When it comes to dockets, the holy grail for most of us has always been state trial court dockets. Nicole Clark, CEO and co-founder of Trellis also felt that way when she was practicing, and decided that she would find a way to access and obtain that treasure trove of data that was always just out of reach. Nicole sits down with us this week to tell us the story behind her mission to seek out local court information, clean up the data, and create a method of analyzing that data. As anyone who has ever worked with trial court dockets, you understand how difficult a task this really is.
Nicole says that Trellis is on a mission to add a county court a day and to find additional ways that the information can be sliced, diced, and analyzed with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) processes like natural language processing (NLP) and through upcoming API access. She also walks us through some of the unique ways her customers use the data, and that the value of trial court data isn’t just limited to the legal field. The once elusive state court data is now becoming more and more available through platforms like Trellis, so the opportunities for legal researchers to take advantage of this wealth of information is expanding, literally by the day.
In a first, Nicole and Trellis is offering a free trial for TGIR listeners:
Listener Perk: Trellis is providing Geek In Review podcast listeners with complimentary 14-day access to its state trial court research & analytics platform! Gain insights and intelligence on judges, verdicts, opposing counsel, motions, rulings, dockets and other legal issues. Click here to try Trellis for free today.
LegalWeek Crystal Ball Question
This week we ask Casetext’s Robert Armbruster to look into his crystal ball and tell us what he sees in the next few years when it comes to our expectations on how search tools like Casetext will evolve.
Marlene Gebauer 0:24
Welcome to The Geek in Review, the podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal industry. I’m Marlene Gebauer.
Greg Lambert 0:31
And I’m Greg Lambert. Marlene I, as we were getting on, you had not actually heard that Elon Musk had bought Twitter apparently got all the financing lined up and the Twitter board said yes. So a guess I guess he’s got free speech now.
Marlene Gebauer 0:47
Yeah, well, it’s sort of like I like free speech so much, I decided to buy it.
Greg Lambert 0:52
Yes. Well, it’s amazing what you can get for $44 billion. So well, you know, see how it goes. Hopefully doesn’t screw it up. Doesn’t Yahoo it.
Marlene Gebauer 0:59
Let’s see if he it fulfills its societal imperative as a platform for free speech?
Greg Lambert 1:06
Yes, I’ve got a lot of friends that are that are really nervous about that. So
Marlene Gebauer 1:10
You can’t see us, folks. But we got our very skeptical faces on
Greg Lambert 1:14
We do. Well, Marlene, this week, we cover a couple of topics that are near and dear to my heart. And that is advancements in searching and accessing state court trial dockets. So that’s like two big things for me.
Marlene Gebauer 1:30
Yes. Our guest this week is Nicole Clark, CEO and co founder of Trellis. We’ve always said that being able to get into state court dockets. And the underlying content is kind of the holy grail of legal research. We had a great talk with Nicole about the struggles and the rewards that she dealt with and gathering information across multiple states. And getting all that information cleaned up and structured enough to create analytics, no easy task.
Greg Lambert 1:56
Now, having some experience with that that’s no easy task at all. So But first up, we have another installment of our legal week crystal ball question. This time from Casetext Rob Armbruster, who appears into his own crystal ball and talks about the advancements in search technology that he sees over the next five years. So let’s just jump right in with Rob’s predictions.
Robert Armbruster 2:24
Yeah, great to be here. So. So my name is Rob Armbruster. I’m an enterprise account executive with Casetext, which you guys I know, both each of you are very familiar with. I joined Casetext about three and a half months ago, four months ago before that I was with Kira System for about five years. And before that Practical Law, slash Thomson Reuters. So been in this space for a while and definitely seen a lot of things change over that time. And he’s really excited about where we’re going. Yeah, I mean, I think that, I mean, probably what everyone’s telling you is that technology is going to continue to change the way lawyers work the way law firms work. And really every industry, where they’re working in what we’re doing the Casetext has really tried to revolutionize the search function, and really trying to, you know, make an impact and make searching more effective for attorneys, you guys are familiar with some of our stuff. Obviously, parallel search has kind of three main components of what we’re doing and where we’re looking to take it over the next two to five years. And where it already is now, parallel search is certainly ready to go. Obviously, using the most advanced neural net technology for searching allows you to search in full sentences rather than keywords or Boolean. And that’s going to bring back sentences inside cases that are conceptually similar even if none of the words are present. So getting some really great initial feedback from the firm’s we have.
