‘Hello, is it me you’re looking for?’ – Legal Search, Relevance and Credibility

‘Hello, is it me you’re looking for?’ – Legal Search, Relevance and Credibility

Better legal search resources will inevitably result in a better service for clients; less time spent looking for answers and more time advising and acting.

At its core the criterion for a good search tool is: a product that can produce increasingly relevant and personalised results from credible and trusted sources. As outlined in our article Legal search: what does the future hold?, the difficulty for many within the legal field is the ability to find a single search source that can direct them to the information they need and provide credibility as well as relevance.

Whilst Google is able to meet the demand for relevant and personalised results (see the Knowledge graph) it can fall short of consistently delivering verifiably credible sources; relevance does not always equal trustworthiness. Conversely, many legal databases have hundreds of years of experience and credibility behind them; what they often lack is the technology to provide satisfactory personalised search results, hence a view that sometimes Google is ‘easier’ to use. Using Lexis®Library as an example, products such as Halsbury’s Laws of England and Simon’s Taxes are well known and trusted products within the legal and tax fields, what customers need in addition to this credibility is a search experience that is relevant to them; an increasingly personalised experience.

There can be challenges to developing a resource that is able to deliver both relevant and credible search results. Looking at ‘Google-bombing’ for instance; this is an example of the limitation of developers to control the credibility of their search results whilst still prioritising relevance. Skilled users are able to manipulate the Google algorithm to promote their preferred search result to a higher ranking position on the results page, the most notable example being the top search result fo

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