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Graham Digby explains how intelligent search is crucial for the future of legal research.
“The word 'search' is a negative word. It fairly reeks of loss and effort” says James Whittaker, former Googler and technology executive, in his blog Why I hate search. Over the past few years, LexisNexis has had a huge focus on search and has been looking at ways to reduce the effort on the part of our users; specifically looking into how our users’ search behaviour has changed. Historically legal research was conducted by a few trained individuals in a law firm, searching through legal “databases”. All of the “search intelligence” resided in the user creating the Boolean queries that would return the best results.
Now our users are far higher in number, more demanding and they need the applications and content they use to be smarter. It is on us, not the user now, to make search as quick and as painless as possible – to get them the information and answers they need. To meet this challenge we have an ever-growing suite of tools and techniques that we use to add value.
It starts with the user
No task that involves searching starts with a set of search terms and ends with a set of results. If a user wants to find out if a case cited in a document has had any negative treatment rather than searching for the case and its status, why not run the check in MS Word? If the input for a trainee’s research task is an emailed request for information, the intelligence can start in Outlook picking out relevant information and starting the research process for the user without them having to think what the search terms are. Understanding the workflows, inputs and desired outputs that form a
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