The Most Human Lawyer

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Joe Borstein, Above the Law (November 12, 2018) — Today, legal startups are raising tremendous funding rounds in order to automate legal tasks like contract drafting, document review, and even challenging parking tickets! But many of the most soul-crushing, expensive and low-value tasks associated with litigation are still be handled by people-lawyers. I personally worked on a set of boilerplate interrogatory responses so voluminous it crashed Microsoft Word, which is a thing that can happen.

Today, a ray of hope:James Lee, a Stanford educated litigator, has developed a new technology with the potential to revolutionize litigation —LegalMation. In a nutshell, LegalMation uses machine learning to automatically draft responsive litigation documents such as answers, responses, and interrogatories (which would take hours for a junior associate). For example, within moments of uploading your opposition’s complaint, you will have a competent draft response, which goes so far as to pull out key quotations from the complaint and question their basis in fact (I saw this with my own eyes). This is big!

My excitement about LegalMation immediately made me think of a favorite book of mine: The Most Human Human. The central topic of the book is a contest (the Turing test) where both AI and humans are tested through computer chat conversation to see not just which AI bot emulates human conversation best (the Most Human Computer) AND which human emulates humans the best (the Most Human Human).

The author finds that humanity in conversation (or creativity, or “je ne sais quoi”) emerges from those portions of conversation outside of what the author calls, “The Book.” Communications inside “The Book,”could be from a robot. These include phrases that are canned, memorized, or automatic (“How are you,” “I’m good, you,” “Good”). The concept itself is taken from the world of chess, where “The Book” refers to a database of chess moves, which high-level players have memorized. It’s only when a player steps out of “The Book” that their genius (or lack thereof) emerges.

In the world of litigation documents, much of what we draft is within “The Book.” Think of a legal standard section or boilerplateobjections to discovery requests. These sections, can and should be pulled from prior work product, automated away or, at least selected from a defined list of choices.Writing in “The Book” is the legal equivalent of small talk, if small talk was outrageously expensive and soul destroying.But outside of “The Book”… ahhhh… that’s where legal dreams are made. Outside of “The Book” we apply fact to law; we craft an argument no one has ever heard before; we become a most human lawyer.James Lee never told me he sought to increase the humanity in legal papers. But James and his company LegalMation have taken a meaningful step toward getting lawyers out of The Book and into the world of humanity.Enjoy the interview!Joe Borstein: James, great to meet you. Tell me quickly about your background as a heavy hitter in litigation, and how it led you to the alt.legal world of disruptive legal technology!

James Lee: After I left Quinn Emanuel to start a boutique litigation firm with other QE attorneys, we quickly realized that using technological solutions could level the playing field when we were up against larger firms. Whereas large firms were bringing armies to the fight, we acted more like commandos —operating faster, smarter, and more efficiently. Technology was a force multiplier for us.Two years ago, we started to explore whether we could leverage AI to make litigation more efficient and accurate. We launched LegalMation to do just that —to solve real pain points experienced bylitigators. So today, we’re able to do several early litigation related tasks that would normally take an attorney several hours to complete in about 2 minutes.

JB: In this column, we have discussed “the legal innovation paradox,” in which all innovationthat saves lawyers time, also costs them (short term) revenue on a matter. How do you get around the paradox and convince lawyers that legal innovation is good for their practice AND their clients?

JL: We’re not going to convince 100 percent of litigators to embrace our platform. Some still prefer to use Post-Its and to print out physical copies of all their documents and to put them in binders. But those attorneys are quickly dwindling in number —either through retirement or being asked to leave the firm due to a lack of productivity and profitability.But, more importantly, corporate legal departments are pushing these technological solutions. The practice of law is changing at a very fast pace, and the forward-thinking firms are embracing changes that their clients demand.I wish law firms could be traded on the public stock market because I know which firms to bet long on and on which to bet short. We’re working with firms that are actively looking for ways to leverage technology to make their practices more profitable as opposed to just marginally profitable or breakeven. These firms are also looking to win a larger market share from firms that are falling asleep at the switch.

JB: So is embracing tech just about market share, or can it grow the legalpie too? We hear a lot about legal innovation sapping demand for lawyers hours, but I’ve argued that it should be able to unlock latent demand as well. What are your thoughts?

