Fact & Issue Finder, the latest in legal research tech from LexisNexis, has already been well-received by the industry, bringing home a LegalTech Breakthrough Legal Search Solution of the Year Award for the company just months after its mid-year launch.
What sets Fact & Issue Finder apart? The key difference between Fact & Issue Finder and its competitors, says product manager and former California litigator Mark Koussa, is in the philosophical foundation of the product: this is practice area-specific litigation research software designed by and for modern attorneys, allowing them to conduct research that would once take days or hours in a matter of minutes.
Legal Research Like You’ve Never Seen It Before
The process for building Fact & Issue Finder began with a massive survey that utilized quantitative questionnaires, qualitative interviews, and feature tests. The survey results, which ultimately drew from over a thousand respondents, revealed a series of common pain points that provided the initial guidance for the project that became Fact & Issue Finder.
“We wanted to undertake a deeper dive than had ever been done to understand the role that Lexis and research platforms in general play in the entirety of a litigation professional’s work,” says Koussa. “We wanted to take a look at the entirety of the workflow.”
Importantly, however, the LexisNexis team didn’t stop at reviewing the survey results. They sought to dig deeper, using the survey results as a launching pad to explore what would truly change legal research.
“There’s a Henry Ford quote that I think is really relevant here,” Koussa adds. “He said if he asked people what they wanted before he built the car, they would’ve said a faster horse. Now, the beauty in that is that it doesn’t mean ‘ignore what your customers are saying.’ It means that if you truly, deeply understand what they need, then you can deliver something truly transformative for them.”
“[Fact & Issue Finder] is a significant and unique step forward in legal research — a car when others are building faster horses.”
Fusing AI and Human-Assisted Search
While big ideas laid the groundwork for the final product, the truly transformative aspect of Fact & Issue Finder is best embodied by the program’s thorough, user-friendly research capabilities.
Starting from the Fact & Issue Finder search box, attorneys tasked with litigation research can quickly narrow their search by specific practice area, facts, issues, and jurisdiction.
Plus, if a researcher is stumped on how to refine or even start a search, Fact & Issue Finder has more than just its AI-assisted arsenal to get things moving — there’s a human factor at play as well.
During development, a team of LexisNexis taxonomists narrowed in on over 6,000 topics across six major practice areas and created automatically-generated search queries tailored to those topics in natural language, as opposed to the boolean-based queries historically used by litigation research tools.
“Topical searching is becoming more and more common, and the younger generation in particular is used to it with Google and Amazon and things like that,” says Koussa. “We went to our taxonomy team and we said, we need topics that [users] can be given that’ll automatically obtain highly precise searches.”
“They went through and built out queries that would yield highly precise results across every single one of those topics,” says Koussa. “We then layer on artificial intelligence technology via embeddings to get users to those specific topics.”
As a search becomes increasingly narrow, Fact & Issue Finder’s AI-based “no-fail searching” feature will kick in, eliminating any particular term in a query that would have caused the results from any content category to come up empty and running the search without that extra term.
What exactly does that mean? Put simply, with “no-fail searching,” users can add as many facts or issues as they need to get the most relevant results — all without wasting time on searches that would yield no results.
Robust, Complete Results
Fact & Issue Finder offers a uniquely robust results page as well.
After entering a query, researchers are presented with their results on a search overview page that displays everything from available case law to records of past settlements and potential expert witnesses. Depending on the practice area, the results might also include a wide range of information gathered from the broader LexisNexis platform, including scientific journals and administrative materials.
From here, users can further narrow down their results with the Additional Facts or Issues feature, which also implements no-fail searching to get into the minute details of a search without wasting time on zero-result searches while continuing to ensure no stone goes unturned.
“The product team wanted to bring back to the forefront the expertise of litigators as litigators instead of their expertise as Lexis users or users of a legal research tool,” adds Fact & Issue Finder product manager Deepank Varshney.
The goal throughout the search process, according to Koussa and Varshney, is to shift the bulk of the research burden onto LexisNexis and Fact & Issue Finder, with the ultimate result being that attorneys can spend their time making decisions based on the information made available to them rather than crafting a series of ultra-specific searches.