Marlene Gebauer 3:49
It’s huge, right?
Robert Armbruster 3:50
Yeah, it just a big time saver, you obviously, it’s a challenge putting together is better, yeah, I put in putting together these big all this time spent on constructing these searches, and then still not knowing if you’ve gotten where you needed to go. So we’re going to continue to improve that it’s really at a high level now. But that’s something we’re really going to keep developing. So really excited, we see a lot of growth ahead, particularly as we build out other parts of the platform as well. So we have the fancy search technology. Compose is our brief drafting automation tool that’s gaining a lot of traction, you know, we’re really starting to build some different areas and do rapid expanding there over the next two to five years. The areas that we do have, the motions and things like that for different states, we do go very deep. So we’ll look at just replicate that across more and more documents and more states.
Greg Lambert 4:41
So the changes in search that you see on the horizon? How is that going to change the daily work of an attorney or researcher? What’s the net effect? In the change that you see?
Robert Armbruster 5:01
Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, kind of traditional legal platforms, or legal research platforms rather that have been around really, are platforms that you have to write for to get results. In the way that attorneys doing research, research folks that firms are using Casetext that you just have to do your job, essentially right into sentence as you would in a brief or, as a partner might ask an associate to research, or how a judge might describe your case. That’s another thing. So using that full sentence is really kind of a game changer to a lot of folks. So it’s kind of changed the way obviously, that they’re doing the search and
Marlene Gebauer 5:39
and that they’re thinking about it.
Robert Armbruster 5:41
Yeah, yeah. And they may, you know, it gives us Casetext for the whole, the whole project, right, they start there, but sometimes they will use that and go to a different like a traditional platform to get once you’ve gotten those results from Casetext works, because it really kind of pinpoints conceptually what you need to be looking at. So we’ll see what happens there in terms of how we see that being used both ways, Casetexts on its own, and then in conjunction with somebody on the platforms. But off to a really, really good start. And, you know, I know, Marlene, we’ve talked about WeSearch a couple of times. And Greg, I know you’re familiar, we search as well, but we searched they, you know, obviously, the idea was that law firms are seeing the parallel search, and very happy with it. And then there was a little bit of a wait a minute, why can’t I apply this to other things in the firm? And that’s the whole goal research to be able to spin up your own neural net and your own database. That’s the next step.
Robert Armbruster 6:00
Yeah. And you talked about connections and things like that. And that’s of course, what we’re working on. You know, we kind of out of the box that comes you have to upload into research and obviously, there’s API’s in things like that, that we’re going to work on for different connections to make that process easier. But as Pablo [Arredondo] says, We want to make spinning up your own neural net to apply research a parallel search to Eddie corpus of documents. We want to make that as easy as pulling a yellow legal binder out of your out of your desk. That’s just a steal one of Pablo’s fantastic lines. But yeah.
Greg Lambert 7:10
Rob, thanks for stopping by and talking with us.
Marlene Gebauer 7:13
Robert Armbruster 7:14
Yeah, of course.
Greg Lambert 7:19
Thanks to Rob Armbruster, for taking the time to talk with us there in New York. I think we got a couple of these left in the hopper. So we’re coming to a close on that. Guess we’ll have to get back to our information inspiration sometime.
Marlene Gebauer 7:36
Greg Lambert 7:37
All right. Well, today’s guests had a mission of organizing state trial data in such a way that researchers would actually be able to run analytics on that information. With each court creating unique docket systems along with having their own culture and language around that data. It was a difficult mission, to say the least.
