How often are attorneys missing key precedent? More than you think

As practicing attorneys, we spend hours upon hours conducting legal research to ensure we’ve identified all relevant cases for our briefs. We do so not only because it’s part of our obligation to provide competent representation to our clients—we also fear the consequences of missing key precedent.

So how often do attorneys actually fail to cite key precedent? 

In a survey of over 100 federal and state judges, a shocking 83% of judges reported they catch attorneys missing relevant cases, with 27% reporting they see this happen the majority of the time or in almost every case. 

Additionally, a staggering 68% of judges (and nearly 70% of federal judges) have observed instances where missing precedent impacted the outcome of a motion or proceeding.

At the same time, many attorneys report missing cases or finding conflicting citation flags using traditional research platforms such as Lexis and Westlaw. Even the U.S. Department of Labor claimed it failed to cite relevant case information because Westlaw’s database was incomplete (see Walsh v. Unitil Service Corp.).

So now that you know attorneys are likely missing more relevant precedent than they think, how do you avoid being one of them?

A simple solution is to use modern legal research platforms like Casetext, which leverage advanced AI to help attorneys conduct more accurate research. In addition to finding cases that traditional legal research platforms might miss, these AI-backed search tools locate cases without complicated search queries, making research faster and easier. 

For example, Casetext’s legal research tool, Parallel Search, allows you to instantly find on-point case law by searching your legal issue in a sentence, instead of coming up with keywords or Boolean. This saves time-poor attorneys several hours on research. 

The reality is that even excellent attorneys are likely missing relevant precedent more than they think. In order to avoid becoming a statistic, it may be time to upgrade your research strategy with modern research platforms powered by advanced AI. 

Click here to try Casetext’s legal research tool, Parallel Search. 

Author: Jessica Mullery