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The Future of The Legal Industry


Dr. Cain Elliot

Society has grown more complex and more polarized. That increases the likelihood of complicated disputes. How is the legal industry evolving to deal with hyperconnected society?  Dr. Cain Elliott tells the Futurists how the legal profession is digitizing to move faster and operate more efficiently. But the motivation to change is coming from clients, not from attorneys. Topics: the broken business model of legal services, the political and regulatory barriers to change, the transformative potential of legal tech.

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this week on the futurists Kane Elliott who would want to be on trial
for their lives and say Well it may have hallucinated the facts of the case but let's go for it no I don't think
[Music] so hi and welcome back to the futurists
I'm Rob Turk and this week in the co-host chair is my friend Brian siss
Brian hi great to see you again how you been hey robertt it's it's been a it's been a while but it is so good to be
back thank you grill to see you uh our friend Brett is on the road as he seems to be half the time uh always going to
cool new places and finding cool new people so that's a good thing um and you survived this tremendous winter we've
had in California with rain after rain after rain after rain these torrential rainstorms intact I hope that your roof
and your house is okay you know I I like everybody basically in Los Angeles and
Southern Califor California I also learned that I have roof leaks
so this is how the this is how the roofing profession Works in California nobody has nobody calls them for seven
years and then all of a sudden everybody calls and goes I've got a roof ug yeah it's funny it's a uh it's a widespread
problem uh that was a tremendous experience I remember rain you know those atmospheric Rivers uh that that phrase seems kind of romantic you know
if when you hear like o atmospheric river that sounds nice I'd like to have dinner at that place and
and it's like a vertical flood you know where water is pouring off both sides simultaneously and you're like wow that is that's like astonishing experience to
live through um well we are here to talk about the future not not the rainstorms
and uh each week what we love to do is uh introduce a guest who is actively
working on the future that's one of the premises of this show it's not just talking about the future or speculating about the future it's actually talking
to people who are doing something today to change the future and one of the things I was thinking about this weekend
as we were getting ready for the show is that um there are still some industries that haven't changed there are still
some industries that are bound to the past and the past kind of weighs them down like an anchor uh and and that's
sometimes because of regulations and laws and sometimes it's because of traditions and process and so forth but
there are a few industries that are sort of um resistant to change I'll give you an example uh I was talking to a doctor
for a matter recently and the doctor was like well why don't you why don't you fact that stuff to me or you want the
fact something to me and I said to the doctor I said I don't have there's there aren't fax machines where I live and he
said where do you live and I said I live in the 21st
century because like where and when do you live like give me a break we haven't
had a fax machine for 30 years now uh but that industry runs on paper and of
course uh speaking of paper no industry is more bound to the paper world than
the Le leg profession if you've ever gone to court you see that pathetic spectacle of these attorneys in their
fancy suits going through metal detectors and they all have their little wheelie carts with Stacks and stacks of
paper behind them and they have to pick up those boxes and stick them through the stick them through the the X-ray machine so that they can get into their
courtroom and I keep thinking to myself when is this industry G to get digitized so let's give a big Welcome to
our guest Kane Elliot Kane comes to us from filevine which is a that's trying
to digitize the legal profession based in Utah hey Kane welcome to the show Welcome to the futurists thank you
Robert and Brian I'm really happy to be here and um really uh excited to talk to you guys about legal Futures which is
something that does in fact exist despite the appearances that the profession tries to give
sometimes that's great so you uh you you folks are in the business of attacking that pile of paper that I referred to a
second ago that the the the that the poor attorneys have to haul around with them we are and and in fact as I had
mentioned um I think sometimes that kind of paper is hauled around just as much for psychological effect as it is um for
the actual effectuation of something in court but um yeah when I when I think about the legal profession I I try to
take a very long view my background is as a doctor in is a philosophy and so I
try to look at the profession over the long term of the last few hundred years
and um really try to understand how things have moved in a way that it it's
very incremental I know in the introduction you you brought up medicine that's the only industry that seems to
change slower than legal adoption cycles and legal take about three to five years on average just to accept a new uh type
of technology so it is slow moving but there's some good reasons that it's slow moving yeah what are some of the reasons
I'm curious about that is that because they have to deal with the court and the court itself moves slowly or is there some other reason that the legal
profession evolves so slowly there institutional mechanisms like Courts for for sure that play a role and part but I
think the other is look in the whole anglo-american tradition it's a system that brings up attorneys en
culturatti that what comes before is really important so if you imagine you're in a profession that all the time
is telling you everything that came before is really important and there for a reason so that creates a cultural
disposition in which uh standards are established but the other thing is you know High precision and high stakes work
means that people are very averse to the potential for a change that introduces
the potential for error um and it's the stakes really that makes so many people
have versed to change if you say look I learned the profession this way I'm doing it to the best I can uh for my
clients in this way if I take the risk of changing or adopting some new
technology or working in a different way am I somehow putting them at risk um and
making a mistake and I think those Stakes ratcheting up Stakes like medicine mean that people worry about
risk taking in a very different way that a lot of us maybe in other professions think risk taking and risk adjudication
becomes a very different proposition oh so you're saying that someone achieves a level a certain level of proficiency uh
in the illegal profession and maybe a level of fame or notoriety I guess depending on depending on the kind of
attorney right um and they want to preserve that so they don't want to mess around with their process too much um
because it's it's taken them years to get to that point uh so I would imagine for an attorney like that uh who has a
thriving practice who's got a workflow that's really well honed that they understand very well I would imagine for
an attorney like that that the prospect of digital disruption is is really scary it's probably really traumatizing it's
scary it's it's also the fact though that I think the reason that legal is so
interested right now in in technology and has been for the last 10 years is because the scale of legal work has
gotten so much larger so the actual number of cases the actual number of
work that attorneys are taking on is much much larger than it was historically um and something has to
give right and so the answer is you can have a lot more attorneys which we don't have actually coming out despite what
people might think about Law School attendance um and if you don't have a lot more attorneys the only thing you
can do is get more efficient to stay up to the workload um and so so that breaking point is what uh really
