Artificial Intelligence

If you’re my age or older, you most likely remember the first rudimentary spreadsheet application you used.  You may not remember the actual moment you discovered the sort functionality, but you probably remember the feeling you got when you hit that button for the first time. In one magical moment, a jumbled list of items – randomly entered in the nonsensical order they popped into your brain – was immediately transformed into a perfectly alphabetized list worthy of your municipal library’s card catalog.  Amazing!  Revolutionary! Life changing?!

Today we live in the world of Generative AI.  It is amazing, revolutionary, and probably life changing. This technology has already changed, and will continue to change, how we use and interact with computers in business, and in our personal lives.  I use it daily.  I use it in solutions for my clients.  It takes tedious tasks of text transformation and turns them into simple push button experiences.  Just like the sort function does.

An 50 year old male professional with curly hair.jpgOf course, GenAI does a lot more than order or sort text.  It translates.  It rewrites.  It summarizes. It clarifies.  It extracts. It interpolates. It expounds upon. It combines THIS and THAT into one thing.  It re-imagines THIS, as if it were actually THAT. It recontextualizes THIS as if THAT didn’t exist. Its capabilities go well beyond simply sorting a list.  In fact, it often gets simple sorting wrong, because it doesn’t use a hard-coded algorithm to produce it’s text transformation. Instead, GenAI uses vast troves of written example language to determine the probability of the next word it should write, and then the next, and the next… until it reaches it’s maximum output or it runs out of space.

The results of this seemingly simple exercise are impressive.  It means that any writer with a rough idea of what they want to write, no longer needs to stare at a blank page (or screen), they simply ask a question or propose a concept and the technology generates a draft.  Any reader who doesn’t want to read a 400 page transcript of a court proceeding, can get a summary that guides them directly to the “important” parts of the text.  And any person who needs to transform any text from one form, or language, or perspective, to another can get a draft version of that transformation very easily and quickly.

A stupid robot sit in front of a computer making m.jpg

However, there is a downside to Generative AI.  It so easily manipulates and transforms text, that it often gives the appearance of being intelligent.  This is an illusion.  We tend to identify people who easily manipulate and transform text as intelligent people, which gives rise to the fallacy that a machine that does the same is an intelligent machine. We talk about GenAI “passing the bar exam”, as if that means it understands the law, and then we further extrapolate that we can use GenAI to replace lawyers.  As tempting as that proposition might be to those of us who are not lawyers but work with them regularly, it’s not going to happen any time soon, if ever.Continue Reading GenAI & the Magical Sort Button

In this episode of The Geek in Review podcast, hosts Greg Lambert and Kate Boyd from Sente Advisors (standing in for Marlene Gebauer) sit down with Giles Thompson, Head of Growth, and Jun Choi, Growth Executive at Avvoka, to discuss the company’s innovative approach to document automation and the impact of generative AI on the legal industry.

Avvoka is a no-code document automation platform that enables legal professionals to streamline the creation and management of complex legal documents and contracts. The company has recently introduced AI-enhanced features such as SmartAutomation (with GenAI) and SmartConsolidation , which aim to simplify the process of building automations.

Giles and Jun highlight the differences in knowledge management practices between the US and UK, with the former being more technology-focused and the latter being more human-centric. Avvoka’s platform caters to both law firms and in-house legal teams, with clients ranging from Warner Brothers Discovery and McDonald’s to booking.com.

The company also hosts a vendor-agnostic community event series called “Logically Drafted,” which bring together legal professionals interested in document automation to share their experiences and insights. These events have gained traction globally, with upcoming sessions planned for Houston (Tuesday 18 June) and Chicago (Friday 21 June), and other cities.

Looking ahead, Avvoka is focusing on integrating generative AI technologies into its platform while ensuring data security and client control. The company is collaborating with clients to provide flexibility in terms of hosting and integrating large language models, allowing them to maintain control over their data and manage risks associated with these emerging technologies.

Giles and Jun emphasize the importance of being realistic about the capabilities and limitations of generative AI in the legal industry. They believe that document automation will continue to play a crucial role, with AI serving as an enhancement rather than a replacement for existing tools and processes. The key challenge for vendors like Avvoka will be to navigate the hype surrounding generative AI while delivering practical, value-driven solutions to their clients.

