Neural Nets Upgrade Legal Research

For BYU Law’s “Future of Law” Forum on Wednesday, November 9, 2022, we welcomed Pablo Arrendondo, cofounder and chief innovation officer of Casetext, a technology platform applying artificial intelligence (AI) to legal research. Arrendondo, a graduate of Stanford Law School, grew frustrated with the “keyword prison” of Lexis and Westlaw and became determined to find a means of better harnessing the flexibility and power of modern computing to improve legal research. Casetext, the company Arrendondo founded with a partner in 2013, marries supercomputing technology with legal research. “Neural nets” perform “linguistic calisthenics” without human bias, combing the entire common law with “trained” AI algorithms. Search results are generated faster, and they’re better. Users search with complete sentences that yield more precise results than the overinclusive (cumbersome!) and underinclusive (risky!) Lexis and Westlaw output. Working from a curated-in-seconds collection of on-point authorities, a litigator might wonder in amazement, “How did this happen?” Alas, knowing “how” is impossible— this is what Arrendondo calls the “Black Box”—there is no way to really know how the AI produced search results. Still, the availability of this advanced technology (commonplace in the e-commerce and entertainment sectors) to the legal profession is welcome.

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