inspires most people's interest where is this uh where is this massive increase in legal work happening is it happening
with individuals is it happening with like legal matters like court cases or is it happening inside of Corporations
uh both all of the above so uh disputes are are on the rise in every
jurisdiction you can name um we we're all very well versed and known that
we're a very litigious Society um at least here in North America we do a really good job of that um as our main
recourse to to resolve things but the other thing is in fact that the more complex societies become you know a
thematic that you guys have talked a lot about on this show but the more complex societies become the more uh there
opportunities potentials or uh Necessities for trying to resolve disputes about those complexities and so
the law becomes more and more crucial if I could just ask well two two things one's an observation next part is
a question the observation is also Society that's becoming increasingly polarized as well which creates
opportunities for increased tension of which we can we could philosophize about that over wine some night but there's
something very interesting that you said that threw off all the light bulbs which was based on precedent it's the stakes
that prevent change increases the worrying about risk-taking nothing about
what you just said is solely related to the legal industry I work I work in
Innovation and that is what every executive or every leader or every
industry says it's the stakes we've got this honed why rock the boat and now we
start to really think about the future as looking a lot like the past and it's
even clear in our own words that we use out of coid it was new normal and the
future was next normal but in honest in all honesty I think it's always been
creativity Tech technology digital that's pushed us forward it's the creative brain it's the risk taker it's
The Confident person who knows what they're good at and sees this opportunity in all of these things to be
better faster greater than everyone else what is it that you've seen with the
with those you work with or those that you observe that unlocks that creativity
and that potential to say hey this is actually a good thing for me I think I can use it to be better or greater or
faster smarter well if I if I could answer by telling you a little anecdote
so my my first day walking into a law firm and working into a law firm which kind of happened out of happen St me
deciding to leave the academy but I started work there and one of the best Partners I worked with he sat me down in
his office and he said so Dr Kane let's have a little chat here I want you to
understand we're all here and attorneys because we're not entrepreneurs we don't think about this
like a business that's the unique part I would say about the legal space it's different when you're going into a place
that says yeah we want to be part of the Innovation economy we want to change the world with what we're producing we're
doing legal isn't saying that legal is saying we want to offer better and better services for clients and so what
I would say about that giving point or that pressure a lot of that's coming from the client side so clients have
much higher expectations and demands of their attorneys and what they expect for service uh I think you know Robert you
you you mentioned faxes my wife her favorite joke is to walk by and me talking about digital faxing during one
of my conversations with a client and said what the I thought you said you were at a tech company and you're talking about faxing right but it's true
I mean faxing is a big part of our industry still but the point is clients want to be met where they are yeah the
attorney can't say back to the client well I need you to appear for this you know deposition I'm GNA fax it over to
you you have every right to say I can't receive your facts where would I get that text it to me and the attorney has
every right to come back to me and say Dr Kane how do we text from a system um with our clients that's secure and make
sure that works so I think it's client driven pressure so it's a bit different and it's not entrepreneurial driven of
how do we change and innovate our industry that's all internal motivation okay so when you talk about client
driven Innovation um I I feel this urge I feel compelled to respond to you there
so uh you know the the number one biggest concern from the client when it
comes to Legal Services with an outside Law Firm is the pricing the business model and let me offer my own two cents
because it's my show and I'm GNA do that so I'm gonna hold forth here the uh the business model is broken I mean the
business model of charging $ th000 an hour $500 an hour whatever it is they charge by the hour I mean here in
California they literally you know attorneys are going at $1,000 an hour which is astounding uh the only thing the client
cares about on those long calls where the you know has you on speaker phone and shouting into the phone at you uh
the only thing they care about they're looking at the watch they're looking at their clock and they're going oh my gosh another minute another minute 15 more
minutes oh my God how do we make the bleeding stop so there's pressure on the
legal profession to change the way it delivers services and the way it charges for them in other words that's like a business model change can you talk a
little bit about that yeah one of the most interesting things happening and we're we're here in Utah which is right
at the center of it um in California the bar association has blocked that kind of innovation that that we're seeing here
but in Arizona and Utah you'll see it with uh the legal sandbox we have that allows for alternative legal services or
um Legal Services being uh operated by organizations that aren't owned by attorneys you're seeing a lot more
experimentation again now I will say that this kind of thing um to your point Robert and this this may be important
for for you to know these are cyclical so this does happen every so often in law people talk about the billable hour
and how do we change that as a broken model um there firms that I know right now that are experimenting with
subscription models kind of have a you know lawyer on tap on a subscription model um there are other firms that work
on flat fee basis or percentage fees right um in contingency firms um but the
model in which uh law firms are not necessarily owned by lawyers or these
alternative legal service providers are working will shake some of that up um and will be very interesting but it's
going to depend on the regulatory environment that exists in different states um and whether that's going to be
allowed so like like I said here in Utah we have that Colorado that's opened up a bit with people being able to offer
Family Law Services I give a great example that I think is interesting um eBay you know had problems in California
before because people were using it to adjudicate no fault divorces why were they doing that because eBay has a great
algorithm that says okay one side puts in their assets the other side puts in theirs and you say make this a fair
tradeoff right eBay has a pretty good algorithm set up for how do you make a fair trade of two sets of resources um
and eBay got in trouble for the idea that they were practicing law without a license yeah were they know people were
being Innovative in the way you're describing Robert of wanting something different where they said we're not really fighting we just want to make
sure this is fair and we don't want to spend a thousand dollars an hour so I would say that people and consumers like
you're saying will drive that change and that's why I think even bar associations and states that are trying to block that
right now it won't succeed longterm because people want to see more experimentation with how those services
are provided and if they can be provided at better rates well you make a really
excellent point and by the way those are great stories I want to unpack that a little bit but you make a really excellent point about families right so
family law is one area of the law that is notoriously painful for people uh and
it's you know quite common that the people who are in that situation you know people who are going through a
