A Law Student’s Experience Using Casetext - Part 2: Using CARA

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This post is my second in a series about Casetext. If you didn’t get a chance to read my first post, check it out here.

In this post, I discuss my experience using Casetext’s Case Analysis Research Assistant (CARA). CARA is an artificial intelligence research tool that examines a brief, complaint, or memo you’ve uploaded and returns case results that are based on the same facts, legal issue, and jurisdiction.

Overview of CARA

Although there are FAQs available on how to use CARA, I found using the CARA search to be intuitive. Once you’re on the home page of Casetext, you have the option to upload your complaint, brief, or motion simply by clicking on “CARA Search.” Acceptable document formats include PDFs, Word docs, or text files. After your document is uploaded, you then enter your keywords to search for cases.

Uploading Documents with Case Citations

Once I had familiarized myself with CARA, I wanted to put this A.I. search to the test. I selected a lengthy motion to suppress that I had prepared during my work as a certified law student in the Youth Justice Clinic this past semester. I spent hours conducting case law research, so I was curious to see how quickly CARA would be able to supplement my research.

Uploading my document took less than a minute, and I used the keywords “juvenile /p custody.” Nearly 1,000 results appeared, and among the top results were many of the same cases that I had cited in my brief. To hide these cases, I filtered the results to exclude what I had already cited by using the “Hide Cited Authorities” button. This feature allows you to exclude cases you’re already cited in your brief or complaint.

I filtered my results to cases that were decided after 2015 in North Carolina Courts, and I got nearly 541 results. This was a little overwhelming, and I had to extensively filter by “Cause of Action” and “Motion Type” to narrow the results. Of course, not every case that appeared within the results was on point, but many of them expanded upon the issues that I had cited in my motion. I saw several cases that would supplement the existing cases in my motion.

I wanted to see how the results I found compared to a keyword case search on Westlaw or Lexis alone.  A quick search showed vast differences in the names and ordering of the cases that appeared in the search results.  Despite these different case results, the subject matter of the cases was fairly similar across the legal databases. However, as for finding cases that had the most similar factual issues to those in my motion, Casetext’s results were the best.

In contrast to the hours that I had spent researching and writing this motion originally, I was able to spend less than fifteen minutes finding the relevant case law for my topic with a completed document filled with case citations and CARA’s help. I can see this tool being useful for law students and litigators alike, since it is a quick way to make sure no important cases have gone uncited.

Uploading Documents without Case Citations

After testing out how CARA works with documents that have case citations, I wanted to see if CARA would work just as well if I uploaded a document without case citations.

To test this out, I uploaded a section of my privacy seminar paper. I entered the keyword search “‘public records’ /p stalking” and filtered to cases from 2015 to receive 66 results. Compared to Westlaw and Lexis, the results were not relevant to one another. While there was a great deal of overlap between the results in Westlaw and Lexis, there was no overlap at all with Casetext.

Examining the cases that appeared in my search results on Casetext further also revealed that many of the results were either irrelevant or unhelpful to my paper.

I knew going in to this test that CARA’s true powerhouse was finding relevant cases from the ones already cited in a document, so it was not surprising that the case results were not on par with the case search results I had received from uploading a document full of citations. From this experience, I would not recommend using CARA unless you have case citations in your document.

But what about the privacy of your document contents?

Although Casetext claims that it has “bank level security” and has passed the test of several privacy conscious firms, I was skeptical of the claim that Casetext actually gets rid of the documents you upload into CARA. 

To learn more about what data Casetext collects, I explored their privacy policy. Included in the information that they collect and store are “search terms you submit to [their] website.” Casetext states that they will use this information for limited purposes, such as increasing their “[s]ervice’s functionality and user-friendliness,” and they will not sell any information to a third party. This explanation did not completely alleviate my concerns.

Because Casetext is designed with litigators in mind, they will likely be uploading documents that contain deeply personal information about their clients. The combination of these documents and the search terms collected could reveal more than one might think if they were to be able to hack into CARA or if the documents were somehow retained. 

I was curious to see how CARA would work if I just uploaded a document of cases to better accommodate these privacy concerns. To test my theory, I uploaded a page of my family law notes with just case citations and the keyword search “right to privacy” filtering the cases to those that had been decided since 2015 in the United States Supreme Court. The facts and subject matter of the cases matched exactly what I was looking for.   I did a quick comparison to Westlaw and Lexis and was impressed with the results. Each database yielded the same set of 5-6 cases.

Because of my success with this strategy, I would recommend it to anyone else who has privacy concerns about uploading their full legal document to Casetext.

Conclusion

Although I had heard good things about CARA A.I., my experience using the search tool exceeded expectations. As someone who’s about to graduate from law school, I can see this as something that will be helpful to me early in my legal career, so I can ensure that I’m not overlooking a relevant case that could be critical to the outcome of my trial.

To my fellow law students, I highly recommend checking out Casetext’s CARA! You can sign up for an academic subscription, and it could save you some valuable time as you tackle that end of semester paper.


Posted by Jasmine Plott on Tue. April 30, 2019 1:00 PM
Categories: Uncategorized


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