JL: We have already seen under-represented parts of the legal market being served in ways that were previously not possible because of new efficiencies in the marketplace. In other words, innovation gives you increased flexibility in considering whether to take on a matter. With the right technology solution, matters that were previously breakeven can now become very profitable and worth handling.But more importantly, now that we demonstrated that the process/volume layer of litigation work can be automated, you can now re-allocate those hours to other aspects of legal practice that will yield better outcomes because you can now spend more time doing higher value tasks such as doing better investigations, having more time to prepare your depositions, and spending more time writing better legal briefs.We’re working with Walmart, for example, and they make it very clear to their outside counsel that they want their lawyers to take those time savings and focus on other more important aspects of their matters. The macro effect of these changes means that lawyers will be able to become better lawyers and deliver better outcomes.

JB: So, you point out that with innovation the cost of representation could come down, rendering formerly unprofitable matters or clients suddenly profitable. It makes me think about the access to justice issuesand pro bono. How far can the benefits trickle down?

JL: This is a great example of how the legal market will be transformed in a very positive way. On a personal level, I’m very excited about taking our AI litigation platform and plugging it into pro bono and public interest organizations as they handle their litigation matters for the underserved. When we’re able to save several hours per matter automating the process/volume layer of work, we just freed up their staff attorneys to spend more time with clients, to do more thorough investigations, and to outreach to a larger portion of the community that previously did not have access to these services. This type of result should be important to all of us. Law is an unnecessarily complicated collection of byzantine rules and procedures —this shouldn’t be a bar to get fair and equal access to the courts.

JB: If you believe the hype, there is a T-1000 about to walk into the Southern District and argue motions to dismiss. In reality, how far can legal technology go? What other litigation activities can you see being automated? And for our new lawyers out there, what skills can NEVER be automated?

JL: First, don’t believe all the hype in this space.We are very far away from the notion of singularity happening in the legal practice space. There are too many nuances involved in higher level strategic decision making that good lawyers need to make every day based on unique facts or circumstances of every case. You simply cannot teach or train a system to anticipate all these issues. It will be a long time before any AI system will be able to write a Supreme Court brief for example because that level of abstraction, contextualization, and integration is beyond what is capable of any AI system today.One way to think about this to ask yourself who would you rather have making a decision, Captain Kirk or Spock? Well, that answer will depend on what you’re asking. There are some circumstances where you undeniably want Spock if you’re trying to figure out the probability of whether a certain volcano will explode or what your odds of survival are when that explosion occurs. But there are other decisions where you absolutely want Captain Kirk to make because he is better at integrating a host of quantifiable and non-quantifiable factors to make an informed decision.This dichotomy also exists in the AI space. AI is great at tackling volume/process work. But ask an AI platform to make a judgment call as to which witness engenders more sympathy and credibility on the stand and in which order you might want to have the witnesses testify, and you’ll see where an experienced attorney becomes crucial to the successful outcome of the case.

JB: I have argued that in the next decade there will be one or more lawyer billionaires (a legal Bezos, if you will), but they will have gotten there from solving legal problems at scale with technology & outsourcing (or both), rather than through the traditional practice of law (see here). Do you agree?

JL: I’m reminded of a talk that Guy Kawasaki has given regarding the evolution of the ice harvesting industry.In the 1800’s, people in horse drawn carriages would go to the frozen lake to cut blocks of ice to sell in markets miles away from the lake. Their idea of innovation was to use better saws or find more horses to transport the ice to market faster. Eventually, the market changed because ice manufacturing companies started to make ice in the cities and then still decades later, youcan now make ice at home in your own freezer. Guy Kawasaki points out that it was always a new group of innovators who saw an opportunity to raise the bar to a new innovation curve —leaving the prior group behind.In the legal market today, you have attorneys who are still trying to find better saws, and thinking that this is innovation. What they don’t realize is that larger more scalable technologies are out there that are more akin to the home freezer that can do the same work or deliver the same service or product faster, cheaper, and better.

JB: Thanks James, really provocative stuff!

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Platform Overview

LegalMation provides a suite of Artificial Intelligence tools to help practicing attorneys and legal professionals automate routine litigation tasks. Unlike existing template generators and form-fillers, LegalMation's ground-breaking AI system is able to dynamically produce responsive pleadings, discovery requests, discovery responses, and related documents that are tailored to the claims, allegations, and requests in the legal document uploaded, incorporating jurisdictional requirements as well as the attorney’s own style, formatting, and response strategy. Developed by a passionate group of award-winning litigators and highly accomplished software developers, LegalMation is focused on liberating litigators to allow them to focus on more valuable tasks in their practice..

