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MongoDB World 2018: Digitizing Colossal Data: Using Tech to Disrupt the Legal Industry and Bring Forth Positive Change


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Speaker: Neha Nivedita, Software Engineer, NodeXperts

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MongoDB World 2018: Digitizing Colossal Data: Using Tech to Disrupt the Legal Industry and Bring Forth Positive Change

  1. 1. Digitizing Colossal Data Using Tech to Disrupt the Legal Industry for Positive Change Neha Nivedita Software Engineer, NodeXperts @niknivedit
  2. 2. b es n a bu h d do n to sa h o l !
  3. 3. Agenda 1. Need for Tech Disruption in Legal Industry 2. Limiting factors & their effects 3. Current situation 4. Digital solutions 5. Scope for Automation 6. Tips for Digitization
  4. 4. The legal industry mostly works with hard copy documents. At best, scanned PDFs are used.
  5. 5. Wrongful Convictions
  6. 6. 4.1% defendants wrongfully sentenced to death in the United States
  7. 7. 1 in 25 defendants are later shown to be innocent
  8. 8. that’s just the death row cases what about others?
  9. 9. With millions of criminal convictions a year Even 1% amounts to tens of thousands of tragic errors
  10. 10. Case Study
  11. 11. An expert witness is a person of specialized knowledge or skill in a particular field qualified to present their opinion about the facts of a case during legal proceedings.
  12. 12. Case Study Vaccination case involving a severely disabled baby girl: ● Plaintiff was an infant with a history of seizures ● She was given whole cell pertussis vaccination ● Her brain was found to be profoundly damaged
  13. 13. The defendant posited fully credentialed experts Against a scientist with sub par expert credentials for the plaintiff
  14. 14. The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff. However, the judge set aside the verdict due to inadequate proof by the plaintiff’s expert witness.
  15. 15. “It was somewhat disquieting not to be able to reach out to the scientific community to obtain an expert who could testify as a ‘neutral authority’ in court. The second thing that troubled me was that when the case was over, I felt that impartial scientists who knew the field might well agree that the expert retained by the plaintiff should not be allowed to testify on this subject again.” — Judge Jack Weinstein (1998)
  16. 16. “...I did not know, however, what, if anything, I could do about this. There was no acceptable mechanism for contacting the relevant professional organizations, nor did I have any assurance that those organizations would have been receptive to my communications.” — Judge Jack Weinstein (1998)
  17. 17. Limiting Factors
  18. 18. Current Situation ● PACER (1996) ○ Public Access to Court Electronic Records ● CM / ECF (1998) ○ Case Management / Electronic Case Files ● eCourts (2005) ● E-filing of Supreme Court cases (2017) ● Daubert Tracker
  19. 19. Hardcopy Records ● Cases before 1999 ● Court argument transcripts till date ● Lack of uniform data formats across state courts Even older case files: ● US: Archived under NARA but in unsearchable formats ● India: Still only on hardcopy records * NARA = National Archives and Records Administration
  20. 20. Problems ● Tedious litigation process ● Inaccessibility of affordable court transcripts ● Weak evidence and expert reports
  21. 21. Overworked law interns (trying to get away with murder)
  22. 22. Effect ● Overburdened public defenders ● Wrongful convictions and acquittals ● Low income groups and minorities are disproportionately affected
  23. 23. Digital Solutions
  24. 24. Annalise Keating likes a challenge
  25. 25. #1 Digitizing Case Journals
  26. 26. Digitizing Case Journals Digitized millions of court case documents ● Used structured format for searchability ● Stored in a live database ● Analyzed to extract meaningful keywords
  27. 27. Digitizing Case Journals Added nifty search features on the keywords: ● Named Entity Recognition algorithm ● Name wise search using NER ● Search with citation, headnote, judge, location etc.
  28. 28. Digitizing Case Journals Real time records availability! ● Attorneys can research easily ● Time to build a case reduced ● Execute hundreds of queries per second ● Citations abound!
  29. 29. Digitizing Case Journals ● Optical Character Recognition (OCR) ○ To convert text and images from scans into data objects ● Named Entity Recognition (NER) ○ Labels sequences of words that are names of things ○ Stanford’s library based on JAVA and NLP
  30. 30. Digitizing Case Journals ● Solr Plugin ○ To process the NER requests ○ Return the named entities from the texts ○ Super fast search! ● Node.js + Vue + Zend app
  31. 31. #2 Profiling Expert Witnesses
  32. 32. Profiling Expert Witnesses ● Earlier it took 3-4 days to create a single expert profile ● A lot of documents had to be processed and analyzed manually ● Needed a contextual search tool to easily browse through the docs
  33. 33. Profiling Expert Witnesses ● NER to identify names in a document ● Auto crawling through obscure legal research databases to get hard-to-find data ● A Zend dashboard to generate expert profiles New turnaround time: 3-4 hours!
  34. 34. #3 Reviewing Expert Reports
  35. 35. Reviewing Expert Reports Real time web app: ● Expert witnesses write legal reports ● Verify quality of expert reports ● Peer reviews were done offline ● Need for a digital platform for this type of service
  36. 36. Reviewing Expert Reports Node.js + Express + Angular ● Platform for blind peer reviews of reports ● Step-wise auditable review process ● Iteration based approval and rejection flows for reports
  37. 37. Reviewing Expert Reports MongoDB ● Report document storage ● Maintains expert & reviewer profiles ● Fast search capabilities ● Real time updates to web app
  38. 38. Positive Change
  39. 39. Positive Change ● Easy access to court documents ● Ability to build a strong case ● Quality expert witnesses ● Reliable expert reports & testimonies
  40. 40. Scope for Automation
  41. 41. Scope for Automation ● Scheduling can be a pain ● PACER ○ Public Access to Court Electronic Records ○ Uses RSS feed based alerting system
  42. 42. Scope for Automation ● Automate alerts for: ○ Court dates ○ Case status changes ● Make life easier for attorneys: ○ Especially underfunded public defenders & pro-bono attorneys ○ They have to juggle a lot of things!
  43. 43. Tips for Digitization
  44. 44. Digitization need not stop at moving from paper to PDFs.
  45. 45. Digitization of Data Transforming data into useful information is more important: ● Searchability ● Analyzability ● Distributability
  46. 46. Digitization of Data Transforming data into useful information is more important: ● Centralized ● Contextualized ● Real time
  47. 47. @niveditn github @niknivedit twitter email Slides will be up on the site soon. Follow me for more web dev stuff!