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On October 20th, 2016, a mix of technologists and lawyers gathered at the inaugural Legal Hackers Toronto Meetup.  Led by Mitchell Kowalski, the author of Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century, a panel of legal tech entrepreneurs discussed technology, achievements and challenges.

Aluvion CTO and “Chief Knowledge Seeker” Ken Ono attended the conference and shares his thoughts and insights below.

Common Challenges

The panel of experts had a lively discussion on the challenges of commercializing technology in the legal space. A common list of challenges emerged:

  • Will it work? There is a general fear that a computer won’t do the job as well as a human.
  • Status Quo is comfortable – Lawyers and clients alike feel lawyers’ ‘should’ do the work manually.
  • Innovation takes time and money – Do lawyers have time to save time?
  • Experiences with older, less useful Artificial Intelligence, taint expectations of current technologies
  • Many lawyers are just not comfortable making investments in technology;
  • Historically, an IT department’s job has been to ‘keep the lights on’ and many have no experience with driving innovation
  • Will an investment in automation make lawyers obsolete?
  • Concerns around security and cloud based technologies

Lawyers, as potential consumers of automation technology, fall into three categories:

  1. The Old Guard
    • Head in the sand, email-printing, don’t-waist-your-time-trying-to-sell-to-these-guys
  2. The Pretenders
    • They want to be seen as cool and progressive but unable to accept the true potential and disruptive nature of the technology and so their practice remains unchanged
  3. The Visionaries
    • They realize that major change is coming. By leveraging technology to lower the cost of delivering legal services and actively seeking ways to innovate

Which one of these lawyers you want to buy legal services from?

Aluvion is squarely in the “Visionaries” camp.  Contact us today to learn what we are doing to embrace the coming change.

The Way Forward – Ken’s Take

Change is always hard; hourly billing is still the dominant model yet it provides a perverse incentive to work inefficiently.

However, as consumers of legal services vote with their wallets to move to a more affordable and predictable, fixed cost legal service, the incentive structure will flip and legal tech will become a competitive imperative.

Because the consumerization of cloud based Artificial Intelligence systems and the modern architecture of new legal tech make the disruption of legal services inevitable,  the cost of delivering quality legal services will soon be a fraction of today’s costs and market forces will pass a big percentage of the savings to consumers. But for now, the development of legal tech will outpace its adoption.

The only question is: Which legal service providers will benefit?  

The Panel

Mona Datt, President and Co-Founder of loom ANALYTICS, has a team of lawyers and legal analysts categorizing public case law databases. Alberta and Ontario cases, going back 6 years, have been catalogued and work continues. Essentially, these human analysts are doing what a litigator does for an individual case while saving it for reuse.  Therefore, rather than lawyers repeating this process for each case as they come up, subscribers can do precedent searches and obtain outcome statistics for historical decisions.

Rob Warren, Chief Data Scientist at Kira Systems, discussed their approach of data extraction and provision recognition. Kira recognizes over 100 provisions and users can train their own recognizers.  Kira’s solution, currently targeting mid and large scale M&A transactions and used in over $100 billion in transaction value to date, augments a lawyer’s workflow by enhancing visibility into contracts making it quick and easy to get a picture of contract terms.

Cian O’Sullivan, Top Dog and Founder of Beagle.ai, has automated the repetitive process of reviewing contracts by using cognitive technology to make lawyers more efficient. Additionally, enables realtime collaboration with modern collaborative red-lining and tagging. Interfacing with beagle.ai can be as easy as sending an email and its self-learning algorithm learns what is important to its individual users.

Josh Borts, Co-founder of Functional Imperative and Lighthouse Labs, shared his passion for developing cool technology and their success in building custom software solutions for the legal industry.

Contact us to learn more about what Aluvion is doing in the field of legal automation and technological innovation.

Ken is an entrepreneurial technology executive who serves as Chief Technology Officer at Aluvion. Although, he could also be described as the Chief Knowledge Seeker.

Photo credit: Disney | ABC Television Group via Foter.com / CC BY-ND