Thomson Reuters Debuts Westlaw Precision

New version of Westlaw enables lawyers to conduct research more than twice as fast and reduces risk of missing relevant cases

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL, September 14, 2022 Thomson Reuters today introduced Westlaw Precision, a new version of Westlaw designed to dramatically improve research speed and quality by enabling lawyers to target precisely what they are looking for: legal issues, issue outcomes, fact patterns, motion types, motion outcomes, causes of action, party types, and more. In addition to precise searching, new capabilities include expanded KeyCite functionality and optimized workflow tools.

“Our customers tell us difficult legal research can often take more than 10 hours per case,” said Mike Dahn, head of Product Management, Westlaw, Thomson Reuters. “It’s time consuming because they are often looking for something very precise, but traditional searching rarely allows for such precision. Our customers needed more precision in searching to substantially reduce research time. To do that, we made the largest-ever investment in our editorial operations, and the result is Precision Research.”

Addressing research challenges through precision in search

“Editorial excellence has long been at the heart of Westlaw,” said Leann Blanchfield, head of Primary Law, Editorial, Thomson Reuters. “To enable more precision in search, we added more than 250 new attorney editors to mark up and classify case law in more useful ways for our customers. For more than 100 years, we have classified legal issues with the West Key Number System. Now we are also classifying cases by issue outcome, fact pattern, motion type, motion outcome, cause of action, and party type. This enables customers to specify precisely what they want and retrieve it quickly.”

“If you’re working on a breach-of-contract case, for example, you may be searching for cases decided at motion to dismiss, where the breach claim involved failure to deliver goods, and the motion was granted because the breach-of-contract claim was insufficiently alleged,” Blanchfield added. “What complicates your research process is that ‘failure to deliver goods’ can be stated several ways, such as ‘refused to deliver the magnesium alloy’ or ‘the capacitors never arrived.’ And finding there was no breach of contract could be noted in dozens of ways too. You need a precise level of specificity to get it right.”

In testing with more than 100 practicing attorneys, those who used Precision Research found relevant cases more than twice as fast as those using traditional search methods. At the end of their research sessions, those who used Precision Research also found nearly twice as many relevant cases as those who researched with traditional methods.

Multiple law firms, including Shearman & Sterling LLP and Larson LLP, state courts, and corporations were part of the beta program and are using Westlaw Precision.

“What Westlaw Precision does is it takes the critical quality information that Westlaw already brings to the table and elevates it to a new level,” said Meredith Williams-Range, chief knowledge and client value officer, Shearman & Sterling, LLP. “One of the reasons we choose to continuously partner with Thomson Reuters and to be early adopters for the products that you bring to us is because you are changing the game that others are just not even coming to play in.”

Unparalleled speed and accuracy for searching, filtering, and browsing

Precision Research is one of six new research capabilities offered in Westlaw Precision. The other five are:

  • KeyCite Cited With: Shows related cases that have a pattern of being cited together even if neither cites the other
  • KeyCite Overruled in Part: Indicates, via a new red-striped flag, that a case has been overruled in part and enables navigation directly to the language in the case discussing the point of law that has been overruled
  • Graphical View of History: Displays a graphical visualization of research history, mapping out each step and highlighting the searches and documents with more research interaction
  • Keep List/Hide Details: Allows users to save cases of interest and hide cases they have determined are not relevant to current research
  • Outline Builder: Enables users to organize research with ease by dragging and dropping text into a customizable outline. Linked and formatted citations and KeyCite information integrate automatically, and the outline can easily be exported to begin drafting a brief

“Our testing demonstrated the value of Westlaw Precision, but we are just getting started,” said Dahn. “The editorial work we have done for more than a century has enabled us to do big things with artificial intelligence and machine learning in the last decade, and our additional investment in new editorial markup and classification lays the foundation for a new wave of innovation. While Westlaw Precision offers significant speed and quality benefits now, we will continue to provide even faster and better research in the future.”

Each iteration of Westlaw has delivered more confidence, efficiency, and accuracy in legal research, and Westlaw Precision continues that tradition, guided by the long history of editorial excellence and innovations that Thomson Reuters is known for. 

To learn more, visit the Westlaw Precision product page.

Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters is a leading provider of business information services. Our products include highly specialized information-enabled software and tools for legal, tax, accounting and compliance professionals combined with the world’s most global news service – Reuters. For more information on Thomson Reuters, visit and for the latest world news,


Jeff McCoy
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