How Do You Feel About "Good Enough"?: Another Look at Citators

Westwood, Karen E.; Wilson, Charles D.
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Karen Westwood & Charles D. Wilson, How Do You Feel about Good Enough: Another Look at Citators, 4 Legal Info. Rev. 1 (2019).
Citators serve a number of functions. Lawyers and researchers use citators to trace the direct history of a case and as a research tool to lead to additional pertinent cases and to secondary and other material. But the primary use of citators is to determine whether a case remains "good law." Producers of citators make bold claims for their citators as the most efficient and accurate means to make this determination, and lawyers are challenged to determine the veracity of these claims. Earlier articles delved deep into the history of citators. Recent articles compared Shepard's and KeyCite on such attributes as currency, accuracy and comprehensiveness in an effort to determine which citator is preeminent. With a focus on the needs of solo attorneys and small firm practitioners, who face particular economic pressures, this article turns that approach on its head. Recognizing the high cost of research platforms, and the need for attorneys to conserve time as well as money, the authors ask not which citator service is the best, but which of Shepard's, KeyCite, BCite, Bad Law Bot, and Casecheck+ will perform the minimum requirement of a citator-alerting the researcher to direct (and strong but indirect) negative treatment. The authors further query whether it is objectively possible to make this determination. A set of random state and federal cases were run through each of the citator services and provide the data for this analysis.