divorce uh they often feel like the only winners in the matter are the attorneys the law firms uh you know you're kind of
at their Mercy in the sense that the first step that happens in a divorce is that you reveal your financial information to your attorney who then
confers with his or her counterpart on the other side and of course those two are going to encounter each other in
future situations uh they may be on the same side they may be against each other and they're never going to see you again if they do their job right uh so they
have very it seems as a consumer it seems like they have very little incentive to watch out for their customer I know I know the attorney's
all profess to be looking out for their clients so we'll let we'll live that one let them one slide by here but I think
the fact of the matter is a consumer feels like they're getting ripped off uh and the worst part is that you have to
reveal all your financial material to these attorneys up front in in a family law case um which means you're exposing
yourself uh really it seems like the attorneys can calculate how much can we bleed this B bleed this family dry
before we bring this matter to an end and they might be able to wrap it up much sooner but oh no the other party wants to file a motion we have to
respond it's going to take six weeks to get a hearing oh we have to go to case settlement conference that'll be another six months and the thing just drags on
and on and on and on endless amounts of fees uh both parties feel like they're grieved or they're spending down
whatever savings they might have as that process grinds slowly through the
justice system uh so you're saying that the uh that the bar associations can act in a cartel-like fashion to prevent
people from innovating from prevent customers from figuring out a way to actually settle these matters outside of
the courtroom or outside of the legal process uh I I did not use the word cartel uh you did that's true you didn't I did I
threw that in there you're right I'm just I'm just making sure we so we get the quotations right but no that's right
I mean they can have those kinds of protective mechanisms in place to say someone's practicing law without a license I I will tell you that what I
mostly see and where technology plays an important role in what's going on with the future of law is look the more
sophisticated we can get in terms of exactly what you're describing where we could take a set of those assets for
example in this case you're describing in family law and and find more creative ways to have dispute resolutions and
faster ways where technolog is aiding and assisting in that um that will lower the um zero Stakes or zero sum game kind
of scenarios that appear so often in law that I think will help people with a
dispute resolution that doesn't involve as much bleeding if you have a you know zero some game it makes sense to want to
play it in the clous of style of escalation to extremes right you go go as hard as you can to make sure you win
um if you're continually provided with more information which is part of what we're trying to do or the the work that
me and my team wake up every day to try to do more information that can provide resolutions that don't evolve that
escalation to extremes that's hopefully our goal that we can also help resolve disputes quicker faster and at lower
cost yeah sounds sounds great Brian what's your what's your take yeah I was just thinking about um all of this you
know business model Innovation consumer client driven Innovation uh and cartel like uh protectionism I just checked
Wikipedia cartel isn't there yet but I just contacted an a Wikipedia editor see what they could do about that uh in the
meantime uh you know something that I I've done in every regulated industry is
being part of innovation is work with regulators and I've I've uncovered in all of that work Chang is possible but
also there are a lot of lobbyists who like to work against you and it is a
very organized very well-funded machine but that doesn't mean that it's
in the best interests of humanity uh and I'd love to hear more about what is it
that that entrepreneurial lawyer or that attorney or anyone who's entrepreneurial at least
in spirit maybe not in practice how we can Empower them to think differently about improving their laws their
regulation and I'll give you one quick example and I know we're we're coming close to time on the first
segment I I I think about Automotive dealerships and I can I can think
historically uh and then also as an analyst I don't think I've ever read research that says
overwhelmingly consumers love walking into a dealership to either purchase a
car or have their car serviced yet the dealership industry is one of the
strongest lobbyist groups to protect the franchise law and so when Tesla for
example starts to say I understand that we can create a new model where
consumers can buy a car directly from us and service it directly from us consumers say that sounds great it's
like going to the Apple Store but instead they were met with lawsuits and
prevented in many States from actually opening direct to Consumer models uh and
so I think about how each state is different and how consumers can't necessarily fight against that system so
the system itself has to be challenged by some or some other organized cartel
that is looking out for the best interest of consumers and then that's when we start to see the model change so so Dr Elliot I'd like to hear from you
how do we inspire people to believe that they can be part of the change in an industry that says that we're here to be
lawyers not entrepreneurs okay I hope if if you don't mind but Robert already invited
this if I can say something kind of controversial here um the first thing the first thing I would do is I want to
give you guys a concrete example that's about the santes and Florida and tort reform down there and the first and the
thing I want to say is I want I want everybody to know do not talk to your politicians doesn't matter they have no
idea look at what's going on in Florida here's what you'll see you'll see this massive push from for tort reform why is
the push happening because the insurance industry is very interested in backing to santz who's against it uh personal
injury attorneys on the other side who think it will damage their income and their take the politicians on either
side of that debate what do they know about tort and tort reform nothing I promise you no one has the faintest clue
about what tort and Tor reform is or what these disclosures mean or what the ramification are what does matter is
talking to the legal professionals that you actually work with and so as an example I would say that you know these
alternative legal service providers that we named the primary um utilizers of those companies are actually law firms
who have clients who come back to them and say I just will not pay that I expect this at a cheaper rate they go
out and Outsource it uh to an alsp so I think working directly with uh attorneys
and in the communities that people are in and that they end up interacting with um despite of what you've said Robert I
think the attorneys at least that I know and I know thousands of them around the country and have sat on hundreds of
hours with them they listen very closely to what clients Say and What clients think um what I can tell you is that uh
regulatory reform that can be Innovative that you can push within the state for opening up these kinds of sandboxes can
be helpful but it's usually the Judiciary that's driving that as better having better options for um actual
members of the public getting access to Justice and access to Justice work um is
very good at this work but actually working for um a particular political side doesn't work because neither side
really understands what they're arguing about if if one side got a different donor they change sides on it the next
day so okay so what I'm hearing you say and I think it's a very good point I'm glad you bring it up is uh attorneys by
and large are professional they take their oath seriously they are there to represent their clients's interest and
uh and so I apologize to all the attorneys that I offended with my previously inflammatory comments I'm backing off of that now no they're too