Marlene Gebauer 7:58
We’d like to welcome Nicole Clark, CEO of trellis. Nicole, welcome to The Geek in Review.
Nicole Clark 8:03
Thanks so much. Great to be here.
Marlene Gebauer 8:05
Nicole, before we dive too deep into the interesting technology and data analysis portion of the conversation, would you give us a bit of background on Trellis and what you set out to do when you co-founded the company four years ago?
Nicole Clark 8:17
Absolutely. So I was a litigator for a number of years, I worked a lot in state trial court doing class action wage and hour work. And I simply couldn’t believe how difficult it was to access State Trial Court information, fragmented across 1000s of individual county courts. And so really, what we try and do is bring in all of those 1000s of county courts and make them searchable through a single interface. So think almost the way that PACER lays on top of federal trial court data. That’s what we do for the State Trial Court. And then layer analytics on top of that data.
Marlene Gebauer 8:53
Yeah, well, I think we can I can speak for like everybody, when you say, Can I hear an amen?
Greg Lambert 8:58
Yes. One of the things that we brought you on, we want to talk about some of the technology behind the scenes that Trellis has, but if anyone has listened to more than a couple of episodes of this, though, know that I typically throw red flags up when vendors talk about the use of artificial intelligence. So
Nicole Clark 9:21
So do I.
Greg Lambert 9:23
So I want to I want to just go right up front here and ask what it is that when you say artificial intelligence or AI, they’re Trellis What are you talking about? How are you using it?
Nicole Clark 9:35
Yeah, and I think that’s a great point, AI is a super buzzword that is used a lot. When it’s not actually AI. We would use machine learning as the sort of aspect of AI. But let’s roll back for a second to, it wasn’t possible to use machine learning on the data set that we have originally. Because it’s fragmented raw data from 1000s of different places
Marlene Gebauer 7:19
Nicole Clark 7:19
Exactly hot mess. So what we had to do was structure the data to even begin with before there is any AI, you can apply to anything, you have to structure it. And then on top of that, we had to go through really with manual classifications, for structuring this data so that we could have models to even feed in to algorithms to make them better in the first place. And that’s still an aspect of what we do is a lot of logic based classifications that we can basically continue to make sure that we’re optimizing is the algorithm actually classifying any data correctly? So there’s a lot of different pieces of this, but it starts out with a messy raw data pile, and various levels before you get to AI.
Marlene Gebauer 10:49
So tell me, I just want to dig a little bit deeper into that, like, you know, so in terms of sort of organizing that data, like what were some of the steps that you had to do to get from point A to point B?
Nicole Clark 11:01
Yeah, it’s an ongoing process for sure. So as an example, if you think about the way that a personal injury case is, basically that is identified at an individual court, another court will listen entirely differently PI plus two personal injury, P injury. So what we have to do, I can see
Marlene Gebauer 11:23
you and not even not even consistently in the same court.
Nicole Clark 11:27
the same court, it kills us. I know. Absolutely. So what we have to do is basically recreate our own structure. So we have what we call a personal injury case. And then every 1000 ways that a court can identify a personal injury case, we mapped back to our personal injury. So really creating Trellis as sort of the source of truth on what the structure of the data is, and mapping all of the messy data back into that.
Marlene Gebauer 11:50
It’s like you’re creating your own nature of suit, essentially.
Nicole Clark 11:54
Absolutely. Now, that goes the same for judges every different way you could say, a judge name, parties. I mean, there were so many different aspects of this to create a clean dataset to begin with, that are just ongoing, constant efforts for us.
Marlene Gebauer 12:10
So this is like the softball question of the podcast. But for legal knowledge professionals out there, you know, how do the analytics you compile and Trellis benefit them?
