The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales (ICLR) is universally regarded as the most authoritative source of English case law. Established in 1865 by members of the legal profession, ICLR publishes the official law reports: the weekly law reports, the industrial cases reports, the Business law reports, the public and third sector law reports and the consolidated index to leading law reports. ICLR’s mission is to support the legal profession and the administration of justice by providing the official law reporting service in a convenient form and at a moderate price. To access ICLR’s information, visit https://www.iclr.co.uk/
Regarded as the authoritative voice on English case law, ICLR began to face stiff competition as other publishers began to move their data online in the 1990s. At the time, ICLR was lacking a digital delivery platform or experience in digital delivery, and therefore chose to outsource its content through a series of licensing deals with third-party online providers—an arrangement that served admirably for many years. However, as online customers and information demand increased, ICLR decided to create its own digital delivery platform in-house in order to regain control of its content, and reign in costs.
ICLR launched a custom digital platform in 2011, providing basic search and content delivery and was primarily based on duplicating the printed versions of reports. This platform was difficult to maintain, couldn’t be changed easily and presented an inconsistent user experience. In addition, ICLR wanted to do more than just deliver English case law: the organization wanted to become the primary source for researching and accessing English case law. To address these issues and add the ability to quickly create new products and services, ICLR needed to create a new, robust, fast, and user-friendly platform.
To create this new platform, ICLR chose 67 Bricks to develop a new delivery platform due to the team’s deep experience in implementing digital content platforms. ICLR and 67 Bricks worked together to scope out requirements. The high-level requirements included:
- Search across all the ICLR content and metadata
- Integration of the various content types from the existing separate databases for metadata and asset information
- Personalization of the main site with user topics, and email alerts to keep users up-todate on their focus areas
- Content enrichment to drive an online (versus pdf) research experience, including document references and inline navigation
- Agile infrastructure to quickly add content and features, and create new products
Prior to the new system, ICLR’s content was maintained in two completely separate silos: – file store for the highly complex full text reports, transcripts and summaries – sQl database of ‘index cards’ which summarise the case history and include citator information, detailed subject matter, key words and phrases, and commentary
ICLR and 67 Bricks determined that Marklogic®, with its flexible, scalable and secure infrastructure, built-in search, and ability to quickly integrate different content and data types, would best suit the organization’s needs.
Built in just six months, the new platform helped ICLR achieve its goals to create a new online delivery experience centered on researching and accessing a greater breadth and depth of case law.
Redefined, powerful online presence
The new system radically reshaped ICLR’s presence on the web: instead of information about ICLR with a protected site for the content on the home page, ICLR now presents all of its data in a user-friendly search, browse and reading interface to all visitors. this supports the organization’s commitment to open Justice, a legal initiative for openness and transparency in the justice system, as well as the organization’s goals to become the primary resource for English case law. the new application is available as the homepage and focuses on the content ICLR publishes, and the most important activities for users: the search box and a targeted feed of the latest case updates.
Improved user experience
Marklogic’s rich, built-in search and query features meant that the 67 Bricks team could develop the powerful search-driven interface in the same platform that manages the data, and leverages every element across the different data types to refine the search experience. These custom search capabilities also enabled the 67 Bricks team to create the personalized views and alerts for the ICLR users that tailor the experience for each user, and truly make the new ICLR site the primary place to research and access UK case law.
With the new platform, almost everything about ICLR’s service is user-focused, from the searching of cases and statutes via the display of results and citator information, the presentation of the case reports, to the accessibility of judgments and statutes in the public domain. From the list of search results, the user can navigate to an index card page that presents a complete summary of information relating to each case and, depending if the user has logged in and has a subscription, navigate to a document view that offers the uninterrupted full text alongside navigational links. Both views offer options to download or print a pdf version, or email, tweet or copy a link to the page view.
Other user features include predictive search, faceted search results, an enriched document view including table of contents, and personalization. For example, users can get alerts to case updates that are of particular interest.
Faster time to market
Marklogic’s ability to quickly ingest and integrate multiple data types enabled the 67 Bricks team to quickly create the content platform behind the new site. The team was able to create the platform in just six months, and lay the foundation to roll out new services quickly in the future.
Update – A continuous evolution to support business and user needs
67 Bricks has been working with ICLR to constantly evolve the platform in line with user needs. In 2020, the team asked 67 Bricks to deliver the next phase of their digital transformation strategy, starting with a significant upgrade to the digital platform.
ICLR’s former head of product Daniel Hoadley said: “It is time for us to move to the next level by integrating emerging technologies such as AI and NLP that will enable us to offer a suite of new features, including an AI ‘similarity search’ that will help the legal sector dig deeper and wider into case law, and find the ‘unknown unknowns’ that could change the landscape.”
The latest version, ICLR 4.0, will be officially launched in October 2021.
Daniel continued: “We are delighted to be partnering with 67 Bricks to deliver this capability to our customers. The collaboration with them offers us control, flexibility and the ability to adapt and stay ahead of the curve. Having worked with the team for over four years now, no one gets our data and technology quite like them.”
If you are interested in getting involved in ICLR’s Beta testing programme for the new platform, which will be running over the summer, please contact them via firstname.lastname@example.org