tough to be offended you're good you're good that's okay because where I'm going next is g to get a little bit more interesting here so what you just
described to me as a system where we've got um law firms on both sides of the case clients who are basically
disempowered to make change they have no leverage to force a change through except to complain about their bill which we could assume a lot of them do
so they get that pressure um but the the the attorneys themselves have to comply with a legal process and that legal
process is driven by the Judiciary and of course the laws that govern all of this are set by other attorneys who
happen to be elected to office uh by and large most of our elected officials in the US are happen to be attorneys uh so
we have attorneys piled on top of of we have attorneys piled on top of attorneys on top of attorneys on top of attorneys
you got judges in the Judiciary you've got judge you've got lawyers inside of the legislature uh you probably got
attorneys who are lobbyists as well who are drafting legislation and sticking it under the noses of those legislators um
so you have lawyers on top of lawyers and many of them a large percentage of them are just not interested in making
change that is going to uh streamline the process reduce the cost get make it easier and faster for people to get
Justice uh and the reason I'm bringing this up is that you know in California where I live uh right now in Southern
California if you were in a legal matter and I sure hope you aren't you would find that it's going to be three years until you get a trial date and that
means three years of paying bills uh paying retainers uh paying for motions and other kinds of service stuff that
doesn't really get you any result as a consumer you're spending the kind of money that you'd spend to buy a car um
on a pretty nebulous result and it can grind down forever and anyone can bring a lawsuit for any matter so of course
you can be sued by anybody at any given time for matter doesn't even you know doesn't really make any economic sense
or any kind of realistic sense uh so do you see any any way that this Log Jam of
lawyers making rules for other lawyers um do you see any way that that's ever going to get resolved or are we just
going to be stuck with this forever no I think I think that's moving
already I mean these alternative legal service providers that we talked about right now that's a very small segment of
the market it's maybe 0.8% or something but you mentioned California you could go to a site that not our company but
one that's providing those kind of services like Bliss divorce say for example right and try to take your no
fault divorce through a process with them so as these different uh Alternatives open up for consumers and
consumers move the way that they move based on their pocketbooks or whatever they feel is in their rational interest
to do um the legal profession will respond um it it it does and it will
have to this is something I talk about constantly with the attorneys I work with um the move toward efficiency in
terms of reducing the number of billable hours is a constant pressure that's on but as there are other avenues that open
up um that will continue to happen but I think I think people will march to Alternatives as they open up um and
choose those services and legal will choose to respond or not I I happen to think it will um in ways to establish
more efficiency but still give the level of profi uh you know Precision but with
the kind of velocity that consumers expect um and and that's going to be the space where technology assisted
lawyering is going to be most efficient for consumers to get more out of it but still get the the high level of
expectation that they place on the delivery of their attorneys and to want that touch I want to hear more about
that in the second half but before we jump into the second half uh go to our break I want to ask you a few questions
so what we typically do on the show when Brett is the co-host is we ask a few rapid fire questions right before the break so Kane Elliot it's time for the
rapid fire questions here we go you're in the hot seat first question is uh tell me uh
since you're a futurist you're a legal futurist tell me what was your first encounter with thinking about the future
a science fiction story maybe a movie when you were a kid um what was it that Lit your imagination about the
future uh for me it happened to be uh my mother actually setting me loose in a
Barnes & Noble and I found this volume of friedi nche this is really you can tell I'm a nerd uh but quite quite young
as like a pre-teen and uh me saying I'd like to buy this and it was about um philosophers of the future a little
segment uh that I read and uh this kind of inspired the rest of the life trajectory from 13 onward which book did
you get the will to power or or the gay science or which which the gay the gay science the joyful science it was pass
there well okay great so from one n student to another uh next question is
tell me about a forecast or a prediction that you heard of that influenced you in your own
career I think that I was most influenced by um the idea that the legal
industry could never move away from Microsoft Word I I I was I find this I found this completely obsessive and and
a motivating idea I I don't ever believe that someone says they have a lock on the future of much of anything
especially something like a word processor um and that prediction that legal would be driven through Microsoft
for the rest of human history seemed to me so infuriating that it's also driven a lot of my actions in my own job right
now cool um okay we're gonna take a break and we are listening to Kane
Elliot this is the futurist we'll be back in just a minute provoked media is proud to
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show and we're back on the futurists I'm Rob Turk your host and in the co-host
chair this week Brian siss this week we're getting to know
Kane Elliot Kane is a is the head legal futurists uh for a company called fevine
that is seeking to bring Innovation to the hidebound profession of law so so
far we've been talking about um how frustrating it is and I've been having a great time ventilating about my own
personal frustration with the legal profession um and I have to say it is astounding when you go to the courtroom
how much paper there is every courtroom I've ever been in whether I've been a jury or going to get called for jury
duty or a witness or even a party to an action I couldn't help notice that the
all the walls every inch of the courthouse is covered in paper they're filing cabinets everywhere and there's
even stacks of paper out in the hallway and so forth uh so here is an industry that seems to run on paper you'd think
their biggest supporters would be the paper mills how long is that going to be the case and at what point are we going
to haul this this 19th century business practice into the 21st century Kane yeah
I think the the paper piece of the law is uh something that's generational and
it's right now dying off very rapidly and and you'll see it very quickly in the next few years the answer on the
paper question I try to go a little bit longer trajectory when I think about that so I have I've given a presentation
here and you can imagine um being out in the world of tech that when I open a presentation and it has a clay pot from
uru um and Mesopotamia that people aren't immediately going yay this is exciting a kind of thing we're doing a
history lesson but for me this how I think about this stuff and you know that's a clay tablet one of the earliest pieces of writing we have in the west
and it's laws that are written down and I think about the clay tablet and I look at that and I say you know the clay
tablet in some ways more efficient than what we've done subsequently with what we had in paper on the clay tab at least
you could scratch through it write something else on it honestly it's harder to do that in a PDF today uh than
it would be to on a clay tablet so uh I think what the main answer would be is
the rest of us doing the technology we haven't done a good enough job of giving people the kinds of technological
affordances and abilities to work with digitized paper that people really want