Nicole Clark 12:23
Oh, that is a softball. Love it. So one of the things I would say would be the judge analytics. When I was practicing, you know, we would send around emails that said, does anyone have any intel on judge so and so. And I would collect anecdotes back from colleagues and then make really important decisions based on that. So from a from a starting place judge analytics, being able to see how your judge rules on very specific motions from the start of a case, do you want to try to request assignment to a different judge, you have a narrow window of time to do that. So certainly judge analytics, also just case evaluation and verdict analytics. But then also just take the time that it saves you from logging on to 1000s of different websites to find a case and being able to do it on a single site. So sort of the Google of the state trial courts, if you will.
Greg Lambert 13:12
In the information itself, what’s the interface? Is it pure web interface? Or do you have I imagine you have downloads and what about API’s? Do you have any API’s as of yet,
Nicole Clark 13:28
I love that you asked that we are actually in development, final development of our API right now, which is becoming more and more requested by clients. So we’re super excited to be able to map our data directly into platforms going forward, where people need sort of individual little pieces and don’t need, or they already use the end user platform, right? They use us on the web, but also they’re doing a project where they need very specific data. So we’re excited to be able to fill that soon with API’s.
Greg Lambert 13:58
So you know, there’s a number when it comes to especially docket information, court information. There’s a number of players in the area right now. And I would imagine that a lot of firms like mine, have multiple platforms that we use, because just they’re you know, the information is, is just everywhere. And let me give you a chance here, if you had a chance to talk directly to the attorneys or to the legal professionals in those law firms. How would you pitch using Trellis say over any of those other competitors?
Nicole Clark 14:37
Yeah, I think the fact that we focus on the state trial courts is really a benefit for us. We’re not trying to handle Court of Appeals data, we’re not trying to handle federal data, we focus on trying to really do one thing, and it’s a really hard thing. So what we love to see is actually the attorneys themselves using it. Our clients that are the most successful have, of course, knowledge management, and partners using analytics, but they have their associates in there doing the groundwork of looking up opposing counsel’s prior motions, being able to understand how they’re likely to position something again, in the future. You know, looking up the judge and the particular legal issue, how did they rule along on that particular legal issue in the past? So really doing strategic legal research on our platform, rather than what I would say is available, but still in smaller doses at the state trial court level, we just sort of high level docket research alone, because we have searchable file to documents. It’s a different level of strategic information that you can get on the granular but then also obviously zoomed out for analytics.
Greg Lambert 15:42
Is there a particular group either practicing lawyers or allied professionals, who are kind of in your sweet spot who have a adopted Trellis as their primary user? If so, what is it about those groups that draw them to Trellis?
Nicole Clark 16:01
What we see is it’s more of a practice area of folks that are going to be litigating in state trial court constantly. So what we see a lot is employment litigators, anyone dealing with products, liability, class action, coverage cases, everything where you’re really fighting it out in the state trial court system, those are our sweet spot, because we can offer information that they haven’t been able to find on other platforms. You know, if you’re doing bankruptcy work, we’re probably not the right platform for that.
Marlene Gebauer 16:29
Let’s expand that a bit and look at the types of customers who use Trellis Do you find that this is more for typical law firms on the corporate defense side of things? Or are you actually getting some draw on the plaintiff side of things?
Nicole Clark 16:44
and there is there we’ve got all of those categories. So we do see it both plaintiff and defense, if you think about it, generally, there’s going to be two sides on a case you’re going to have probably a smaller plaintiffs firm and maybe a large defense firm on the other side, both of them need information about the case. Both of them need information about the judge. Now, I was a defense attorney my entire career. And it’s actually really interesting to watch the difference. What we see is we grow faster on the plaintiff side because they share information and they tell each other what sort of products they are finding helpful. The defense side are of course, you know, bigger contracts and its entire firms, but it’s a much slower sales cycle in so I worry that plaintiffs can adopt technology a little bit faster and coming from being a defense attorney. I hope that’s not the case. But it is interesting.
Marlene Gebauer 17:36
So what about interests from corporate legal teams or customers that may not be lawyers? What kind of use to these analytics have beyond the traditional legal groups.
