Case Genie, built by 67 Bricks for ICLR, is an AI-powered search tool using programmed intuition to revolutionise case building by surfacing the ‘unknown unknowns’.
Tell us about your organization
This entry is submitted with the support of the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales (ICLR). As well as the official Law Reports, ICLR publishes The Weekly Law Reports, The Industrial Cases Reports, The Business Law Reports, The Public and Third Sector Law Reports and the Consolidated Index to leading law reports. ICLR was established in 1865 by members of the legal profession and its mission is as important today as ever and explains why they are universally regarded as the most authoritative source of English case law.
What is the project/product that you submitted for the Awards?
As an increasing amount of legal case law is moved online, the question for barristers, law students and solicitors is ‘how do I find the cases I need that I don’t know about’? Enter Case Genie. Case Genie represents a real evolution to the way legal cases are constructed - taking the valuable database of case reports held by ICLR and creating a way to search for relevant cases quickly and intelligently. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the form of Natural Language Processing (NLP) to analyse a user’s own document in order to identify the legal concepts and issues in it, the search tool then uses programmed intuition to suggest relevant cases from the ICLR database. Early results have been extremely positive and Case Genie has been named “a potential game-changer” by users.
Tell us a little about how it works and the team behind it
its Case Reports and Indices available online over a decade ago. ICLR.4 makes
it easy to see which important cases have been Affirmed or Overruled (there
are, in fact, seventeen variations on these!). The contents of the Case Reports
can also be searched, and this has been an important resource for judges,
barristers, solicitors and magistrates.
What Case Genie adds to this, is the ability to prime the standard search with a starting document. As part of preparing a case, solicitors and barristers create formal legal documents (such as skeleton arguments) that summarise the case and its arguments. Such documents can be uploaded to ICLR.4, either whole or selected extracts, to find existing cases that are conceptually similar. These similar cases can be further expanded to include linked cases (important cases that cite or are cited by the similar cases). The results of these can be filtered using more traditional search facilities in ICLR.4. The aim is to help the lawyer find cases that they might not otherwise have considered.
In addition, Case Genie finds cases cited in the uploaded document and lists them with their subsequent treatment (Approved/Overruled etc). This can save the lawyer significant time.
to those, Case Genie facilitates finding similar paragraphs. When reading the
judgment section of a Case Report, the user can click on a paragraph to find
paragraphs from other judgments that are conceptually similar.
The team behind the tool is made up of both software developers and publishing consultants, who worked deeply with ICLR to really understand customer needs. Feedback from users was that the site’s search functionality was great when you knew what you were looking for, but the experience of finding content when you didn’t know where to start was much harder. We set about testing ideas and technical approaches to help users find ‘unknown unknowns’ when they were working in unfamiliar areas. After lots of iteration and validation, we settled on the ML/NLP approach as a way to leverage all of the valuable data and editorial content ICLR has to make relevant content more accessible to users.
In what ways do you think it demonstrates innovation?
There are several
layers to this. Firstly, the tool uses unsupervised learning, which is crucial
for avoiding bias in the output. Supervised learning
uses example data that teach the ML algorithm how to predict a given outcome,
which has all of the pitfalls of bias. Usually, the data have come from
real-world decisions made by people, so it embodies the biases of those
decisions. Unsupervised learning, however, is not based on previous human
decisions. The models created by unsupervised learning map connections between
data, but do not try to predict a specific variable. Case Genie uses
unsupervised Machine Learning to build document embeddings for each Case Report
and judgment transcript. The only biases it embodies are those of the judges in
their language (but not their verdict or sentence), which are actually what we
are most interested in! Language use changes over time, so two cases from a
specific period are more likely to have high similarity if they cover similar
topics. This is beneficial because it means more recent cases are likely to
match new case material; whereas important, older cases will still surface in
the results when added as linked results. The goal of using NLP and ML in this
project is to surface surprising cases. We have worked very closely with ICLR
to validate the results of Case Genie, because it requires a very high level of
domain knowledge to determine whether a result is a surprising but good result;
or just noise.
have also had to work in new ways to ensure data privacy, as this was a very
important aspect of the development for ICLR. The architecture of ICLR.4 is
therefore built around the need to secure sensitive legal information in
ongoing cases. Uploaded document data and information derived from it is never
stored unencrypted. Two keys are required to unencrypt the data, one is stored
in the system database and is unique for each user; the other is transient and
created by the user’s browser for each user session. As soon as the original
document has been processed, it is deleted. Derived ephemeral documents are
deleted as soon as the initial processing pipeline has completed. The remaining
data, required to show the user the results of the processing, is available
only for the duration of the user’s session. For example, if they close their
browser and use a fresh log-in, they will not be able to access their own
the tool has enabled ICLR to innovate on their own business models. Case Genie
has switched the customer focus for ICLR from bigger institutions to smaller or
even individual users, providing additional value and expanding the potential
for ICLR to find new revenue streams in the future. This advances ICLR’s
mission to make case law accessible by supporting access for individual users.
As well as access, the tool also makes it easier for single individuals to
build a case using whatever resources they currently have since the heavy
lifting of searching for relevant cases is done automatically.
What are your plans for the future?
have built the system with ongoing scale and development in mind. We have
created a processing pipeline that is secure, can be built upon and is
scalable. Scalability is essential for a system like this because NLP can be
very processor intensive. We also have some large data indices that sit in
memory so that they are blisteringly fast. We adapted the architecture to fit
the changing needs as the system was built. The end result is that the system
can easily be scaled out to support a larger number of users and new use cases
for the machine learning model.
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Will Bailey, Head of Partnerships, 67 Bricks
Rhys Parsons, Technical Lead, 67 Bricks