Relax and let CARA do the work
What is CARA?
Judges have clerks. Law professors have research assistants. Now, you, too, can have your own research assistant: one whose work takes seconds, not hours or days, to complete.
Innovative legal research service Casetext recently launched CARA (short for Case Analysis Research Assistant) to help lawyers find more relevant cases, faster. To use CARA, you don’t enter a boolean or natural language search. Instead, you simply upload a brief—either your draft brief or your opponent’s filed brief—and let CARA do its (her?) thing.
CARA’s “thing” is finding relevant cases that aren’t cited in a brief (or other legal document). When you upload one of your draft briefs to CARA, the results can serve as a quality-control check to help ensure that you’ve unearthed all relevant cases. When you upload your opponent’s brief, CARA’s results can help you jump start your research by surfacing relevant cases that your opponent didn’t find—or just didn’t want you (and the court) to see.
It generally takes CARA 10–15 seconds to analyze a brief. Don’t worry if your brief isn’t perfect: CARA can recognize citations even if they’re not in Bluebook form. CARA can process Word or pdf documents (it can process scanned pdfs only if they’re text-searchable, which means you should OCR a scanned pdf before uploading it). Documents you upload to CARA are encrypted, processed, and then deleted.
CARA’s results are sorted in order of relevance. For each case CARA identifies, Casetext displays the name and citation; the top Summaries from Subsequent Cases result; the top key passage; and the top Insights result.
Casetext tested CARA in two stages. In the first stage, using cases chosen at random on PACER, they ran the opening brief through CARA and checked the results against the cases cited in the opposition brief; ran the opposition brief through CARA and checked the results against the cases cited in the reply brief; and checked all of the briefs against the cases cited in the opinion.
In the second stage, they ran briefs in randomly-selected ongoing federal cases through CARA, and asked the lawyers who wrote the briefs whether they found the top five cases that CARA identified cases to be helpful. The responses generally fell into two categories. For some of the cases, lawyers said that they were aware of the case, but had chosen not to cite it. This confirmed that CARA was finding relevant cases. For other cases, lawyers reported that, not only were they relevant to the issues in the brief, they often provided stronger support for their position than some of the cases cited in their briefs. These are the situations where CARA has the biggest impact.
Casetext found that the top 30 cases that CARA identified were generally relevant, but that relevance quickly decreased as the number of searched results exceeded that number.
As of this writing, anyone can test-drive CARA for free on Casetext’s website, as part of a two-week free trial of Casetext Pro. Casetext’s CEO, Jake Heller, explained that CARA’s pricing is currently determined on a customer-by-customer basis, and that it’s primarily based on the number of litigators in the firm. Pricing is particularly attractive for early adopters.