Nicole Clark 17:47
So we do have both of those as customer types as well. So on the on the GC Corporation side, think of your large corporations that are getting sued a lot, maybe gig wage economy, all of those folks that are have a lot of state trial court cases, they’re using us think of it as almost to track their portfolio of litigation. So rather than what they have right now, which is a lot of individual law firms that are handling different cases across the country, they’re able to use Trellis to say, okay, these are all of our cases, we’re gonna get alerts when things change so that I don’t have to rely on counsel, but I can check in on them and say, Hey, we noticed that hearing took place, tell us what happened. And then we also have the other side, which is a variety of industries that utilize state trial court data that have actually been surprising to me. So I came in thinking this was for litigators. It was a legal product, but really, the legal data can be utilized across industries. So what we’re seeing is insurance heavy pull from insurance, that definitely one that want our data via API, but all, you know, entirely state court regulated. So lots there. We see interesting ones of like property management, where all the landlord tenant eviction data is in the state trial court. So there’s there or HR platforms that use us to see if employees have sued prior employers before. So there’s a lot of really interesting use cases that I’m watching our users actually teach me how they utilize our data.
Greg Lambert 19:19
When we put that question together, I was thinking I was I was gonna hear something like, oh, well, academics use it to create their whatever their latest paper is. But those are some interesting use cases. And I mean, there’s a lot of information that’s buried in state court dockets. And it’s always been kind of the Holy Grail. To get to those Yeah, exactly.
Marlene Gebauer 19:41
I mean, it sounds like from what you were saying that the clients are being proactive and sort of monitoring their litigation footprint at the state level, if you will. Are they using that? Or are you finding that they’re using that in any type of proactive way that okay, you know, here, here’s the, here’s the descriptive content. And it’s going to influence our behavior, somehow?
Nicole Clark 20:04
What we’re seeing it as one element of that would be choosing counsel. So a lot of times there’ll be choosing between law firms, and they’re usually sort of taking recommendations from other folks that they know, or they have relationships built. But every now and then there’s a case in a strange county that they don’t know anything about. And then have a look on Trellis. See which firms litigate their which handle this type of case, which actual attorneys do they want from that firm to be on their case. So it’s kind of a window into sort of transparency in litigation that really hasn’t existed to the same degree before.
Greg Lambert 20:41
We talked earlier about how difficult it is and how on unified the court dockets are in court information as and Marlene hears this all the time. But back 20 years ago, I was I was working with actually longer than that now. The Oklahoma Supreme Court where we were trying to create a unified docket system and just how, how painful that was, just because it you know, everyone enters in data differently. And if there’s no rules, but let’s talk about the coverage that you have. So what are I know, you get California and New York and Texas, which are huge. What other states do you have? And what’s kind of on the horizon for you?
Nicole Clark 21:25
Yeah, we’re continuing to move really aggressively in terms of data acquisition. So we are 16 states currently, I just looked at something like 800. This I don’t even remember because it changes on a daily basis on a county level, because we’re bringing it in trying to bring in a new county a day is really what we try for.
Greg Lambert 19:02
Nicole Clark 21:46
I know, I’d imagine my engineering team. But we sort of prioritized the country by and that’s obviously why we did California and New York and Texas and Florida first, but by volume of litigation, value of litigation, population size, all of these different pieces are sort of ways that we step back and think about how we prioritize coverage. We’re in an interesting place. Now we’ve got the heavy hitters of the country. Now it’s interesting to actually hear from clients where they have what they’re seeing is, Georgia is what it was an interesting one that we just released and learned about. New Jersey is another one where they seem smaller, but there actually is a high value litigation and so we’ll actually love hearing from our customers now the remaining counties that they think are just, you know, the worst part of their day to try to get done data from and then seeing if we can go after those.
Greg Lambert 22:44
What was the easiest state to get information from? And what was the hardest?
Marlene Gebauer 22:49
I was gonna ask that.
