All litigators fear missing a critical case—it’s what keeps us up researching at 2:00 AM, trying one last search just to be safe. But how often does it actually happen? According to Casetext’s recent report, more often than you think. And when it does, it really makes a difference.
We surveyed over 100 federal and state judges and uncovered some pretty shocking statistics.
- Every single judge we surveyed said that they or their clerks have discovered relevant precedent that the parties before them missed.
- Over a quarter of the judges surveyed (27%) said that they or their clerks catch missing precedents the attorneys should have cited “most of the time” or “almost always.”
- More than two-thirds of the judges (68%) said that attorneys missing cases before them has materially impacted the outcome of a motion or proceeding.
According to the judiciary, attorneys are not researching as thoroughly as they seem to think they are. One judge commented that he would grade the overall quality of the research he sees a C+. Another told us, “Even excellent lawyers miss things, and sometimes it materially impacts the outcome.”
One reason even great lawyers are not so great at legal research? The tools they’re relying on are not set up to solve for this problem. That’s why attorneys—and the judiciary—are turning to new technology, like A.I., to help them find the most relevant cases, first.
In a post on the American Judges Association blog, Judge Kevin Burke says: “In a perfect world, litigants would cite to all relevant case law in their briefs. In the real world, litigants often do not. A new research tool, CARA [Casetext’s A.I. search technology] can help judges and their clerks quickly find important case law that the parties may have overlooked.” A recent study with the National Legal Research Group illustrated just how much A.I. can help: that researching with A.I. found 21% more relevant cases (and finished their research 25% faster) than attorneys using traditional search technology.
To learn more about the survey, you can download the report “The Prevalence of Missing Precedents” here.
If you’d like to try A.I. legal research for yourself, start a 14-day free trial of Casetext here.