Harvard Just Open More Than 6 Million Court Case Documents Available For Free

Harvard University has completed their ambitions Caselaw project that has digitized every reported state and federal US legal case from the 1600s to 2017.
Jessica Miley

The Harvard Law School has just made more than 6 million court case available for free to the public as part of an effort to help an AI to develop legal skills. The Library Innovation Lab based out of the Harvard Law School Library announced the completion of Caselaw Access Project (CAP) API and bulk data service last week. 

The project has managed to digitize and publish every reported state and federal US legal case from the 1600s to 2017. It took more than five years and involved scanning more than 40 million pages. 

Legal AI developers hit the jackpot

The dataset covers almost 6.5 million individual cases and will be an important resource for researchers, the legal community and the general public. One of its biggest audiences is expected to be the developers of legal AI applications. 

Companies working to develop legal AI train their software by feeding them data, but in the past, these companies have had to create their own databases from compiling the little that is available publicly. However, this new data from Harvard will allow the companies to focus on training the AI rather than scraping together appropriate information. 

Caselaw project has a sense of humor about data

All the data is available on the Caselaw website, you can browse and download individual cases or download bulk cases in zip folders. The owners of the project have created a few fun tools to explore the collection too. 

You can also view wordclouds, from the most common words in the cases each year. The Limerick tool, generate a witty ditty from words inside cases such as: 

“They are not parties aggrieved. 

For money had and received. 

Chronological feat. 

Metropolitan Street. But that case was misconceived.” 

And to honor Halloween, visitors to the site can scroll over a map of the United States and find out more information about cases involving witchcraft . But jokes aside, the new archive will serve as an invaluable tool for legal AID companies. 

Legal AI will reap the benefits of free data

Legal AI technology ranges from bots to help you get out of parking tickets to helping you find finance your upcoming litigation. AI can process masses of information really quickly, an invaluable resource to law firms who are short-staffed and under a time pressure. 


AI is being used by lawyers around the world to help make contract law more efficient. AI help analyze contracts in bulk as well as individual contracts. There are leading software companies who have created AI tools for contract review, such as Kira Systems, LawGeex, and eBrevia. 

Other countries may follow Harvard's lead and look to make public their court histories to help open up the AI legal field and in doing so perhaps make access to lawyers and legal information easier.

Via: Harvard


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