Nicole Clark 22:50
Oh, so the hardest ones are a variety. Illinois is still a hard one,
Marlene Gebauer 22:55
And why are they why are they difficult?
Nicole Clark 22:59
It depends you have different pieces that make it that make it difficult. One is just the legacy technology that they’re working with. The states that I would say are the are the counties that are the most difficult. Those are the ones that aren’t online at all. Now, the truth is for those, if they’re not online at all, you’re not gonna find them on Trellis yet, we’re really going after everything digital first, and then we’ll go in with humans and, and bring in this data. But by far, the ones that you have still have to send a runner in are unbelievable. How does that exist today? That that’s still a way that we have data locked up like that. The easiest are going to be some of the courts that were the most structured or that already have at least the majority of their counties on one, one system, which doesn’t mean that it’s structured, but it simply means there was structure there that maybe they put into a lot of different ways, but at least it’s mapping back to sort of one area so that when we’re able to get that, then we’ve gotten a good chunk of the state, and those are really the big wins.
Greg Lambert 24:01
So for those listening, this is this is not Nicole saying this, this is this is me saying this is whenever you’re dealing with like when I was in Oklahoma, and all of the county court clerks are elected officials.
Nicole Clark 24:13
Greg Lambert 24:13
Anytime you’re dealing with elected officials who have information it is it makes it political. And that makes it really hard to pull the information. So I learned that firsthand. So you know, hats off to you.
Marlene Gebauer 24:31
But yes, all right. So we’re gonna, we’re gonna play a game here. Let’s say, you know, I’m a partner or an advertiser or advising a partner at a law firm, and I have access to Charles, how can I leverage it to help me with the following issues? And I’ll just say the first one, understanding my opposing counsel?
Nicole Clark 24:51
Absolutely. So I would start with looking at a law firm, you can also start with looking up your actual opposing counsel, the individual attorney, but start with a law firm, and then go broad. How often do they handle this type of case? So how many cases? How many cases? Do they have active right now? How busy are they? Do they take this case to trial? Do they settle before after MSJ? I mean, these are basic pieces of research that we should be doing on our opposing counsel from the very start of any case, it’s that the data is available now. So we can no longer sort of try to rely on anecdotes, but really just dig in and look. And that I think is sort of from a high level. And then when you get in and you actually, what we’re jury instructions that were filed by opposing counsel was similar matter, how did they think about this case, I mean, there’s a lot of really deep granular ways to get into sort of thought process. And what we found is, you know, attorneys, they we there’s a there’s a lot, they’re busy. So when they’re writing something, they usually find something that someone else in the firm wrote, or they have one of their own motion that they wrote in the past, and they’re using that as a template. So it really does mean that when you find motions that are on point that your opposing counsel filed, you’re likely to get a really good understanding of at least how they’re going to structure their argument, the way they’re going to think about it. So I’d say, you know, all the way from zoomed out, how do they take cases to trial? How do they think about it down to your individual motion practice looking at opposing counsel.
Marlene Gebauer 26:21
And if they’ve moved firms, I mean, you look at the firm first, and then you’re looking at the individual to see if there’s any others.
Nicole Clark 26:28
There’s some interesting individual actually, that’s one of the things we struggle with in terms of sort of lawyer and law firm analytics is, well, this lawyer was at this firm, how do we map their win back now they’ve moved laterally three times? So it’s lots of fun data problems there. But no, just down to the firm handled it, but the individual attorney on it does matter. So that’s why you want to look at the actual file documents. So you can see who’s listed in the caption, who was actually drafting the motions, because there can sometimes be a variety, obviously, depending on how large the room is, if you had a smaller firm and it is two folks, you’re gonna have a great understanding of the way they work. You may need to dig a little bit deeper when it’s a very large firm.
Greg Lambert 27:08
Your reports on the judges’ tendencies are I think, even have a jury tendencies as well. What do those look like? And what kind of information do they tell you?