um look the experience of memory still stronger when you're reading paper and text attorneys spend a lot of time
highlighting reading through text and one of the reasons paper is more populars sticks in memory better so my
answer there would be the technologists and the futurists and this we haven't done a good enough job bringing that experience um if we make that experience
more tactile more experiential ways it sticks more in memory ways it makes it easier to work with uh we would win over
paper but the idea of just taking uh a physical file and a piece of paper and
putting a replica of that on a machine is not as good and that's why we're not winning that battle So my answer is
that's not the law that's us on the technology side failing to have the right answer so far for that so you know
there's a parallel here which is uh books right so books have been around printed books or mass-produced books
been around for 500 years and don't seem like they're going any place anytime soon and that's because as some people
have observe it's an optimized technology you know the book is a compact form factor it doesn't change it
doesn't require a battery you don't have to plug it in and so forth uh so it always works and and for an attorney
who's going to a courthouse the last thing they want is to have files on some sort of digital Gizmo and then discover
that the battery ran down or they need to plug it in they can't find a cord or something to do that something like that so I can sort of understand that why
there'd be some aversion to that but I think at the same time just continuing with the book example one thing that has
happened in the last 10 years is an absolute explosion of Digital Data and
so like the number of books that are published has been increasing you know the number of physical hardbound books that have been published that goes up
each year of course but that goes up in kind of a linear fashion where there's been an exponential growth in the number
of digital documents now how that affects attorneys is uh in Discovery so
in the old days uh you know if there's a legal matter going on is a dispute you're getting ready for a trial uh you
know attorneys have the right to demand that to see certain documents uh that the other party may or may not have and they have to produce those documents by
law some people don't play fair they don't always produce the stuff they demand to produce but a a tactic that
started to emerge about 10 years ago maybe a little bit longer uh was uh in a big corporate dispute for instance uh
that the the party that was asked to asked to show documents would produce everything and you would end up getting
truckloads of documents literally you know like truckloads of documents because they would produce everything first it was done in um on paper so here
comes millions and millions of cases of paper I'm exaggerating um but literally you know thousand thousand tens of
thousands of documents and then uh and then of course it switched to digital delivery so now you get digital documents by the gigabyte and for uh
first year graduates who are coming out of law school this was a pretty dismal Prospect because it meant that they spent years in in college and then in in
law school preparing for a profession when in fact what they were actually doing on the job was reading through old
emails from some Corporation in some matter and most of it 99.9% of it had
nothing to do with anything it was like uh you know in the needle inside of this Hy stack of digital documents has that
changed at all in the last 10 years or is that still the process no that's changing I think the most famous uh
scene of that we have visually is I think it I think it's the movie Blackwater uh that's about Teflon um and
the famous scene of of uh the truckloads of documents appearing in the attorney's office and he's down in the basement
with stacks of all these papers and most of them have nothing to do with anything um it's changing it's not uh it's not
totally gone away because as you rightly noted when we have a society that has so much documented because of how we work
digitally then you do have a lot more documentation available but most courts and most regions are mandating some kind
of uh conference in advance where people uh provide some kind of limitations on what is produced in Discovery so that's
happening but that's also part of what's driving the usage of digital technology because courts like the state of New
York are very close to mandating um some kind of Technology assisted Discovery
process because there's no way really you could come back as a human being and say Yeah in fact I read through the
15,000 emails that were produced in the average employment uh dispute that arises uh like let's let's all be honest
with each other about the reality of what's going on we're inundated with information as you noted in our in our
society so we better have better ways to triage through those so um that's most
courts yeah we'll we now want to mandate some kind of limitation on Discovery and that as a tactic in it of itself um is
becoming less popular because of uh massive advantages that we have now on
the tech side to triage through those much faster so that that lowers the Strategic value of that kind of dump
yeah you know it seems to me that that's a that's an opportunity for artificial intelligence uh you know I'm I'm
hesitant to jump into the AI discussion because I to start the before you do I I
I I want to make a quick observation because I'd like u k I'd love to hear your thoughts on this coming back to
your last Point Robert about books you know I have a few well now several years of research and studying
how younger Millennial and certainly sentennial brains are wired differently
and when I think about the future of everything whether it's legal or just work the uh the ability for that brain
to think differently vers versus say how we might write things down uh as a form
of you memory uh that their brain doesn't work the
same way and so at some point as a technologist as you think about uiux we think about things like apple augmented
reality down the line as we think about technology as it starts to evolve I'd be curious to hear your point of view
around how technologist could start thinking differently for the next generation of brain that's coming up
versus trying to adapt technology to our brains for example and so the reason why
the book triggered it is because I did an experiment with two two of my books where I broke the linear process of
chapter oriented book reading down into essentially the the table of contents is
gone it's now sort of like your home screen on an app everything's colorcoded you don't have to read left or right you
could actually read and everything comes together by categories uh and so it was
written for that brain I had to read relearn how to write for that brain so curious then you know as technologists
think about the future design at what point do we just sort of Break Free and design for that next
Generation can I tell you about the craziest idea I've had which by the way no one's no one's taken me up on yet uh
for building out but uh thankfully I work at an organization that uh lets me work on these kinds of uh uh absolutely
insane ideas but I have thought about um the idea of when you talk about a matter
in litigation for example um so let's say you know this Dupont case we that I just mentioned with the
Teflon um thinking about a design model in which you actually structure the documentation and the movement of events
more like the sequence of a game sequence where you're entering a start screen right and you're kind of questing
through and moving through um as as as part of this discovery process um
because also this relates to really old ideas about I mean everybody's read at some point about memory palaces and the
idea of putting things in physical places um and making that kind of transition digitally so for me um one of
the strangest I think for others in the industry IA I've had though is like the idea of what if we put that in an
experiential place that's more like a gaming place um where you know you're the attorney moving through those
documents but almost spatially um in a place that's been rendered so that it helps you keep track of the things
