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4 Legal Research Tools for 2020

 A lot has changed over the last 20 years. A couple of decades ago smartphones weren’t so smart, social media didn’t run our lives and quite simply we relied significantly less on technology.  Our day to day lives and how everyone ran their businesses was necessarily slower. 

Not anymore. We live in an era where we have access to huge amounts of data at the click of a button. Need to find out something? Fire up your browser or talk to your phone, and you’ll have an answer in seconds.

This accessibility to information has made it possible for smaller law firms to be significantly more efficient in the process of preparing cases. You are no longer limited by the size of your staff to find and stay up to date on the information you need. 

This article will go over 4 legal research tools that can help you conduct your legal research more efficiently and cost-effectively in 2020.

Casetext: An efficient and user-friendly legal database research tool

Casetext is a web-based legal research tool that separates itself from LexisNexis and Westlaw by focusing on accuracy, a friendly user interface and competitive pricing. 

One of the biggest problems when conducting case research is the massive amount of information that you have to filter through and the fact that some critical information can be hard to find. Casetext aims to solve this by having an advanced search engine that helps you filter out the useful information from the noise. 

  • It helps you find the information you need by flagging bad-law cases, easy to use labels and case summaries that are written by judges.
  • Its database covers federal case law, 50 state case law (published and unpublished cases). Also statutes, regulations, administrative agency decisions, federal briefs and really too many things to list here.
  • Gives you access to CARA AI, an artificial intelligence search tool that makes finding case information quicker by feeding it the documents you are working on. 

From the Casetext blog: How Firms Can Introduce Efficiency to Retain Clients After Covid-19

FactBox: Web-based fact management tool for litigators

Fact management is one of the most cumbersome elements of litigation cases. The sheer amount of information that needs to be collected, cataloged and shared makes this a very work-intensive process. With the increase of digitization in evidence collecting came the need to find a better way to keep track of everything. This led to the creation of fact management tools like FactBox. 

FactBox is a web-based tool that makes the most out of the app’s ability to have an effective case flow. 

  • It has a label management tool that helps you categorize facts and ideas so you can start or build a case as new information is available. 
  • It helps you sort, filter and build fact clusters so that you can analyze cases from different perspectives and make new connections. 
  • Easily generates reports that can be shared with clients and other stakeholders. 
  • FactBox takes a comprehensive approach to data security. It stores client data in physically secure facilities that require 2-factor access, biometric readers and is protected by armed guards. 
  • Additionally, FactBox employees are under constant monitoring to make sure that they don’t have any access to any customer data. 

From the FactBox blog: Making of a Public Case: Syed, FactBox and Syed’s Lawyer

CourtTrax: Real-time court data

Being able to keep up with what’s going on in federal and state courts is incredibly important for law firms. This used to be only available to firms that had the manpower and budget to constantly collect the information. Now, there are services like CourtTrax that allow smaller firms the same advantages. 

CourtTrax collects its data directly from the courts themselves. This ensures that they have the most recent and accurate information available. 

  • It doesn’t rely on big-data warehouses so gather the court data. This guarantees the integrity of the information. 
  • Courts typically have their reporting systems and structures. CourtTrax builds standardized reports that allow you to access the retrieved information regularly. 
  • It features a simple point-and-click interface that doesn’t require any training and makes adopting the service easy. 
  • It has several methods to access the data including a web-based platform, automated bulk data feeds and a soon-to-be-launched mobile app. 
  • The pricing is based on a completed search basis. You only pay for the information that you want, no monthly or membership fees. Most searches are priced between $1 and $3 per result. 

From the CourtTrax blog: Courts Nationwide Provided Guidance on Handling a Pandemic

Tracers: Cloud-based personal and public record research

Tracers is an online tool that allows you to quickly and easily have access to public records so that you can find the information you need to build a case. 

This tool is used by a variety of industries ranging from law enforcement, background screening, insurance and any other industry that needs access to public records. 

Tracers has a suite of tools specifically aimed at legal professionals. They aim to help you build a more complete case. Here are some of this tool’s key benefits:

  • It can help uncover address history search and employment history. This can be a great way to complement what is provided to you when you start a case. 
  • In situations where there is not a significant amount of physical evidence, connections can become critical to building a case. Tracers helps to find records that prove connections between subjects quickly. 
  • As it often happens in criminal cases, there are bound to be people involved who don’t want to be found or contacted. Tracers’ skip tracing features assists in locating hard to find witnesses.
  • As either a way to make sure you take the necessary security measures for your firm or in case there is reason to suspect false information, it’s useful to confirm and verify identities. Tracers helps you get the records so that you can tell who’s telling the truth from who isn’t.
  • It maintains updated records that make getting the most recent information easy.

From the Tracer’s blog: 4 Types of Data That Will Help You Build Better Cases and Handle More Clients 

Use tools to improve your practice

There’s never been more data available to us than now. As you probably noticed, the one thing all of these research tools have in common is the ability to help you separate the useful from the useless. 

Most of these tools are affordably priced or have free trials available so you can try them out in your law firm and see for yourself the time and cost savings they can bring you. Get started with Tracers risk free!