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TranscriptContinue Reading Avvoka’s Innovative Approach to Document Automation and the Impact of Generative AI – Giles Thompson and Jun Choi

In this special episode of The Geek in Review, host Greg Lambert sits down with Ed Walters, Chief Strategy Officer at vLex, to discuss two significant announcements: the integration of vLex’s Vincent AI with iManage Work and the automated docket ingestion feature with iManage using vLex’s Docket Alarm.

The integration between Vincent AI and iManage’s Insight Plus collection allows law firms to leverage their internal knowledge assets alongside vLex’s extensive public law database. This combination of the “two halves of the legal brain” enables lawyers to create brilliant first drafts and analyze documents using the power of generative AI. Walters emphasizes the importance of data quality and the role of knowledge management teams in curating the best practice documents for training AI models.

Security is a top priority for both vLex and iManage in this integration. Walters details the various measures taken to ensure data protection, including encryption, dedicated master keys for each firm, and compliance with industry standards such as ISO 27001 and SOC 2. He also clarifies that vLex uses retrieval-augmented generation, securely passing relevant documents to a closed instance of the foundation model without training on the data itself.

The second announcement focuses on the automated docket ingestion feature, which seamlessly saves court filings from Docket Alarm into the correct iManage folders. This practical solution eliminates the manual process of saving documents and ensures that all team members have access to the most up-to-date versions of the filings.

Looking ahead, Walters hints at future integration points between vLex and iManage, emphasizing the potential for generative AI to help law firms differentiate their services and meet client expectations. He sees Vincent AI as a secure bridge between generative AI and a firm’s internal work product, enabling them to leverage their knowledge assets without the need for expensive, in-house foundation models.

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https://youtu.be/uDHXq8UT1UU

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Music: ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Jerry David DeCicca⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠

 Transcript

Continue Reading vLex Integrates Vincent AI with iManage and Automates Docket Ingestion with Docket Alarm

In this impromptu episode of The Geek in Review, hosts Marlene Gebauer and Greg Lambert reconnect after being on the road for a few weeks. They discuss their recent “Love and LegalTech” mini-series, which featured eight couples sharing their experiences working in the legal technology industry. The series provided insights into communication, work-life integration, and the passion for innovation shared by the guests. 

The conversation then shifts to a recent webinar by Toby Brown and Ian Wilson, where they discussed the potential impact of AI tools on law firm hours and profits. While the idea of AI reducing billable hours may seem controversial, the hosts agree that firms must adopt these tools to remain competitive. They also touch on the importance of aligning innovation with practice groups and the need for subject matter experts and people with strong interpersonal skills to drive change management.

Greg demonstrates an example of agentic AI using a tool called Crew AI. He sets up a task to search for information on a company called Take 5 Oil Change, using multiple AI agents to gather, synthesize, and report the findings. The process involves using SERPER, a Google search agent, an AI agent (Anthropic Claude), and a reporting agent. The output includes a log of the actions taken and a one-page report on the company, its leadership, and industry classification.

The hosts discuss the potential applications of agentic AI, such as quickly gathering information for client pitches or identifying legal issues. They also explore the possibility of running AI agents within secure cloud environments to address data privacy concerns. While the concept of agentic AI is still evolving, the hosts believe there is significant potential for these tools to streamline processes and enhance efficiency in the legal industry.

The episode concludes with a lighthearted mention of Greg’s AI-generated song created by UDIO about checking conflicts before going on vacation, showcasing the creative possibilities of AI tools in the legal profession.

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Transcript

Continue Reading Catching Up on AI Agents, and Agentic Processes

In this episode of The Geek in Review podcast, hosts Marlene Gebauer and Greg Lambert welcome back Richard Tromans, founder of Artificial Lawyer, after his year-and-a-half sabbatical. Tromans shares his insights on the impact of generative AI on the legal industry and discusses his upcoming Legal Innovators conferences in California and London.