you're looking for identify the things that matter put them as stop points or checkpoints back like you're going in a
game um I think that people I I think Brian it's really great question because
I think all the time about um how everything uh will move that direction
and and in fact we have two of our main designers who who work on our contract
side their their background is in video game design and they make great contract designers um so I I take that very
seriously that that experience will change and that we have to get really creative uh so that we meet users where
they are and the professionals where they are and then the consumers of the law where they are that's a really good
perspective and uh and Brian I see you've written about you've written about this topic already that's quite interesting so yeah the idea there is uh
games do involve objectives and they involve surmounting hurdles both big and
and small uh and so you know there's a kind of like habit that we have and now three billion people on the planet are
playing video games so this is not like some Niche activity Pursuit that you know some teenage kid
in his mom's basement is playing or something three generations of of people are now playing video games and uh and
they're quite conditioned to it so uh that that way of navigating yourself through uh a a dense information
environment uh and overcoming obstacles in some respects it is a little bit like
uh like like like law I mean in a way maybe we're idealizing it or fantasizing it a little bit but that kind of
creative thinking is where new ideas come from so are you making any progress on that is that something that you think
the most interesting thing I had happened actually on on that front was I went down and judged a kind of so I went
down to BYU law and they had a kind of shark tank for the law school where the students in the law school who are very
entrepreneurial were pitching to myself and some other Professionals in the in the industry of their ideas of a startup
for the law and one of the best ones I saw actually was a consumer facing app that they had built that was like a
gaming environment but for uh renters to work with their landlords um because in
fact that can be a very confusing process to your point um and what we talked about earlier it could be one
where someone doesn't have the resource necessarily to pay for an attorney right or they may think it's not worth it even
taking this up if I have to pay for an attorney because it's more than it's worth to get this thing fixed to my building um so I think that uh companies
like ours and and and especially younger entrepreneurs who are coming into our industry are going to be pursuing ideas
like that um in in the near term to speak to the both the consumers and the
professionals we work with yeah and just so I understand now the decision to uh use an alternative means of settling a
dispute um you might have both parties open to that idea but depending on the jurisdiction that they're in that might
not be available to them in other words it might not be permitted in that in a jurisdiction or or did I get that wrong
is it is it possible in every jurisdiction for people to choose alternative dispute resolution people
can choose alternative dispute resolution the difference that I'm talking about that's available in every
jurisdiction is um organizations being allowed to provide let's say legal or
quasi legal services without being run by attorneys or themselves being attorneys and uh okay so this is the
thing this is the challenge that we're running into now with let's say like AI assisted um uh legal representation so
for instance I know that there's a company that's trying to find a way to automate um uh the legal process in in
this way where where um if you're in court on a small matter uh you can
actually use this app you have to wear an earpiece and it can hear so it's doing speech to text uh it can hear and
then understand what's being discussed what the judge is saying what the other part is saying and then it will generate
text for you as the as the client uh that you can read and you could thereby represent yourself and as it turns out
there's two challenges here there's two issues that they had to smell the first one is that that's not permitted in a
lot of Courts yeah and some courts you're not allowed to wear an electronic earpiece uh that's connected to the internet as well so they found there
were only two jurisdictions where this was possible but they are experimenting with that so people could represent themselves and have kind of like a robo
attorney in their ear uh in a Bluetooth piece headpiece uh kind of whispering instructions to them um now I I can
imagine that would be pretty confusing candidly to try like hear what robot is saying to you while you're in a
courtroom where it's a little stressful for most people um but that that kind of process uh
is technically feasible but it not might not be legally permissible is that is that a correct
observation about this whole profession right now are there are there a lot of solutions that are technically feasible
but they're not yet permissible no I mean in that case uh that would that was not permissible in the case that was
made and that was used mostly as a marketing employ but I I don't think it would be technically feasible I mean my team we work very deep in AI every day
we're not down the rabbit hole on that in the sense that um look there's some things that AI is very good for right
now and other things that it's absolute crap at um I wouldn't want it in my ear representing me in court um I'd say what
if it's wrong yeah or what if you misunderstand it or or is the case right now as everybody knows a lot of these
large language models that you know we work with and I work with on my team they hallucinate things all the time so the best example I can give is with the
tort reform in Florida I was having a dialogue with an AI about that and it was telling me well this was upheld by
the Florida Supreme Court in 2024 and I had to remind it 2024 had not yet
happened and it said oh thank you for the refresher uh I'll be more careful with my timelines I don't want that in
my ear when I'm in court right now so I I'm not look AI will be ubiquitous and
everywhere in the law but it's not taking over every part of the legal profession or replacing lawyering
anytime soon it's augmenting and making it hopefully streamlined in a better process for the attorneys and for their
clients but but it ain't that like that's that's I hear you man it's true
like you know everywhere I look there is panic people are in a white Panic right now about the notion of an AI coming in
taking their job and largely it's driven by fear of chat GPT and the new model G GPT 4 um the reality is that these
systems are unreliable they're largely reliable they're mostly reliable depending on the on the particular
discipline we're talking about they may be 85% reliable but who wants their legal outcome to depend
on something that's only 85% reliable you just can't trust them no I mean Robert who would want to be on trial for
their lives and say Well it may have hallucinated the facts of the case but let's go for it like no I don't think so
and these and these systems are very compelling artists in the sense that they present the stuff in a very confident way uh someone said to me that
that that chat GPT is like a teenager it thinks it knows everything and it says it with great confidence when in fact it
doesn't always know what it's talking about and that's a good way to think about these systems today so they can be helpful they can streamline things uh
you can certainly ask it questions ask it to edit something or summarize something and generally that's going to
be okay uh but when it comes to facts or even math uh they're not entirely
reliable and it is true they make up cases they'll make up preceden uh and quote them and cite them as if it's real
but you have to double check so what good is that that's not an assistant that's creating more work do you think then that there will be automated
Justice is that even a possibility like Robo judge you know where you go to a vending machine and you have a dispute
and you you punch you you sort of you know submit your digital documentation and Justice is dispensed I think you
