All Collections
CoCounsel
CoCounsel Core Skills
CoCounsel Core: Search a Database
CoCounsel Core: Search a Database

Learn to search large sets of data with CoCounsel

Ryan Groff avatar
Written by Ryan Groff
Updated over a week ago

Legal tasks often require searches across large sets of data, like litigation and e-discovery records, or internal banks of briefs or contracts. CoCounsel uses search queries to quickly identify responsive information.

A. How the AI works


Select a database and enter the search query in plain language. CoCounsel then searches the database and returns a list of relevant files and provides links to the full text and specific pages that answer your question. How do I create and maintain CoCounsel Core databases?

1. Getting started

At the bottom of the chat, select "⊕ Upload" and "Search an entire database." A list of your databases will appear.

2. Select a database

A list of your databases will appear. A database is in this list because either:

  1. You created it

  2. Someone at your organization created it and shared it with you

Use the search box and filters to find and select a database. Then click "Select database."

3. Enter the query

CoCounsel confirms the selected database. Enter the query into the chat, then press Enter or send the message.

4. CoCounsel interprets your request

Make edits, cancel, or click "Submit request."

5. CoCounsel searches the database for responsive information

A bar shows CoCounsel's progress. Click "Email me when complete" to be notified when your results are ready. You may also cancel your request or click "View results" to watch CoCounsel work.

6. Navigate and verify the results

When the results are ready, click "View results."

The results confirm the Request, provide a narrative Response, and list the most relevant supporting Documents.

Each document has a collapsible/expandable heading with a link to the full text of the document and quoted highlights of relevant sections of the document.

Click document titles for the full text, or click a pincite to open the document to that page. The document opens in a new tab in the web browser.

7. Use the results

Download or copy the results.

Select documents for follow-up.

Checkboxes will appear next to each document. Check individual boxes or check "Select all." Click "Submit" or "Cancel."

The selected documents are added to the chat for follow-ups, like a summary of each document.

B. Tips and samples


Tips

Overall

CoCounsel understands nuance, humor, and implied references. This means CoCounsel finds information and references that traditional search engines cannot. The best requests are specific, clear, precise, and concise.

Be specific and clear

  • Use narrow, specific questions.

  • It’s better to ask multiple, narrow questions rather than a single broad question.

Broad: What was the Planned Parenthood case about?

Better: What were the elements of the court’s reasoning in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)?

CoCounsel may try to “help” by focusing on one portion of a longer, complex, overbroad question.

Be precise and concise

  • Avoid using vague or ambiguous language, like passive voice.

  • Spell out legal terms a law student might not know.

  • Grammatical and spelling errors in a question can be misinterpreted.

Passive voice: Where the defense was sided with by the court.

Active voice: Where the court sided with the defense.

Wordy: Cases where there was a minor who was the plaintiff, and who was also under the age of 14 at the time of the alleged events that the court was considering.

Better: Cases with a minor plaintiff under the age of 14.

Example prompts

Ineffective prompt

Improved prompt

Reasons for improvement

Find me all force majeure clauses in that refer or relate to Acme’s liability in the event of a pandemic.

Under the force majeure clauses in the manufacturing contracts, could Acme be held liable for the losses resulting from a pandemic?

  • Asks for a high-level synopsis, rather than a list of all documents

  • Revised to more precisely describe the issue and objective of CoCounsel’s search

What is the most expensive invoice in the database?

Are there any invoices that exceed the $100 limit for meals?

  • Avoids asking CoCounsel to perform a mathematical analysis

  • Avoids asking CoCounsel to compare one document to another

  • Asks a more precise question

Find all emails from Andrew Fastow that refer or relate to unethical accounting practices.

Did Andrew Fastow know about unethical accounting practices?

Asks for a high-level synopsis, rather than a list of all documents

Samples

Searching a database of Enron emails

Query: Did Andrew Fastow know about unethical accounting practices?

This prompt shows how CoCounsel uses the context of your request to find responsive documents. Instead of asking for a list of all emails by Andrew Fastow, this prompt asks CoCounsel to search the database for emails with content indicating that Andrew Fastow had knowledge of wrongdoing. CoCounsel is essentially “reading” relevant documents in the database for context, not just a certain keyword.

Searching an umbrella patent database

Query: Does a patent exist for an anti-inversion umbrella with a removable cuff?

This search illustrates a prompt that goes beyond asking for a list of documents. Patents can be difficult to read and understand, but CoCounsel can understand and search for the context of your request to find responsive documents, even when the dataset includes complex, technical content.

Searching a database of estate planning documents

Query: What language do I need to include in a pet trust?

This prompt shows how you can create and use databases of estate planning documents, like wills and trusts, to find provisions in prior documents that can be used in current drafting projects. This prompt also makes use of CoCounsel’s ability to understand context.

C. Limitations


General

This skill does not conduct a word-by-word review of all documents.

Search a Database will run searches based on your question and summarize the results that are relevant. It will not review documents that are not returned by its searches.

Avoid asking questions that require CoCounsel to perform a mathematical calculation.

Large language models can struggle with math. In addition, because this skill only provides summaries based on search results, it should not be used to answer questions that require a mathematical analysis of your entire database.

Input limits

Query: ~1,000 characters

Output limits

The Response will include the most relevant results. While there will not always be this many relevant results, the Response may include:

  • Up to 225 documents

  • Unlimited highlighted quotes within a document

Did this answer your question?