Our toolbox / by Daniel Hoadley


Something we’re quite passionate about here at ICLR&D is working to demystify the business of doing “innovative” things with legal information. That hinges on honesty and transparency and means avoiding the use of unhelpful buzzwords and showing our “working out” — how we go about scoping and solving problems.

As a starting point, we thought it might be helpful for us to set out what we have in our toolbox. Here we go.

Basic, boring and really useful stuff

  • Pencils (I’m a fan of the propelling variety)

  • Post-its — it’s nice to a mixture of sizes and colours

  • Pilot pens (the finer the better)

  • A3 paper

  • Sharpies 

  • Whiteboard

Project management and communications

  • Trello (the free version does everything we need it to)

  • Slack (keep it contained and make use of channels to manage conversations on particular topics, but don’t go bonkers and make too many channels)

  • Todoist

  • Dropbox (for moving big stuff around)

Rough and ready data management

  • Excel (begrudgingly, albeit)

  • OpenRefine (really good for getting a look at large tabular datasets that cause Excel to fall over)

Databases (not including Graph)

  • MarkLogic (for heavy-weight, production-grade stuff)

  • MongoDB (mainly for holding text data that doesn’t have structure)

  • PostgreSQL (for structured data)

Servers and cloud services

Development and IDEs

Data Science-y stuff

Graph (not to be confused with charts)

  • Neo4j (I can’t even begin to explain how brilliant this thing is)

  • Arrows (for modelling graph networks before moving to Neo4j and after drawing it on paper)