Thomson Reuters has a long history as a leader in leveraging AI and machine learning, with a legacy of innovation that began more than 150 years ago. The company’s early innovations have been foundational in driving ongoing technology advancements, using increasingly sophisticated AI and machine-learning capabilities to improve search and expand analytics through product advances.

To further integrate AI capabilities into its offerings, Thomson Reuters announced it is investing more than $100 million per year in the next few years during its first-quarter results call on May 2. Legal Current looks at 10 key moments in the company’s tradition of customer-driven innovation – and how generative AI is an opportunity for Thomson Reuters to extend its leadership in legal research and workflow software.

  1. 1975– Westlaw is computerized with the West Automated Law Terminal (WALT), culminating 10 years of research and development. WALT enabled legal researchers to quickly pinpoint the information needed, drastically reducing research time.
  2. 1993– Westlaw is Natural (WIN), the first commercially available search engine, arrived. WIN recognizes natural English language search queries rather than requiring Boolean logic, simplifying legal search for lawyers.
  3. 1997– Westlaw revolutionized citator research with the introduction of KeyCite. The electronic citation service quickly verifies whether a case, statute, regulation, or administrative decision is still good law, saving legal researchers time while helping them find, understand, and update the law.
  4. 1998– New is released as the first web-based version of Westlaw, making the product accessible to legal professionals from any internet browser instead of requiring installed software.
  5. 2003 – Westlaw adds AI-based recommender engine. Westlaw introduced ResultsPlus, a content- and behavior-based recommender system for legal researchers.
  6. 2010 – Thomson Reuters launches WestlawNext, which was designed in close collaboration with customers. WestlawNext combined search and editorial intelligence with the latest technological innovations. With the power of WestSearch, a suite of learning-to-rank algorithms trained on legal content, meta-data and user behavior, a single search scoured multiple databases and tools allowed users to filter, tag, and folder information.
  7. 2018 – Westlaw Edge, the most intelligent legal research platform ever, is released. Westlaw Edge includes access to first-of-its-kind tools like KeyCite Overruling Risk, a powerful legal search engine, and integrated litigation analytics that helps expedite legal research tasks that were once incredibly complex and time-consuming.
  8. 2019 – Quick Check on Westlaw Edge is introduced. The intelligent document analysis tool enables legal researchers to save valuable time finding and verifying authority.
  9. 2021– Practical Law Dynamic Tool Set is launched. Thomson Reuters applied AI functionality to a new proprietary editorial content set from Practical Law, including an AI-driven question-answering feature that leverages the legal expertise of the business’s attorney editors to provide answers to legal research questions, along with links to relevant Practical Law content.
  10. 2022Westlaw Precision is launched, dramatically improving research speed and quality for legal professionals. Its six new research capabilities – Precision Research, KeyCite Cited With, KeyCite Overruled in Part, Graphical View of History, Keep List/Hide Details, and Outline Builder – help legal professionals conduct research more than twice as fast and target precisely what they are looking for.

Thomson Reuters is on track to incorporate generative AI capabilities into its products in the second half of 2023, after working with and testing large language models (LLMs) for years. Already being deeply embedded in legal professionals’ workflows gives Thomson Reuters a strong starting point from which to incorporate new capabilities. Thomson Reuters is leveraging its strengths – authoritative content, advanced search capabilities, and subject matter experts – to harness the potential of generative AI and provide legal professionals with more conversational experiences, time savings, intuitive automation, and a significantly improved user experience.

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