will have that with a lot of lowlevel low stakes matters that are right now just kind of uh pulling or cranking the
chain on something um where let's say a lot of MVA disputes where someone hits
someone else and it's low stakes um or as we talked about no fault matters I think there's there's a place for that
in certain areas I don't think the dispensation of Justice at levels where
there's high impact and high causes is something we're going to see for a long time and I I think the reason that you
won't see it for a long time is most of what happens in laws based on relationships of trust that people have
um and those are already really frail between humans and systems and
introducing additional models that may not be considered trustworthy means it's
not something that people are going to move toward uh in the very near future um and so I think uh until you have
something where you had more transparency is where an AI or or a machine or system is getting the result
they're getting people won't want that as part of their notion of Justice you can't have a black box of justice that
that's that's really against the notion of what any of us wants in terms of how our courts operate right right that's
true it's one of the main principles of our legal system is that the justices set forth their logic and it has to be
something that's clear and and that everyone can see and understand the reasoning of and if they don't it's going to get appealed and that's not
great for that judge to get that matter appealed okay but that brings me to a related topic uh one that's less trendy
these days but was really hot the last few years which is uh blockchain and the notion of smart contracts right so here
the idea is uh kind of a Libertarian fantasy that we can just live in a world where we pre pre- reses all possible
disputes and we both agree to a Smart contract a binding smart contract that
will automate uh the decision-making process and in practice um smart
contracts aren't contracts they're not legally binding um they're not that smart either they're kind of binary they're they're about as smart as a
vending machine uh so tell me a little bit about where things stand right now
in terms of blockchain and the automatic dispensing of uh of
adjudication yeah I think I think that one reason that that that has failed to take off it and or or realize some of
the Ambitions that people had for that is a lot of the programming Community or the technical community that was behind
that when I would talk to them um we're very distanced from the actual practice of what happens in the making of the
meat with the law and disputes um and coming at it more from the idea of the technology should solve in advance for a
dispute um and most of the time when disputes get really tenuous there are arguments over nuances of language that
you can't code for in advance um human emotions and feelings about things change all the time one of the reasons
that the law is a really rich area to work in is because it's so damn messy like people um people change their mind
all the time they change what they think they meant at the time that they signed the contract uh what their actual intent
was and so I think that the idea that you kind of resolve human Affairs in
advance is a Libertarian techn fantasy kind of thing that um to me at least
doesn't seem very liberatory at all um it's I actually find it quite terrifying
um I I really like the idea that we're we're open to the gray side of life and the messy side of disputing things um
that technology can't solve the problem of Being Human yet uh thankfully for all of us true I mean writing a writing a
smart contract is a very very difficult thing to do now I should point out there is you know a large and growing number
of attorneys who are specializing in that because they see that as a potential growth area and I think it's
also one of the things that's surprising uh about web 3 communities is how many kinds of contracts we actually commit to
in any given daily exchange with our co-workers they're not legal contracts
but as human beings we depend on each other we depend on commitments that we make to each other we represent that
we're going to do stuff that we're gonna you know we're going to be reliable in some fashion and so those in a way are all transactions that occur inside of a
workplace so in a decentralized company or decentralized organization I should say um what governs all that what
governs those relationships is a smart contract uh so there's a growing area a growing need I guess in a growing area
and as a result no surprise a growing law practice but this hasn't yet broken out into the mainstream uh though do do
you think it might in the future at some point or do you think that this is uh this is always going to remain a fantasy
no the main place I see that happening though is if you want to talk about the contracts that we're all entering into
all the time that no one reads through no no one knows what's in there or signs off on every day look there are the
things called contracts of adhesion that everyone signs off on right when you agree to terms with apple and Facebook
and all the rest of them um there's places potentially in there but there's also a lot of work to be done on
automating this work with ndas people sign ndas Left Right Center every direction uh for all kinds of
interactions now and I think there's certainly a place for that the place that would be most interesting is there's an organization um that we're
we're friends with um not part of ours but called Bond terms that's working very hard on the idea of a kind of you
know essentially Community Driven with thousands of lawyers involved in organizations agreed to that this is
what should be in an NDA let's all agree that this is what an NDA is about let's all use this NDA and go on with our
lives that would be great a oneclick thing that you can just you can append to an email and click go and you don't
have to read it even because it's the same standard as would nice yeah yeah so I think I think if technologists
work together with groups like that that are buying in with the human trust that's where you get real breakthroughs
but it's got to be the combination of the two yeah that makes sense to me I mean it is true certainly that technologists often approach uh a field
particularly a long established field with a lot of history tradition and practice and precedent like law uh they
approach it from an entirely theoretical perspective and they say gee this whole thing seems cumbersome and it seems inefficient kind of like where I was
coming from in the beginning of the show uh so the technologist perspective is blow it up and let's start over from
scratch and we'll have a new process sounds good in theory uh but like many things in theory it falls apart in
practice uh it turns out to be more difficult than we actually expected and certainly that has been the experience
with blockchain anything you know whether it's blockchain for supply chain or blockchain for transactions and so
forth lots of unexpected outcomes uh lots of unexpected hurdles uh and
friction in that process and then as it turns out the art of writing a smart contract well it's not that much easier
than the art of writing just a good old traditional paper contract between two parties there's a lot of nuance there's
a lot of skill a lot of craft involved in that those are skills that are honed over decades not something that you even
learn in law school necessarily uh it's a it's a craft uh it's hard to see how that might get automated what do you see
as the future then so where do you see this heading in the future because it sounds to me like based on what you said
the um number of legal matters is going up uh law seems to be pervading Society
all the more uh people themselves as we adopt new things and move into new kinds of arrangements like decentralized
organizations and online communities and so on we're having more encounters with more people and that means more friction
and that means more potential conflict so it sounds to me like the universe of legal matters is growing um I don't know
if it's growing exponentially but certainly increasing and people are hyperconnected so it's probably going to
speed that up and grow it it's like going to increase over time time what's the future of law in that
