The common law system is built on hundreds of years of precedents, with more cases being heard and published every day. With the advent of online platforms, legal practitioners can access larger collections of case law faster than ever before, including not only reported content but also unreported cases, which largely increases the pool of potential material to consider when conducting research.
This is especially true for those practising in Commonwealth jurisdictions. Not only is an importance placed on precedent-setting decisions from their own courts, but persuasive content from other jurisdictions is often welcome, depending on the area of law in question.
With this huge body of case law to consider, it is important to utilise the most efficient legal research tools available, as well as ensuring that you know how to use them and that your legal research skills are developed to enable you to refine search results effectively.
JustisOne, our flagship legal research platform, is powered by the world’s largest legal taxonomy, containing over 1.5 million terms. The taxonomy is a list of legal terms and classifications which are used to categorise all of the cases on JustisOne. This comprehensive approach to categorisation has numerous benefits to the way users search for cases on JustisOne. But how was this detailed system of categorisation created?
Rory Campbell, Head of Editorial Content at Justis, explains how this extensive taxonomy of terms was produced:
When we created our unreported judgment collection, we weren’t able to find a suitable legal taxonomy off the shelf for classifying the content consistently and objectively for our new service JustisOne. We developed the taxonomy in-house alongside the guidance of an industry expert, using the raw judgments as a training and development source. The key concepts and phrases unique to each area of law were identified and allocated to a branch of the taxonomy. The process took around two and a half years and is now used alongside classification software by our legally trained editors. The classification process uses a number of criteria and passes each document through a number of filters to generate a classification suggestion which is reviewed by our editors.
The Browse feature on JustisOne is where the categories relating to terms in the taxonomy are most readily visible. With 46 top-level categories and up to 9 levels of sub-category in increasing levels of detail, Browse allows users to research areas of law in as much depth as they require. This is useful when researching an area of law outside of their expertise, and so they may not know which search terms would return relevant results, as Browse enables users to explore areas of law at the click of a button and find cases relating directly to it.
The categories which come from the taxonomy can be used to search in three different ways:
Firstly, you can select categories directly in Browse and click ‘find cases’. This will perform a CategoryExact search for the exact selected category only, as shown below, and this is the most precise form of category search you can conduct on JustisOne. This will return cases which JustisOne contains the full text of which are classified with that category.
In the Advanced Search form, the Category field can be used to perform a Category search, as shown below. This search will treat the words in the category as separate terms, which in the example below would mean categories containing “breach” “of” or “contract”. The results of a Category search will also include both the full-text cases housed on JustisOne and the indexed content from 120 other providers.
The broadest way to search for categories is to use our intelligent search bar, as shown below. The category you have searched for will be boosted in the results returned, although the search will also include documents where the individual words from your search term appear in the title or text of a document.
It is also possible to use the Category and CategoryExact search terms within our intelligent search bar by typing them yourself, which enables you to conduct highly detailed searches when combined with other parameters such as date ranges and Boolean operators.
If you have a subscription to JustisOne and want to maximise the benefits of the taxonomy, our training team will be happy to take you through the features discussed above in more detail. To arrange a training session, simply contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you new to JustisOne? If you want to learn more about the benefits of the powerful search that the world’s largest legal taxonomy enables, arrange a demonstration with a member of our team.