Tromans observes that while the legal industry is generally enthusiastic about the potential of generative AI, there is a stark contrast in the perception of its impact outside the legal bubble. He believes that the technology will have a significant effect on the legal sector, but it will be mostly benign, with the potential to add value to the profession once the hype and cynicism subside.

The key to real transformation, according to Tromans, lies in integrating AI throughout the entire business process, rather than using it as a mere helper tool. This integration should encompass document management systems, knowledge management capabilities, templates, and precedents. However, he emphasizes that the current economic model of the legal industry must adapt to the technology for true transformation to occur.

Tromans also discusses the upcoming Legal Innovators California conference in San Francisco, which will focus on generative AI, standardization, and the infrastructure needed to support the evolving legal landscape. The event will feature speakers from law firms, in-house legal departments, academia, and major tech companies.

Looking ahead, Tromans believes that the biggest challenge for the legal industry over the next two to five years will be the willingness of clients and law firms to embrace change and rethink their processes. He argues that the industry could have adopted AI-driven solutions years ago, but the impetus to do so was lacking. The success of this “gentle revolution” will depend on the ability of clients and law firms to challenge assumptions and adapt to the changing technological landscape.

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Transcript

Continue Reading Artificial Lawyer’s Richard Tromans: Back to Work!

In this episode of The Geek in Review podcast, hosts Marlene Gebauer and Greg Lambert welcome Jeroen Thierens, Strategic Account Advisor, and Jorn Vanysacker, co-founder of Henchman, a Belgian legal tech company that focuses on building an intelligent drafting assistant for lawyers working on complex transactional contracts based on precedents in the firm’s DMS.

Vanysacker shares the story behind Henchman’s founding, emphasizing the importance of solving a clear problem with a focused product strategy. The company’s mission is to unlock the collective knowledge within law firms and legal departments by connecting to their document management systems, recognizing contracts and clauses, and making this information easily accessible within Microsoft Word and Outlook.

Henchman serves both in-house legal teams and law firms, with a customer base spanning from boutique firms to AmLaw 200 firms. The platform addresses two main use cases: drafting transactions and assisting knowledge management teams in gaining data-driven insights to prioritize their work and boost relevant knowledge in search results.

The discussion also touches on Henchman’s integration with Microsoft Copilot, which aims to provide more accurate results when drafting contracts by leveraging the structured data and metadata within the platform. The company’s European perspective is reflected in its language-agnostic system, which works seamlessly with multiple languages, making it an attractive solution for global law firms.

Looking ahead, Vanysacker and Thierens discuss the challenges and opportunities presented by generative AI in the legal industry. While acknowledging the potential of large language models, they emphasize the importance of context and accuracy in transactional work. Henchman’s approach is to use AI as a tool to enhance their product, focusing on providing the next best options rather than just the next best words, ultimately aiming to become the “Chief of Staff” for each legal professional.

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Transcript

Continue Reading Jorn Vanysacker & Jeroen Thierens from Henchman: We Are Building the “Chief of Staff” For Each Legal Professional

In this episode of “The Geek in Review” podcast, co-hosts Greg Lambert and Marlene Gebauer interview Ryan McClead and Kate Boyd, the CEO and COO of Sente Advisors, respectively, as part of their “Love and Legal Tech” series. The interview delves into the couple’s history in the legal technology space, their experience working together, and the challenges and benefits of being in a relationship while also being colleagues.

Ryan and Kate share their extensive backgrounds in legal technology, with Ryan starting in the industry in 2003 and eventually becoming the head of innovation at a law firm, while Kate began her career as an intern at a law firm and later transitioned to the vendor side, working for companies such as HighQ, Compliance HR, and Kira Systems. The couple met while working together at HighQ and became good friends before starting their own companies in 2018 and eventually dating.

When discussing the best aspects of working together, Kate mentions the empathy and understanding they have for each other’s work habits and the ability to help one another when stuck on a problem. Ryan adds that working together eliminates the need to “download” their workdays to each other every night, as they are already aware of what the other is dealing with. However, they also acknowledge the challenge of not letting work consume their entire lives and the importance of setting aside time for non-work activities.

