What does it really take to make document automation work well? Many firms are intimidated by the initial heavy lifting in document automation, but it’s worth the effort! Catherine Bamford is an absolute expert on the subject, along with other legal practice automations that bring huge time savings to modern law firms. Catherine joins Dennis and Tom to share her expertise on current trends in automation, knowledge management, collaboration, and more.
As always, stay tuned for the parting shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can use the second the podcast ends.
Have a technology question for Dennis and Tom? Call their Tech Question Hotline at 720-441-6820 for the answers to your most burning tech questions.
Show Notes – Kennedy-Mighell Report #354
A Segment: Fresh Voices on Legaltech – Catherine Bamford
B Segment: Continued discussion with Catherine Bamford
Intro: Got the world turning as fast as you can, hear how technology can help legally speaking with two of the top legal technology experts, authors and lawyers, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Welcome to the Kennedy-Mighell Report here on the Legal Talk Network.
Dennis Kennedy: And welcome to episode 354 of the Kennedy-Mighell Report. I’m Dennis Kennedy in Ann Arbor.
Tom Mighell: And I’m Tom Mighell in Dallas.
Dennis Kennedy: In our last episode, we talked with Flo Nicolas of the DEI Directive as part of our Fresh Voices on legal tech series. We highly recommend that episode, if you haven’t already listened to it. Lots of great insights.
In this episode, we have another very special guest in our Fresh Voices series. In Fresh Voices, we want to showcase different and compelling perspectives on legal tech and much more. We have another fabulous guest. Tom, what’s all on our agenda for this episode?
Tom Mighell: Well, Dennis, in this edition of the Kennedy-Mighell Report, we are thrilled to continue our Fresh Voices on legal tech interview series with Catherine Bamford, who is CEO and founder of BamLegal, a legal tech advisor, a legal engineer and document automation expert, and a strong voice on legal technology on LinkedIn and elsewhere on the socials. We want our Fresh Voices series to not only introduce you to terrific leaders in the legal tech space, but also provide you with their unique perspective on the things you need to be paying attention to. As usual, we’ll finish up with our parting shots. That one tip website or observation, you can start to use the second that this podcast is over.
But first up, we are so pleased to welcome Catherine Bamford to our Fresh Voices series. Catherine, welcome to the Kennedy-Mighell Report.
Catherine Bamford: Great to be here. Thank you.
Tom Mighell: Before we get started, can you tell our audience a little more about yourself, what your role is at BamLegal, what our audience should know, what you do? What do you think we ought to know?
Catherine Bamford: Yeah, sure. Hi, everyone. BamLegal been running for about ten years now, and we ultimately help law firms, in-house legal teams, new law businesses to automate the delivery of their legal services. Personally, I specialize in legal document automation. So that’s automating, drafting of any legal documents, often contracts and agreements, quite often reports, suites of litigation documents, court documents.
More recently in recent years, been looking around automating the negotiation process and playbooks, doing a lot with those. And then right through the entire life cycle of transactions and litigation matters to e-signatures storage and then the data extraction and being able to find what’s in your contracts quickly after the event, which is very helpful for our in-house clients.
Dennis Kennedy: Great. Catherine, sometimes I get frustrated with how difficult it is to explain technology, both old and new, and its benefits to those in the legal profession. Would you talk about your own approach to communicating with lawyers and others in the legal profession about technology?
Catherine Bamford: I think when you work with lawyers, you have to respect how much work they’ve put in to get to where they are. And I think in the legal tech industry, there is a propensity to say, “oh, they just don’t get it. And why aren’t they using these tools? It’s so obvious. They should be using them. Why aren’t they jumping on board?” I think if you approach it with respect of their expertise and rather than telling people what to do, have a lot more conversations around. Some of my favorite workshops to run are, “what did you do last week that you felt was a waste of your time? Where do you wish you could add value to your clients? What sort of information do you wish you had at your fingertips, ready to give to your clients? How would you like to differentiate yourselves from your competitors? Do you know what your competitors are doing? Do you want to talk about some examples and use cases?” Bit of competition and friendly competition always helps.
I think when I first started, my approach was very much to build and show stuff. So rather than speaking about things hypothetically, I’d mockup an MVP and go, “would this be useful? Would this be helpful?” And when people have it in front of them. It’s much easier for people to understand concepts when they can actually see how something works rather than you trying to explain it.
And then I think once you have a few of those projects that have gone well, it’s then a lot easier because you’ve got the credibility and you can start to get statistics, return on investment, and say you realize your banking team by using this. Even within law firms that have lots of different departments, you can say you realize this department is now saving this many hours or has won this new client because they’re able to offer this. Would that be of interest to you?
So, I think, yeah, it’s definitely changed over the years. Now I’ve got more examples to say to people, but definitely use cases, demonstrations, but always remembering to respect the lawyers and their expertise rather than –
There’s a lot of lawyer bashing nowadays. As if lawyers don’t want to improve, and I think they do, you just have to help them to get there. And lawyers are problem solvers. So, once they get involved and you involve them in the design process of thinking up these new products and technologies and how they can help, they actually really enjoy that process. And often we’ll leave, like the workshops, for example, that I talk about feeling quite uplifted. It’s been a good day at work, if you like. So, yeah, they would be my kind of tips of how to communicate and bring them on board.
