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Feature Spotlight: Four Lexis® Case Visualization Tools

April 21, 2023 (4 min read)

This post was originally published in May 2020 and updated in April 2023. 

Remember those comic book superheroes with X-ray vision? Well, the Lexis service doesn’t give you capabilities that powerful (yet!), but it does have some handy online legal research tools that are pretty darn close.  

And just like X-ray vision, these visualization tools help you find things that were previously hidden.

In this context, “visualization” means taking huge amounts of data and representing it graphically, so you can spot valuable details that were virtually impossible to see before—we’re talking things like trends, key composite facts, timelines, and much more.       

How Online Legal Research Visualization Tools Help

Finding the right point of law for your matter gets more difficult as case law in your jurisdiction grows exponentially. And the worry about missing the best case? It’s the stuff of nightmares.

Those concerns were at the forefront when the visualization tools inside Lexis were developed. Perhaps more importantly, they’re designed to reflect the way legal professionals think.

In other words, these tools will answer your questions with the right case sets—so you can perform deeper, faster online legal research.

Four Exclusive Case Visualization Tools

Here are four case law visualization tools available in the Lexis service that you won’t find anywhere else. They can help you answer some very important questions.

1. Search Term Maps
Which Cases Are Most Relevant?

Humans can comprehend color much faster than words, which is precisely why the Search Term Maps tool is so helpful for online legal research.

The Search Term Maps feature color codes your search words and displays these search term clusters in your case results so you can quickly figure out which cases need further attention.

Open a full-text case and find all the color-coded search term hits there too. Zip through a lengthy opinion to zero-in on the most relevant portions.

2. Shepard’s® Case Cards
Is That Case Good Law—On My Point of Law?

Shepard’s® case cards work in your case search results like Search Term Maps. You can reveal the most cited headnotes in a results case with one click. Or view the reason the case got its Shepard’s Signal™ indicator—the exact language from the specific citing case. 

Better still, you can complete these tasks without leaving the results screen. That way, you’ll move through your search results to pinpoint what you need much faster.

Plus, the colorful Shepard’s “donut” on the results screen shows you upfront how many citing cases have positively or negatively impacted your results case. Click to move into the case’s Shepard’s report filtered to the specific treatment you choose.

3. Ravel™ View
How Do My Top Cases Cite Each Other?

Take a more informed look at your top case search results. The Ravel View feature creates a chart of your top 75 results, highlighting details that you won’t see in a traditional text-based results list—things like seminal cases and which cases in those results cite to each other. You can also see citing trends over time.

Each circle represents a case. When you hover over a citing case’s circle, you’ll see the language that influenced the Shepard’s Signal. That way, you’ll quickly see if the citing case is discussing your point of law.   


4. Reason for Shepard’s Signal
Why Does My Case Have Shepard’s Warning Signal?

The Reason for Shepard’s Signal answers some fundamental case research questions: Has the case you want to rely upon been overruled on your point of law? Or maybe you’ve found a case with the exclusive green positive signal. What case—and what language—influenced that “followed by” signal?

But maybe the best part of the Reason for Shepard’s Signal feature is that you answer these questions without leaving your full-text case. In the righthand panel next to the text, you can view a Shepard’s preview of treatment—another Lexis exclusive. Above that colorful preview, it’s easy to spot the Reason for Shepard’s Signal.  

Click “View the top citing reference” to display the court’s language that had the strongest influence on the Shepard’s Signal, for example:

Get the court’s specific language as well as the specific headnote being addressed. You can link to the citing case if needed or navigate back to your case’s full text or directly to the headnotes. (And you’ll also find Shepard’s Signal indicators assigned at the headnote level.)

Legal Research Superpowers—No Cape Required

So yeah, no X-ray vision at this point. But when used together, these visual tools give you the uncanny ability to scour a massive online law library to find good law with blazing-fast speed, and that’ll surely make you a legal superhero—at least in the eyes of your clients.

If you’d like to get a closer look at the visualization tools within Lexis (and even see them in action), request a Free Trial.

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