is based upon, because standard citators only flag cases that have been explicitly overruled. Of course, this is ridiculously time-consuming.
KeyCite Overruling Risk, however, is an entirely new class of citator that provides warnings when a point of law has been implicitly undermined based on its reliance on an overruled or otherwise invalid prior decision. Now, instead of having to research every case you’re citing to ensure it’s valid, you can save hours by simply looking for the orange KeyCite Overruling Risk icon in search results. Within the negative treatment tab, you’ll see links to cases that may have triggered the overruling risk icon, as well as cases they expressly overruled or abrogated.
“I’ve observed that it’s often not enough to click on the little yellow or red flag to see if a case has been addressed or negatively overruled,” explains Norm Pentelovitch, an attorney with Anthony Ostlund Baer and Louwagie, a Minneapolis litigation firm. “That’s because a rule doesn’t have a linear evolution. So you can get into trouble if you check on a case to see if it’s overruled and don’t expand your investigation more broadly. For instance, I found out, through doing deeper research, thanks to KeyCite Overruling Risk, that a state law had changed within the last two or three months. My opponent, however, relied on a standard citator, so they cited a series of cases that were no longer relevant.”
Reducing Time Spent on Repetitive Tasks
To build a strong case, you may think completing laborious, mundane work is a necessary evil. Consider comparing statutes – you can spend endless hours reading through multiple versions of a session law. Now, Westlaw Edge Statutes Compare does it for you. In a click, it will show you two versions of statutes and how they’ve changed. That gives you more time to focus on fine tuning your argument.
“The Statues Compare feature in Westlaw Edge is really helpful,” says Steele, “and it saves so much time when you’re looking at two statutes side by side – not having to do your own highlighting and underlining – and the differences pop out and are readily available. It saves a lot of headaches.”
Quickly Respond to Clients
Here’s a cringeworthy situation that happens all too often: You’re on the phone with a client and they ask you a question that you should know off the top of your head, but you’ve been overwhelmed and you can’t think of the correct answer or response. With Westlaw Edge WestSearch Plus, you can respond without missing a beat. As you start typing in a question into WestSearch Plus, the software’s typeahead feature will populate search options to save you time. Once you complete a search you will easily get an answer as the most relevant portion of the text, which answers your question, will automatically be displayed. You don’t have to review a full search results list to find it. It also links the underlying authority so you can dig deeper.
But the courtroom isn’t the only place where Westlaw Edge features are helping small law firms compete; in fact, it answers a final, important question:
How do I compete with Biglaw in the marketplace?
“Westlaw Edge makes it easier to be competitive with firms that have more resources.” Ryan Matthew Lawrence, Associate, Anthony Ostlund Baer & Louwagie.
And, Vince Louwagie, Partner of the same firm, shares that, “while bigger firms have more people and may have the same technology as we do, our research abilities and our ability to analyze situations is as good or better than any of them. With Westlaw Edge, the number of people that a firm assigns to a file isn’t determinative of research capability. In that way, Westlaw Edge evens the playing field. The value of Westlaw Edge is significant. The efficiencies we gain, the ability to deliver better product to the client more efficiently and expediently very much overshadows any cost.”
Experience for yourself how Westlaw Edge levels the playing field both inside and outside the courtroom. Sign up for your free trial today.
Amy Larson is a Director in Small Law Firm Customer Marketing at Thomson Reuters. She has over 17 years of experience in technology marketing with extensive focus on learning how technology can meet the needs of attorneys. Amy has been involved in numerous product launches throughout her tenure, public relations efforts, interviewing customers and telling their stories, and often writes and distributes information on how legal technology can help small law firms with their practice of law and law firm management responsibilities.