The couple shares their experiences with reactions from others when they reveal that they work together, ranging from surprise to curiosity. They also discuss how they handle disagreements within their company, emphasizing the value of their different perspectives and the trust they have built in each other’s problem-solving abilities.

When asked about the interesting projects they are currently working on, Ryan and Kate highlight their involvement in AI-related projects, product launches, and technology evaluations for clients. They also offer advice for couples considering working together, stressing the importance of maintaining separate work and personal personas, knowing each other’s strengths, and nurturing professional friendships outside of their shared work life.

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Music: ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Jerry David DeCicca⁠⁠⁠⁠ and Eve Searls

⁠Transcript

Continue Reading Love and Legal Tech – Kate Boyd and Ryan McClead of Sente Advisors

In this episode of The Geek in Review podcast, hosts Marlene Gebauer and Greg Lambert wrap up their series of interviews from the LegalWeek 2024 conference in New York with a conversation with Kelly Griswold, CEO of Onna. Kelly shares her objectives for attending the conference, which include interacting with customers and partners, staying on top of industry trends and innovations, and bringing her remote team together to build community.

Kelly provides an overview of Onna, explaining that the company primarily serves enterprise and corporate clients by managing their unstructured data with a focus on internal collaboration apps. Onna collects and integrates with various data sources to establish live connectivity and data transformation, making the data ready for searching and discovery to power downstream workflows such as litigation requests, early case assessment, and investigations. Kelly emphasizes the importance of data management as a necessary enabler for future innovations in the legal tech space.

The conversation touches on the challenges of managing data in the enterprise and how Onna helps clients improve their processes. Kelly explains that Onna’s approach involves helping enterprises build a data foundation that is accessible when needed, allowing them to skip several steps in the traditional linear workflow. This value proposition is particularly appealing to enterprises looking to avoid downstream costs by having better visibility and control over their data.

Kelly also discusses the impact of generative AI on the legal industry, noting that while there is a lot of buzz around the technology, companies are realizing the importance of getting their data in order before diving into experimentation and implementation. She believes that the awareness brought by the hype around generative AI is driving companies to make fundamental investments in data management.

Looking to the future, Kelly shares her crystal ball prediction for the next 5-10 years, envisioning a world where natural language communication and automation will transform the way legal workflows are handled. She imagines a scenario where drafting a contract could be done through verbal communication and a system that asks questions and generates the agreement, reducing the need for manual, hands-on work.

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Transcript

Continue Reading Kelly Griswold of Onna on the Fundamental Investments Needed in Data Management

In this week’s episode of “The Geek in Review” podcast, co-hosts Greg Lambert and Marlene Gebauer interview Michael Bommarito and Jill Bommarito, the CEO and Chief Risk Officer of 273 Ventures, respectively. The couple, who have been together since high school, share their experiences working together in the legal technology space.

Michael and Jill discuss the advantages and challenges of working closely together in the same organization. They highlight the benefits of being able to bounce ideas off each other in real-time and the ability to seamlessly cover for one another when family responsibilities arise. However, they also acknowledge the lack of boundaries between work and home life, which can be both a blessing and a curse.

The Bommaritos also detail their work at 273 Ventures, particularly their focus on developing Large Language Models (LLMs) with a clean data approach. Jill, one of the world’s first certified AI auditors, brings her expertise in compliance and risk management to ensure that the models are built ethically and in accordance with legal standards. Michael shares his excitement about the potential applications of their LLMs, such as automating due diligence processes and drafting contract revisions based on identified risks.

When asked about the reactions they receive from others regarding working together, the couple admits that most people express sympathy and curiosity about how they manage to do it successfully. They attribute their success to their long history together and the shared experiences they have had, both personally and professionally.

Finally, the Bommaritos offer advice to other couples considering working in the same field or business. They emphasize the importance of being certain that both partners are fully committed to the idea, as it can be an all-consuming experience. They also stress the significance of knowing each other well before embarking on such a venture, as a strong foundation is crucial for navigating the challenges that come with working closely together.

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⁠Transcript

Continue Reading Love and Legal Tech – Jillian Bommarito and Michael Bommarito of 273 Ventures