How Smart Tech Enhances Legal Research for Junior Solicitors

Picture this. You are the Principal of a boutique law firm and employ several junior solicitors in their first few years of legal practice. How do you ensure your less experienced staff have what they need to grow their legal expertise? 

For one, you’d want to make sure they have access to the best legal information they can get. You know they don’t yet have the knowledge that legal practitioners like you have acquired through years (or decades) of handling matters for clients. To help them keep up and continue to grow, you consider implementing a legal research software for your firm. 

The scenario resonates with Danny King, the Owner and Principal of Danny King Legal, a Sydney-based firm which specialises in employment law. Danny agreed to take part in a Thomson Reuters Legal design partnership, as she could see the value in offering smart legal research to the practitioners at her firm. Continue reading or simply download Danny’s case study from the form on this page. 

Case Study Snapshot: Danny King Legal 

Danny’s Team was one of the first in the legal profession to test out the new iteration of Westlaw and they continue to utilise the AI-backed tool today.

“I always strive to invest time and money in providing my staff with the right tools, so that they can provide our clients with the right answers – that’s what we are paid to do. If it was easy then our clients would be able to do it for themselves; they’re paying us because we are the experts and are skilled at filtering through all of the scary details you find in a book or online to provide them with the right answer,” explained Danny. 

The Owner and Director of Danny King Legal stressed that the amount of time her staff spend on knowledge work can be substantial. For example, they may either find themselves stuck in a traditional legal database trawling for specifics, or swimming in mass information on the internet. Hence, opting to give the new Westlaw made a lot of sense from the get-go. 

“Utilising a tool that optimises our search to be able to really narrow down exactly what we are looking for would not just save us a lot of time (by removing the need to cross-check everything manually), but save us money, too” 

– Danny King, Owner and Principal of Danny King Legal

Practical benefits of adopting smart legal research

So what do the solicitors at Danny King Legal have to say about their legal research experience with the new Westlaw?

Savanna Rosso, Paralegal at Danny King Legal, said she finds the tool really useful. Unlike traditional databases, where you have to know how to ‘hack’ them to get the right search results, the new Westlaw cuts to the chase.

“With Westlaw you can type in a question that you have been asked by someone, and it will generate results which you can then narrow down into an answer,” said Savanna.

A key differentiator with the Thomson Reuters Legal research solution, is that you do not have to leave a stone unturned. When you get to the answer, you know it is final and nothing has been missed. As Savanna noted:

“The main thing is needing to know that once you’ve reached an answer, it’s actually the final answer. There’s nowhere you need to search, and nothing else you need to find. And being able to get to that point as quickly as possible is the main thing.”

Another benefit of conducting legal research with the cloud-based solution is the confidence it gives you. For example, Cormac Foley, a solicitor at the boutique firm, trusts that the smart database indicates to him whether or not the research findings are still good law.

“There’s a feature that lets you see where the case law has been cited and whether its been negatively or positively cited by other cases. So it means that you are relying on the most up-to-date versions and you’re not relying on something that has been overturned, later on, which is great”

– Cormac Foley, Solicitor at Danny King Legal

When it comes to niche areas of the law, where the practitioner conducting legal research may not be as familiar with it as other practice areas, drawing on the smart tool can point you in the right direction. As Cormac explained: 

“We had a niche area of law that we were working in, regarding appealing decisions on payroll tax matters. And we noticed that there wasn’t much case law in the traditional databases that we were using, so we jumped onto Westlaw and narrowed the terms down a little bit and we had six cases straight away that were relevant to what we were doing.”

If the testimonials provided by Danny, Savanna and Cormac are anything to go by, it is clear that boutique firms have a lot to gain from the use of smart legal research capabilities such as Westlaw. Danny describes her law firm as ‘nimble’, and it is this flexible sensibility that enables the firm’s practitioners to proceed with agility. This facilitates knowledge growth for the users of the technology and reduces time to complete research tasks, benefiting both solicitor and client. Download the full case study of Danny King, from Danny King Legal here on Legal Insight

Curious to know what the legal profession in Australia and New Zealand really think about legal research? Access your copy of our legal research report for insights we gleaned from a recent survey. 

Subscribe toLegal Insight

Discover best practice and keep up-to-date with insights on the latest industry trends.