Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ravel Law - A New Visual Search Engine

A new website is changing the way we can research and visualize court cases throughout history.  Still in its Beta form, Ravel Law is a newly released website developed by two Stanford Law School students that not only allows you to search for cases, but lets you see just how these cases are connected and ranked by influence.

The Ravel Law homepage resembles Google with its clean and easy-to-navigate interface.  The database allows you to search for Supreme Court and Court of Appeals cases in much the same way as you would use Google with Boolean searches and the option of filtering by jurisdiction.  

However, the fascinating part of Ravel Law is in the presentation of its search results. Those who are more visual will be especially interested in the graphical analysis of the search results. 

Seventy-five of the most relevant cases from your search list are represented by a circle along an x-axis representing the year. The larger the circle, the more important the case is based on citations.   

Hovering over the circle will show you the case as well as which other cases have cited to it. A line is drawn between the circles, creating a visual web of inter-related cases. Your search results may still be viewed in list form on the right side of the page.
There are four different filters you can select to change the graph:

  • relevance
  • court
  • as a cluster
  • narrowed to a certain time period 

Ravel Law gives you free access to all Supreme Court cases and Court of Appeals cases to 1925. To get the more benefits of the site, sign up for a free account! An added benefit with an account is that you can highlight and annotate cases yourself. A premium account is available which, in addition to the basic sources, gives you access to District Court cases and all state cases to 1950 (except the Dakotas), the CaseNA Page Guide, and Judges’ Threads Analytics which provides statistics on the justices’ opinions.  There is much to explore with this site, so check it out!

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