LegalMation distinguishes itself from other Artificial Intelligence products in several key aspects.:

  • LegalMation is the first Artificial Intelligence company to focus solely on using AI to automate and enhance litigation tasks.
  • LegalMation uses cutting-edge AI to power its platform and, unlike some other legal tech platforms, LegalMation requires no human involvement to generate its output.
  • LegalMation is not a template generator, form-filler, or other Q&A-driven tool. Rather, our A.I. solutions generate actual work product--caliber drafts of legal documents comparable to that of an attorney or legal professional that only require minor editing and basic review before filing/serving. Drafting these documents from scratch often takes an associate attorney or paralegal an entire day, but our products can produce comparable high-quality drafts in mere minutes.
  • LegalMation’s solutions are ready to use out-of-the-box. You can be up and running on our platform in a matter of minutes.
  • LegalMation’s solutions are fully customizable to your needs. LegalMation can customize the style, content, and strategy behind how its output is created to mirror your current output.
  • LegalMation’s solutions are easy to use and require no computer knowledge besides how to use a mouse and keyboard. Our products are browser-based; there is nothing to download or install. The interface is simple and clean, and designed to be accessible to even the least tech-savvy. As a result, the adoption cost for integrating LegalMation to an existing organization's workflow is very, very low.

Corporate In-House Case Study

A leading global retail giant achieves significant savings on legal fees on its high-volume litigation matters using LegalMation’s Complaint Analysis tool.

The Legal Operations group of a leading global retailer with significant litigation volume across the country was searching for technology tools to increase efficiency and consistency on its litigation matters, lower its legal spend, and obtain more value from outside counsel. Working with LegalMation, the retailer identified two litigation areas with large volume where the deployment of LegalMation’s Complaint Analysis tool could have a significant impact: employment and premises liability tort litigation.

The retailer conducted a pilot of LegalMation’s Complaint Analysis tool by asking select outside counsel to run complaints through the LegalMation Complaint Analysis tool and compare the outputs to those generated by the firm’s typical workflow.  LegalMation’s Complaint Analysis tool was able to generate an answer, requests for production and interrogatories that were almost identical to those generated by outside counsel and tailored to the facts and allegations of each.

Today, this global retailer has made LegalMation an integral part of its workflow and case assignment process. When a new lawsuit is served on the retailer in one of the jurisdictions where LegalMation operates, an in-house paralegal runs the complaint through LegalMation’s Complaint Analysis tool and sends the output, consisting of an answer, requests for production, interrogatories, and other jurisdiction or firm-specific output to the selected outside counsel for the matter.  Outside counsel then bills the retailer solely for the time spent reviewing and editing this initial output which generates significant savings for the global retailer.

Challenge

  • Increasing budgetary pressure to lower outside counsel legal fees
  • Obtain more value from hours billed by outside counsel
  • Lack of consistency in work product and quality from outside counsel

Solution

  • Deploy LegalMation internally to generate initial draft responsive documents in minutes
  • Integrate LegalMation into its initial case assignment process

Results

  • Up to 80% savings on outside counsel legal fees on key early stage litigation document drafting.
  • Reallocation of outside counsel time away from process/routine work to higher value strategic tasks.
  • Increased consistency and quality in work product

Large Firm Case Study

An Am Law 100 labor and employment law firm was searching for ways to become more competitive and capture more market share

Handling over 5,000 employment related litigation matters per year across the country, the Am Law 100 law firm (the “Firm”) needed a quantifiable solution to lower its servicing costs and provide more value to its national clients. The Firm engaged in extensive testing of LegalMation’s platform across multiple offices to determine its effectiveness.

Using LegalMation’s Complaint Analysis tool, the Firm was able to reduce the attorney time spent preparing answers, affirmative defenses, and initial written discovery (requests for production, interrogatories, and other jurisdiction-specific requests) from an average of 6-8 hours per matter, to less than 1 hour (including review time by an attorney). The Firm tested LegalMation’s tools across multiple types of employment cases across various jurisdictions and concluded that the resulting draft documents were not only produced incredibly fast, but were also consistent in quality.

Today, the Firm is able to offer more competitive proposals for its volume matters, which in turn allows it to obtain additional work from national clients.

Challenge

  • Downward price pressure in high-volume, lower-exposure matters
  • Making Alternative Fee Arrangements more competitive and yet more profitable
  • Differentiate from competitors during marketing pitches
  • Lack of work product consistency from associates/paralegals

Solution

  • Integrate LegalMation into volume litigation matters in the Firm’s busiest offices

Results

  • Up to 80% time savings on key litigation tasks
  • Higher profit margins on volume matters, particularly those on AFAs
  • More distinctive marketing
  • Higher levels of associate satisfaction

SMALL LAW Firm Case Study

A high-caliber general litigation boutique reduced paralegal and associate time and money expended on key early litigation tasks by 75%+

A general litigation boutique with around 40 attorneys needed to cut costs in order to stay competitive in a very crowded local market and also sought to minimize reliance on support staff.

