Compass.law came on the scene with the 2016 acquisition of Canadian legal publishing icon Maritime Law Book (MLB). Building on the example of its predecessor, the new MLB sought "to once again lead a new revolution in case law access and legal research." Founded in 1969 and operating continuously from its Fredericton base, Maritime Law Book broke through with one of many leading innovations in Canadian case law publishing when it launched as an independent regional case law reporter. Over its first decade, MLB added regional reporters in all provinces outside Quebec; it created important national reporter series; and it developed a unique and much loved topical Key Number System. No less creative on the digital side, MLB was the first to include digital diskettes of its reported case law in the cover of its print reporters; it was the first (in 1997!) to transition to the world wide web as its digital platform; and it was the first commercial provider to make a substantial body of unedited case law available online at no charge through its Raw Law service. In the words of one commentator, "no one had done more [ ...than MLB...] to transform the nature of the case law reporting in this country." The benchmark and legacy of expectations was set for Compass.law.
Following one false start, the reborn MLB quickly re-launched in June 2017 with a world-class legal information processing engine that incorporated and built on the MLB Key Number System to permit topic-based searching, and that leveraged cutting edge natural language processing and other advanced technologies to make research easier and more efficient. This effort, undertaken in conjunction with global legal research partner (and new minority investor) vLex, and with the support of the open law pioneers at Justia (also new minority investors), attracted global attention and was highlighted as an example how North America was entering "the golden age of legal research innovation." Collaborative product development between Compass and vLex also resulted in the creation of a legal topic Machine Learning classifier based on the 150 topic and 48,000 sub-topic MLB Key Number System and "Vincent", the first AI-powered legal research assistant (it can read any document to identify and recommend relevant legal resources) to operate in multiple countries and two languages (English and Spanish). Though now a common feature of all advanced legal research platforms in the United States, the Compass-supported "vLex Canada" remains the only Canadian research platform to offer this capability.
vLex Canada was an immediate hit and in its first year was a finalist for the Canadian Association of Law Libraries top honour, the "Hugh Lawford Award for Excellence in Legal Publishing." vLex Canada, both on its own and as part of multi-country collections provided under the vLex Justis brand, is now used in many law schools, law firms and courts across the country, and is available under library subscriptions to every lawyer in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Compass.law was co-founded by its Chair and CEO, Colin Lachance (named in 2014 by Canadian Lawyer Magazine as one of Canada's Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers, named by American Bar Association's ABA Journal as one of nine "Legal Rebels" of 2014, and described by one prominent legal podcaster as Canada's Chief Legal Informatics Officer), and has been guided by a stellar Board of Directors with deep experience in breaking the status quo, doing things differently and setting the pace. Tim Stanley, Lluís Faus and Warren Tkachuk (also a co-founder) have created great companies that strive to make the world a better place, and Jordan Furlong (Director from May 2017 to July 2020) is a globally-renowned and highly sought after legal market analyst and futurist.
The September 2020 launch of the globally-unique Legal Innovation Data Institute (LIDI.ca) represents Compass' latest game-changing success. As a federally-incorporated not-for-profit organization, LIDI expands the circle of innovation and creation beyond traditional publishers by powering the efforts of legal and AI academic labs, law firms, publishers, startups and applied machine learning companies through bulk access to the Compass Canadian case law collection. Transformation of a knowledge industry demands we look beyond the traditional and tap the intelligence, drive and resources of all who can make a difference, and Compass is proud to enable this transformation through LIDI.
The Compass.law influence on legal innovation in Canada and beyond is just beginning. If you want to be a part of creating the future of law, we are always open to collaboration. Drop us a line.
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