situation like how do you see this playing out in the next 10 years so the
stuff that I'm most excited about or get up every day working on and thinking about um that really excites me is is
what we can do in terms of better capture of action and a theory of action and legal action the reason I say that
is exactly what you pointed to Robert you kind of teed me up by accident there um when you talked about the Decades of
apprenticeship and work I think what's going to happen is the most useful bits of this technology in legal Tech the
World building that are going to take off the things that are going to be transformative are the things that lower
that uh that time needed for apprenticeship and becoming more skillful in the practice um those will
be the things that will matter because those will allow different legal actors and younger legal actors to become
better practitioners quicker and I think that the way that's going to happen is because all of our lives are so
ingrained with so much technology there clicks everywhere that the best thing we can do with the technology we have at
our disposal is not just more access to information that's why I get I I love Ai
and I hype about it all the time but I'm not hyped about it in the sense of I always tell users listen an extra Deluge
of information in front of you doesn't mean it's more useful information um so digital information as opposed to paper
has been really exceptional for the law in one sense that you've got it all at your fingertips it's been ter ifying in
the other sense that you've got it all at your fingertips right it's can be very confusing but what we do have
access to that we're not doing enough yet is process mining for people and really figuring out where are the
actions that you took on behalf of clients at certain times and certain points for certain reasons that had the
best effect and the best action for them and I think in the next 10 years what you're going to see is that the tech
that's really informative for the industry and transformative for what people are doing are not just going to
be vast piles of data we threw against the wall to make it easier to triage through that'll be important but it
won't change the practice what'll change the practice is process mining that allows people to understand what are
those points of making certain decisions that are making my lawyering so good those things that you know when
everybody looks at their actions they've got explicit things that they do all the time um those are things that they can
describe to others teach to others everything else but the law is full of so many implicit actions that attorneys
take the more we can help raise those to a surface level where they can see what that implicit reasoning was behind why
they took a certain action at a certain time that's the stuff we're going to put at people's fingertips that's going to
CH transform the practice and I think make augmented lawyering something that's real as opposed to uh robot
lawyering that sounds like a fanciful idea but augmented lawyering where you have a better idea of why you clicked
when you did okay that's good because uh that fits with a trend we're starting to see it's not about technology replacing
people it's about technology making those people giving them superpowers as you say augmenting them uh you know so
for instance uh you know everyone wants to know about robot doctors right to go back to the doctor the the the medical
uh example um as it turns out one of the uses of uh AI in the medical profession
is that doctors uh you know when they visit you when you go for a checkup or any kind of procedure anything they make notes right and usually typically you'll
see them use a little um a little dictation machine where they can talk themselves digital notes sometimes those
machines can turn those notes into into text for them automatically they use speech that tax to do that um now what
doctors are doing is they're making notes with chat GPT or something similar a chat bot and it actually completes the
form it actually inputs the information into the into the patient file you can Envision something similar uh I would
imagine for the legal profession and this is going to matter for law partners ship over time there's a set of
expertise built up inside of a law partnership that is deep and Incredibly
valuable but it exists only in the heads of the attorneys of the partners and one by one those partners are going to
retire they're going to go away wouldn't it be interesting for the law firm over time to have its own learning model you
know it might not be a large learning model might be a very precise model but one where they can uh they can start to
capture the best insights from those partners and as they capture that that becomes an ass ET uh that would then be
kind of like a virtual Mentor or you know a reference that you could you could query inside of the law firm and
actually I can Envision that being a very powerful thing over time uh what's your take on that do you think that that's a possibility this is exactly
what we're building right now we have part of this in our tooling because what we've we've seen all the time is as I
said I have a slide in one one of my Decks that shows a reference to uh a a federal decision from chat gbt and it's
the equivalent of a Wikipedia citation and then I have a reference from our system that is from the particular Legal
Professional in their Law Firm from their riff or greatest hit on this citation and that is exactly right
that's what people want people want their greatest hits the way I'd compare it is like this um you think about the
explosion of digital music uh once everybody had the ability to download
everything and and could go on and we all had you know lime and all the rest of the million things that infected all
of our computers and the early you know '90s and 2000s um having a particular
track didn't matter as much what do you care about now when you go on Spotify you care about the curated playlist so
what we want to do with the technology is curate the playlist press play unlegal I want the greatest hits that's
that IP of my Law Firm put to use as opposed to the generic tracks of
everything in the world so yes a th% and and this is precisely what we're trying
to do very cool well Kane Elliot thank you very kindly for being on the futurist this week it's been a great
pleasure getting acquainted tell me uh for the folks who are listening who want to learn more where can they find you on the web uh check us out at fine.com you
can see everything that we do there uh you can occasionally check me out at uh
Kan Elliot on Twitter or uh some other platform that's listed somewhere um but
uh thank you very much for having me on the show really appreciate it I love the work you guys do and as a futurist
appreciate that there are people who want to keep people thinking it was great fun to have you on the show and that is the idea here we're trying to
get people to uh think more athletically about the future and perspectives like yours help so thanks for that I want to
give a big shout out to the folks who make the show possible at provoked media and that includes our producer Elizabeth
Severance who's been incredibly helpful for us in wrangling talent and making sure the show runs on time and of course
our engineer um our engineer Kevin uh who has been steadfast in cleaning up
all the audio errors and making sure things sound good and are audible to people and the whole crew of provoke but
mostly I want to thank the people who listen to the show we have a large growing and very loyal group who have
been incredibly forthcoming with suggestions for speakers questions and topics that's been really useful if
you've listen to the show and you enjoy it please do give us a festar rating take a second to do that on um wherever
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about the futurists and so thank you all very much for listening to the show thanks for your suggestions Kane thanks
for being on the show today it was great fun to meet you Brian ciss uh for joining us and for asking questions and
folks we will see you next week with another futurist I will see you in the
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