Defining Analytics for Law

For two years I designed products at Ravel Law. We applied machine learning and data science to the practice of law.

My Role



November 2015 - Present

I arrived at Ravel at a time when it was suffering an identity crisis. I set out to clarify our mission and create a robust understanding of precisely what we wanted to do. Through a series of internal conversations—and a lot of reading—I produced the following diagram of our business, the stakeholders we interacted with, and the types of content needed to serve them. This empowered our executive team to have a productive dialogue about who we were creating for, and to what end.

To build tools for a professional audience requires an understanding of their work. I conducted background research and stakeholder interviews to develop the model shown below of the legal research process. I grouped the identifiable steps of that process into modes, and used those to drive discussion at Ravel about how we were supporting, or failing to support, the goals of our users.

Ravel's products were built on a corpus of data derived from legal opinons, the written summaries of cases. Using Named Entity Recognition and other machine learning techniques we identified the various entities involved in each matter and could then derive analyses of the relationships between them. I created this map of the entities we could or would be able to accurately recall and characterized the relationships between them. By sharing this with colleagues I created a cross-functional means of discussing what we were trying to accomplish through our products, data science, and engineering.

I inherited a product with two years of history, no design standards, and an ambitious roadmap. In 18 months I redesigned two central products, designed and launched 3 others, standardized our identity and product design, designed and implemented a CMS, instituted user-centered practices in our development process, and conducted consulting engagements on behalf of the company.

I took Ravel from a struggling app with limited features to a legal analytics platform that was acquired by one of the largest companies in the industry. I worked across disciplines, outside my comfort zone and through novel challenges to deliver a cohesive vision of what it will mean to practice law in the future. I did so by applying the principles of user-centered design, by learning as often and as deeply as I could, and by playing to my strengths as a communicator.

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