Nicole Clark 27:19
So we go across a variety one is just a basic judge biography, where did you know all of your subjective information where they go to school, who were they appointed by career history, everything that you try to do we try and make that easy on one page, then the next is going to be high level stats. How many active cases is judge hearing right now? What types of cases are those if they’re personal injury? Let’s Say it’s like 50% Personal Injury docket. What does that actually mean? How many our products liability is, as opposed to right economic torts or whatever the case may be. And then we have a motions tab where you go granular motion by motion. So if I have, if I think this is a an MSJ case, I want to see exactly how my judge tends to rule. And for every metric, what we do is we give the context of other judges in the county and the state. So you’ll always see your judges stats first, and then county average, and then state average. So you can actually see where the judge was an outlier in comparison to other judges, which can be really helpful because you can think, oh, that Judge never grants this motion, but then no one state does either. So it’s not that helpful. And then finally, we just go across timing analysis, basically, by case type, how long does a case sit before particular judge by practice area? And then how long will it take till you first get in front of the judge at a conference? How long will it take if you’re going to go out the way most cases do, which is a settlement? Or if you’re going to make it all the way through trial? What does that look like with this judge?
Marlene Gebauer 28:47
So I like that you mentioned settlement, because I think that Trellis can help with understanding what type of settlement range perhaps a practitioner can look at. And I that’s very interesting, because I think a lot of the other analytics platforms kind of shy away from that.
Nicole Clark 29:05
It’s a difficult aspect, because in one sense, it’s usually private information. So there’s that piece there that makes it more difficult. We have a couple of pieces that are really interesting. So beyond your sort of verdict, high level analytics, if you look class action cases, this is what this was my favorite, because that’s what I did. So it’s it was my sort of game changer. But class action cases of settlements all have to be approved by the judge, which means you will have all of the settlement figures on trellis what went to attorney’s fees, what went to the class, how big was the class? What was it? So there’s pieces there on the class action side, that give visibility that have really never, ever been possible before.
Greg Lambert 29:48
And a lot of our listeners also do business development. How does using something like this help with business development?
Nicole Clark 29:56
I think it’s, you know, when you’re thinking about this is probably going to be the most helpful if you’re pitching, let’s say, small, large businesses or corporations, folks that get sued a lot that you can actually find some information about. So one way is you simply search the company from the start, when you’re going into pitch them. You see what are the types of cases that they deal with? actually trying to understand their business needs, right? What, what are they actually facing? So they can go in and actually speak to it? When judges? Are they in front of can you tell them anything about that judge? Look at who their counsel was previously, how is that counsel doing? How did they handle those cases? So there’s a lot of pieces of information that you can glean before a pitch meeting, to really position why the firm is going to be the best, the best to be able to represent them. And I think those are pieces you should be doing no matter what if you’re going into pitch a client.
Greg Lambert 30:47
So you’ve been doing this for four years. You practice before that? Is there anything that your customers are doing with the data that you think is clever, unique in the way that they’re using the data?
Nicole Clark 31:03
The utilizing us as a giant brief bank was one that’s so obvious to me now that I didn’t think of originally, I thought, oh, they’ll pull, you know, documents, but really just to utilize it as hey, I can use the entire state trial court system as a brief bank. That was one that I was like, of course, that’s genius. And then it would be all of the interesting industries that utilize our data banks, we see sometimes utilize us to do sort of an additional to credit checks to look up a you know, are there any other red flags are so many interesting pieces there that I continue to learn about how our data can be valuable?
Marlene Gebauer 31:41
So you know, I had the softball question earlier. Now I have the crystal ball question now. So we asked
Greg Lambert 31:47
All our questions are spherical.
Marlene Gebauer 31:51
full circle, everything is a circle. You know, we ask all of our guests to pull out their crystal ball and peer into the future for us. What is your crystal ball telling you about how the marketplace and trellis is changing over the next five years or so?
