This September we hosted a Legal Tech Gumbo session dedicated to using quantitative methods to find new threads in U.S. caselaw. The Legal Tech Gumbo is a collaboration between the Harvard Law & Technology Society and Harvard Library Innovation Lab (LIL).
The session kicked off by introducing data made available as part of the Caselaw Access Project API, a channel to navigate 6.4 million cases dating back 360 years. How can we use that data to advance legal scholarship? In this session Research Associate John Bowers shared how researchers can apply quantitative research methods to qualitative data sources, a theme which has shaped the past decade of research practices in the humanities.
This summer, Bowers shared a blog post outlining some of the themes he found in Caselaw Access Project data, focusing on the influence of judges active in the Illinois court system. Here, we had the chance to learn more about research based on this dataset and its supporting methodology. We applied these same practices to a new segment of data, viewing a century of Arkansas caselaw in ten-year intervals using data analytics and visualization to find themes in U.S. legal history. Want to explore the data we looked at in this session? Take a look at this interactive repository (or, if you prefer, check out this read-only version).
In this session, we learned new ways to find stories in U.S. caselaw. Have you used Caselaw Access Project data in your research? Tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.