Class Exercise: Turning Research into a Deliverable Using Analytics


Photoby NeONBRAND  on Unsplash

 It’s spooky season, so dare I bring up ABA     accreditation standards and “experiential   learning”? Maybe it’s just me but it feels like the   initial buzz around the ABA’s experiential learning standards has quieted a bit. However, I serve on our law school’s faculty committee tasked with assessing our stated J.D. learning  outcomes, so for me, the ABA standards are part of my regular vocabulary. And this year in particular has me especially engaged: this is the year our committee is assessing our J.D. learning outcome on legal research (cue the rejuvenated ABA spirit!)

This post is not about our assessment methods, rather what we have so far learned about legal research practice by law graduates. In a meeting with some of our most successful and engaged alumni, we heard that while newer graduates’ research skills are impressive, these same graduates generally need deeper demonstration of what it means to turn a “legal answer” into a “client answer”. Put another way: what does it meant to put that answer into a contract, client email, or proposed solution? With that in mind, I conducted the following lesson and assignment and I’m happy to report that it had great success.

I started by inviting a friend and fellow law librarian, Jocelyn Sagherian, to my class to provide a survey of legal analytics tools, a growing field and increasingly necessary skill in legal practice. She brought her experience from working in law firms, in law schools, and with Lexis. The lesson covered a range of products from Bloomberg, Lex Machina, Monitor Suite, Lexis Context, Westlaw Edge analytics and more. We ran out of time to do her in-class exercise but that’s where the door opened for a little competition in the next class meeting:



Photo cred: Pexels

You are a large firm with a robust IP Practice with experience representing multiple tech players in the Fortune 500. Apple, Inc was recently sued for copyright infringement and you want to retain the company as your client for this suit.

New Firm (team 1): You’ve never represented Apple before and this would be a huge achievement for your firm. What’s your strategy? In 30 minutes, we’re meeting for drinks and it’s your job to sell me your pitch on why I should hire you.

M&F LLP Firm (team 2): You work for Morrison & Foerester LLP and have represented Apple in many other suits, but primarily related for patent and fraud claims. What’s your strategy? In 30 minutes, we’re meeting for drinks and it’s your job to sell me your pitch on why I should hire you.

If they needed guidance, I offered for them to consider:

What is the track record of the firm in litigating certain kinds of cases? 

Which firms have the most experience in this area, and what were the outcomes of those cases?


You secured Apple in the above suit and had great success. Apple retains your firm again for a patent suit filed against them yesterday. The case has been assigned to Judge Davila in the N.D. of California. What’s your strategy?

If they needed guidance, I offered for them to consider:

What are the predilections of Judge Davila? 

Should we seek a change of venue? 

Should we press forward with this case or settle?” (how long will it last?)

As fun as legal research can be, I must say we did have a lot of fun! To boot, their responses were impressive, too. Among the creative and well-reasoned contributions, I heard students:

  • Define success in both legal terms and financial expense;
  • Discuss strategies and track records for motions for summary judgment and motions to dismiss ;
  • Point out the judge’s tendencies and illustrate strategies using citation patterns;
  • Illustrate potential timelines for this copyright suit and relate it to the judge’s current docket;
  • Detail the judge’s experience with copyright issues;
  • Advocate for their business and sell their prior experience in copyright infringement; and
  • Share strategies for obtaining top experts

Truly, the students shined and I think they enjoyed the non-graded competition. I will definitely employ this exercise again and will be sure to make this research lesson a regular part of my course content. Have you taught Analytics in ALR? If so, how have you delivered the content and what assignments did you give to allow the students to practice using the tools? I’d love to know!

This entry was posted in ABA, competitive intelligence, Legal databases, Legal Technology, student engagement, Teaching (general) and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Class Exercise: Turning Research into a Deliverable Using Analytics

  1. sdemaine says:

    Great post, Cassie! Thank you for the concreteness of this exercise.

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