Ambitious Effort to Digitize State Trial Court Records Provides Unprecedented Insight (Article)

Trellis opens the door on overlooked state courts.

Arguably the most annoying part of my career involved going to state court. Federal court had a genteel order to it. The only difference between the Southern District of New York and a random district elsewhere was the courthouse.

But state court was a wild mess. Hours of cattle call appearances. County clerk offices that functioned like personal fiefdoms. And impossible to search records. It’s hard to get a handle on a court system with depths you can’t plumb.

When we first talked to Trellis back in the early days of the pandemic, the company had an ambitious plan to gather the ungatherable — digitize state court documents and put them all under one searchable roof. At the time, the project had made impressive inroads into a few choice jurisdictions. Catching up with CEO Nicole Clark at Legalweek, the company’s come a long way in a very short amount of time.

Today, Trellis has the court documents from 17 states — or, given the power of county clerks to support or obstruct the process, it’s fairer to say 475 counties. There are over 100 million searchable filings.

And with a lot of documents comes a lot of opportunities for powerful analytics.

At the trial level, efforts to unravel a state court judge always suffered from a lack of reported opinions to analyze. With the vast Trellis library, the system can provide ruling and grant rate analytics, projected case and motion duration information broken down by subject matter, and insights into the judge’s experience drawn directly from their docket. The system provides similar insights on opposing counsel and expert witnesses.

Analytics like these aren’t necessarily new to the industry, but past efforts presented the state court picture through a glass darkly. Published state trial court opinions are few and far between and only provide part of the picture. With a full accounting of the docket, Trellis gets a clearer look at how judges manage their matters.

With all the documents under the Trellis roof, users can also take advantage of a practical brief bank tailored to the court they need. Find model jury instructions and motion language specific to the judge’s taste. 

Meet Lawyer Entrepreneur Nicole Clark CEO Of Trellis — The Google Of Legal Analytics

In-house counsel are leveraging state trial court data to help them navigate through uncertain legal terrains (Article)

In-house counsel are leveraging state trial court data to help them navigate through uncertain legal terrains

By Nicole Clark

Nicole Clark is CEO and co-founder of Trellis.

My Cottage BBQ & Brew is located in Port Dalhousie, a quiet waterfront community nestled on Lake Ontario, a 30-minute drive from Niagara Falls. This is where Kristen Cass slipped on September 2, 2007, falling to the floor and injuring her ankle.

The incident quickly transformed into a legal proceeding against the building’s owner, the Port Dalhousie Vitalization Corporation (PDVC). The case and its arguments remain unremarkable—a standard personal injury liability claim that enabled the PDVC to dismiss the action through summary judgment.

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But then something interesting happened. Justice Alan Whitten of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice capped the costs awarded to the defense, writing that the use of artificial intelligence would have “significantly reduced” counsel’s preparation time. In the end, Justice Whitten lowered the starting point for disbursements by $11,404.08.

“What we are seeing from the bench, at least, is that the courts are mindful of the use of [artificial intelligence] and are grappling with what it means for the litigation process,” attorney Carole Piovesan explained at the time. 

And the courts aren’t alone. AI-powered legal analytics has become a necessity for the contemporary practice of the law, and the in-house counsels employed by corporate legal departments are taking heed, leveraging state trial court data to help them navigate through uncertain legal terrains.

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Podcast: Frustrated Litigation Lawyer Transforms Court Data Into User Friendly Searchable Analytics Platform

Nicole Clark is a business litigation and labor and employment attorney who has handled litigation in both state and federal courts. She’s worked at a variety of law firms ranging from mid-size litigation boutiques to large firms, and is licensed to practice law in three states. She has defended corporations and employers in complex class action and wage and hour disputes, as well as individual employment matters ranging from sexual harassment to wrongful termination. Additionally, Nicole is the CEO and co-founder of Trellis Research, a legal analytics platform that uses AI and machine learning to provide litigators with strategic legal intelligence and judicial analytics. Nicole has an intuitive understanding of technology and is deeply committed to helping lawyers leverage technology to gain a competitive advantage and achieve a more favorable outcome for their clients. 

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