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Keyword Search vs Semantic Search: What's the Difference and Why It Matters

In the legal profession, researching past cases and deals is paramount, and the method you use to dig through mountains of your firm’s information can make a world of difference. Let's discuss two different search methods: keyword search and semantic search, and why understanding the difference can revolutionize the way you work.

Traditional Keyword Search

Keyword search

In a traditional keyword search, the search engine looks for exact matches of the words or phrases you type into the search bar. This method has been the backbone of search engines for many years, and it's straightforward: you search "fraudulent accounting practices," you get all documents containing the words "fraudulent", "accounting" and "practices."

But, this can lead to two significant problems.

  • Firstly, it can produce an overwhelming number of results. You'll end up sifting through numerous documents that mentioned your keywords but aren't necessarily relevant to what you're looking for.
  • Secondly, it's a bit rigid. If a document discusses fraudulent accounting practices but uses different terminology or synonyms, your keyword search might overlook it.

The Power of Semantic Search

Semantic search

This innovative approach doesn't just look for exact keyword matches; it understands the searcher's intent and the contextual meaning of terms. In other words, it reads between the lines. So, when you search "fraudulent accounting practices," it will return documents discussing the relevant topic, even if they don't include the exact words "fraudulent", “accounting” and "practices".

The benefits are two-fold.

  • Firstly, it increases precision. By understanding the context of your search, semantic search ensures the results are more relevant, saving you time.
  • Secondly, it improves comprehensiveness. It can pick up on synonyms, related terms, and contextually relevant documents that a keyword search might miss.

At DeepJudge, we help attorneys to find and leverage knowledge hidden in their firm’s document database via our Semantic Knowledge Search. This involves easy and intuitive access to previous and precedent contracts, memos, clauses, templates and more, and integrates automatically with the DMS to offer a seamless knowledge retrieval experience. DeepJudge deploys proprietary Artificial Intelligence models to understand the content within each document regardless of document type, and enables attorneys to search in their own words, without struggling to find the perfect keywords. With DeepJudge’s Knowledge Search, attorneys can streamline their drafting and reviewing processes across the legal domain and prove relevant competence to potential clients instantly by references similar deals.

So, keyword search or semantic search? Spoiler, at DeepJudge we are absolutely convinced that the right answer is semantic. The sheer efficiency and relevance of semantic search results make it a powerful tool for legal professionals and beyond. For a profession where every minute matters and the quality of research can make or break a case, semantic search offers a smart way to navigate the information landscape and leverage the experience and expertise that give your firm a competitive edge. By bridging the gap between human language and machine understanding, semantic search brings us closer to a more intuitive and efficient digital world.

So, think about the current knowledge retrieval experience and ask yourself, what could semantic search do for me?

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