Using LegalMation’s platform, the boutique law firm was able to reduce the attorney (and paralegal) time spent preparing answers, initial discovery (requests for production and interrogatories), and discovery responses, including objections, from several hours per matter, to less than 1 hour (including review time by a supervising attorney). The boutique firm tested LegalMation’s Complaint Analysis tool and Discovery Analysis tool across multiple practice areas and concluded that the resulting draft documents were not only produced incredibly fast but also with consistency and quality similar to its own junior attorneys and paralegals. In particular, the boutique law frim, which did not have the luxury of a large support staff, found LegalMation’s Discovery Request tool particularly helpful in dealing with burdensome discovery requests served on its clients.

Today, the boutique law firm is able to offer more competitive proposals for its matters and through the efficiency gained by LegalMation’s platform compete against national law firms with more resources.

Challenge

  • Downward price pressure due to a crowded local market
  • Limited associate/paralegal resources to handle routine drafting tasks
  • Compete against national law firms with more resources
  • Differentiate from competitors during marketing pitches
  • Lack of work product consistency from associates/paralegals

Solution

  • Deploy LegalMation’s Complaint Analysis tool to generate initial draft responsive pleadings, and the Discovery Analysis tool to quickly generate shells and responsive objections throughout the life of a case

Results

  • 70-85% time savings on key litigation tasks
  • Higher profit margins on volume matters, particularly those on AFAs
  • More distinctive marketing
  • Higher levels of associate satisfaction
  • Reduced staff overtime
 

Success Story

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John Smith,
Company Name
James M. Lee
Co-Founder & CEO

James M. Lee is co-founder and CEO of LegalMation. He is a founding partner of LTL Attorneys LLP, a nationally recognized litigation boutique. As an experienced litigator, he has tried numerous cases in federal and state courts. He has been recognized as a top business litigator by various legal publications including the National Law Journal. James has served as lead counsel to a number of Fortune and multinational clients including Wal-Mart, Thomson Reuters, Symantec, and VIZIO. He was formerly associated with litigation powerhouse Quinn Emanuel before co-founding LTL Attorneys. He is a frequent and noted speaker and commentator in the field of AI and innovations in the field of law. He received his J.D. from Stanford Law School, and his B.S. from the University of Southern California. At LegalMation, James serves as the key driver of the Company’s vision and strategy.

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Insurance COMPANY Case Study

A national insurance carrier achieves significant savings on its high-volume, low exposure litigation matters through its adoption of LegalMation’s Complaint Analysis tool

A national insurance carrier with significant litigation volume across the country for its insureds, was searching for technology, tools, and processes to increase efficiency on its litigation matters to lower its litigation costs. This national insurance carrier partnered with LegalMation to identify an area of litigation where LegalMation could have a significant and immediate impact and decided to deploy LegalMation’s Complaint Analysis tool for all of its third-party motor vehicle tort litigation.

LegalMation worked closely with the national insurance carrier to customize the output from its platform to generate documents that mirrored the current output of the national insurance carrier’s attorneys and paralegals.  LegalMation was able to automate the creation of an answer, requests for production of documents, interrogatories, requests for admissions, and deposition notices, all tailored to the facts and allegations of each complaint and almost indistinguishable from those manually created by the insurance company’s attorneys and paralegals.  LegalMation was able to generate this output in 2-3 minutes—a significant time savings over the insurance company’s prior practice for generating this output.

Following a pilot program consisting of processing all of its complaints for a single jurisdiction through LegalMation, the national insurance company made LegalMation an integral part of its workflow for all jurisdictions where LegalMation currently operates. In these jurisdictions, when a new motor vehicle-related lawsuit is served on the insurance company or its insureds, the assigned counsel or paralegal runs the complaint through the LegalMation Complaint Analysis tool, downloads the initial outputs, which are then reviewed by the attorney or paralegal and finalized, all within a few minutes.

Challenge

  • Increasing budgetary pressure to lower legal spend on defense of insureds
  • Obtain more value from staff counsel
  • Reduce legal secretary/paralegal overtime

Solution

  • Deploy LegalMation internally so staff/captive counsel can generate initial response draft documents in minutes

Results

  • Up to 80% time savings on key litigation tasks
  • Reallocation of staff/captive counsel time away from process/volume work to higher value strategic tasks
  • Increased consistency and quality in work product

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