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Text analysis software that summarizes federal legislation holds promise for other aids to in-house counsel

A website created by IBM researchers, Many Bills, analyzes the text of Congressional bills as they move through the legislative process. The site pools the work of other sites that collect and format federal legislation. If XML-type formats are used consistently, along the lines of the coding that must be applied to EDGAR filings, the power of computers to search, organize and display can be put to excellent use.

XML (eXtensible Markup Language) may be behind Many Bills. XML adds metadata to a document as computer-readable tags that describe data. In addition, XML documents can include information about keywords for search engine optimization, relationships between pieces of information, and the software used to create the XML file. Many Bills also could use a data language called Resource Description Framework (RDF). RDF lets a person name each item, such as a document, tag, piece of benchmark information, or PowerPoint presentation and the relations among the items in a way that allows software to automatically interchange information among them.

Why not have the same techniques applied to decisions reported by courts? And if that, why not do the same for update bulletins from law firms? Sites already collect them, but they do not have the coding inserted or the sophisticated analysis and portrayal capabilities. And then, why not the briefs filed in courts? In short order there will be coding of blog posts and social network comments. My futuristic scenario jumped off from an article in the NY Times, Dec. 20, 2010, at B3.