Nicole Clark 32:07
I think there’s actually going to be a lot of changing. I think the pandemic has definitely helped firms with adoption of technology. We’re seeing that it’s easier to train. It’s easier to have webinars with folks. But I think what we’re seeing is on the one hand right now, utilizing this type of data is seen as Oh, it’s a competitive advantage. You could give me some additional information. I genuinely think that this will become industry standard, that of course, you will do this research from the start of your case to look of opposing counsel to look at your judge that those are table stakes in the way you should think about really representing the client. And then also just from the industry side, I’d say I think there’s probably going to be a fair amount of consolidation between smaller legal tech companies and M&A taking place. And I think what we’re going to see because that’s what we’re hearing, and it’s sort of goes to the data on the API side, people are tired of more platforms. And I have a platform. So I can say this. But how do we get them data into more of a single source to make it easier for their attorneys and serve up the data directly to the attorneys where they’re not logging on? And we’re trying to remember passwords for a whole variety of different platforms. And so that’s something we have to think about in terms of how do we deliver data in a way that’s going to make sense for that.
Greg Lambert 33:26
Great. Well, Nicole Clark from Trellis. Thank you very much for coming in and talking with us today.
Marlene Gebauer 33:32
Thank you, Nicole.
Nicole Clark 30:50
So great being here. Thanks for having me.
Marlene Gebauer 33:38
I was saying offline, like anytime anybody, you know, is doing something with state court analytics. I’m like all ears because we’ve just been waiting years and years and years and years for this to happen. And it was very cool some of these ways. I’m always also interested in seeing how people use the data, and just some of the stuff she was highlighting was just, you know, very, very, very interesting, very unique.
Greg Lambert 34:03
Yeah. And I think that the fact that again, here’s another company that’s going to be integrating API’s into their output for this. I think that’s why for the crystal ball question, you’re seeing much more of, we’re going to have these cross platforms that are coming in that you can kind of mix and match and get information directly to the consumer, in our case, the attorneys or to the researchers. So I think, you know, as we talk and talk to more of the vendors out there, that these API Interfaces are going to be all the rage and probably setting the tone for the next five or six years, at least. And again, you know, back to your point, state court materials are difficult. In fact, I, the one time I probably got in the most trouble ever of my career, was I made a comment how one County’s court clerk enters in information one way and another County’s court clerk enters in information in a different way. And I did that in a CLE presentation, and I get yelled at by one of those county court clerks. Because she thought I was being derogatory to her. I was like, No, I’m just saying that this is different. And you know, at that, at that point, at least, if you didn’t spell it, the way they spelled it, you didn’t get it back. So, you know, there’s been a lot of advancements in how information is gathered and retrieved now.
Marlene Gebauer 35:40
Yeah, well, as you were saying, like, I think API’s are the way we’re finally going to get the customization that, you know, again, every time we talk to a vendor, we’ve always begged for, you know, can it do this? And can it do this? And this way, we can just take the information and make it happen.
Greg Lambert 35:57
Yeah, yeah. And we talked briefly after, in fact, I probably should have said something during but again, here’s another woman in legal tech that is making a difference. And in it when we were off camera, we were saying that, you know, we want more, we need more of this, we need wins, so here’s one more. Yep. So thanks again to Nicole Clark from Trellis for taking the time to come in and talk to us.
Marlene Gebauer 36:25
And of course, thanks to all of you for taking the time to listen to The Geek in Review podcast. If you enjoy the show, share it with a colleague. We’d love to hear from you. So reach out to us on social media. I can be found at @gebauerm on Twitter.
Greg Lambert 36:38
And I can be reached @glambert on Twitter.
Marlene Gebauer 36:41
Or you can leave us a voicemail on The Geek in Review Hotline at 713-487-7270. And as always, the music you hear is from Jerry David DeCicca. Thank you, Jerry.
Greg Lambert 36:52
Thanks, Jerry. All right. Marlene, talk with you later.
Marlene Gebauer 36:55
All right, bye.