Tom Mighell: We like to talk a lot about technological competence for lawyers on the podcast. We tend to be grumpy about it. Not often the case or as often as it should be. So what you’re seeing with the lawyers in the workshops, in the groups that you’re doing, what is your current take on the state of lawyer competence of technology?
Catherine Bamford: Lawyer competence of technology generally is good compared to the average man on the street, the average person on the street, because we all use technology in our everyday lives for a lot that we do. But in terms of legal tech and how it can help, I think there’s unfortunately just not enough within the law firms training and education around what’s available and how it can help. And even basic tools, like before we even get into the automation and the legal tech tools, Word and Excel, that lawyers spend so much, Word in particular, so much time working within Word every single day. Nowadays, Teams as well, Microsoft 365, the whole suite. There’re so many tools they could be using that they’ll have training on new legislation that comes out to make sure that they are still the experts in the area, that they are to advise their clients. But I have regularly have partners that still can’t convert a Word document to a PDF and are asking someone to do that for them.
So, I think competency with basic tools could definitely be improved, but I don’t think they’re as scared of technology as they used to be. I think definitely there is a lot more interest and it’s just education and explaining is needed. I think the leadership needs to look at training that lawyers are given regularly and put more of an emphasis on technology.
Dennis Kennedy: Catherine, your insights to me on legal tech have always been great, and I love the international perspective that you bring. But you’ve recently been talking about document automation, and I think revealing some profound truths, if I can describe them that way. About what it really takes to make document automation work well? And I think that involves much more effort than most lawyers expect, even though the payoff is so worth it. Would you talk about some of your current thinking on document automation and document assembly?
Catherine Bamford: Yes, I was asked to give a speech on legal document automation, and what Tom just mentioned about document automation is such an easy win, if you like, and all law firms should be using it. All lawyers should be using it, but it’s still not widespread, and it’s not the day-to-day way that lawyers prepare legal documents. And why not? So I was going about it and I was thinking, “well, I’ll do kind of my standard pitfalls to avoid, or things that can go wrong and things on make sure you’ve got senior level sponsorship. Make sure you choose the right tools. Make sure you budget for resource, et cetera.”
And there was something niggling at me, and I thought, I’m not being honest here. And in previous years, because I’ve been so enthusiastic about document automation and the benefits it can bring to lawyers. I’ve spent a lot of time in my talks talking about all the benefits it can bring, really to try and sell it and making it sound maybe easier than it was. And I thought, I’m doing a disservice there to people, and I need to be honest
What lawyers do when they’re drafting documents is not as simple as filling in a few square brackets. And I think that’s how document automation has been sold. It’s like, “oh, it’s easy. You just ask a few questions and that’ll do it.” The nuances and the logic that lawyers have to think through to know what type of clause to include the links between clauses. So, if you don’t have a strong warranty about something, you maybe need to up the insurance or the liability level clauses. So, the nuances and the logic, it’s not simple to do, and the automation, the technology itself, has got so much better over the years, and there’s lots of great tools out there. But the initial stage of getting the subject matter expert, the lawyer, or the knowledge lawyer, the PSL, whoever’s giving the instructions to the person to do the automation, that bit is the hard bit.
And often, it’s not until you get started that they think, “oh, yeah, we’ll just ask. Is it A, B or C?” And then they go, “oh, no. Actually, now thinking about it and looking at it.” Well, B has three other things, and if it’s that one, then that affects that clause over there and that definition.”
I’ve been working on something recently, we’ve just rolled it out, and I think once we launched it had something like 16,000 different moving parts.
Tom Mighell: Wow!
Catherine Bamford: The benefits to the lawyers now of being able to answer a questionnaire quickly, it’s sometimes upsetting when you put so much work into something and then it’s so easy for them to answer and get a document out the other side. And they’re like, “why did that take four or five months to build?” But the benefits are the consistency, the accuracy, the time savings are huge. But yeah, I think previously, we’ve undersold the hard yards and the effort that goes into the initial thought process of working out the if then else to apply to the legal document and what you’re going to draft because of all those nuances, which is what the lawyers have worked hard to understand and do.
Tom Mighell: Can I ask a follow up about the technology? And I will use my company as an example. I’m not a practicing lawyer. The company that I worked for is a small consultancy. We do a lot of bespoke types of documents that are not really capable of having automation because they differ widely from client to client. But there are some areas that we could automate. However, trying to justify the purchase of a tool for a group of only a few lawyers is a little difficult for me. So, is it worthwhile trying to consider automation capabilities in something like Microsoft 365 using Word, or is it really that a tool is necessary? What would be the deciding factors on when to buy a tool and when you can actually use something like Word?
Catherine Bamford: Yes, so requirements for everyone are very different. if You are doing a lot of volume work where it’s all the same kind of thing, real estate deals, restructures, banking, financing, corporate deals absolutely, some of the tools out there to get those chunky documents automated quickly. When you’re doing more bespoke advice pieces often, if I was to say to you, it’s probably more I imagine that you would like to capture that knowledge and be able to retrieve and use that knowledge again in future. If one of those lawyers came to you and went, “I’ve got this.” It’s a bit different from that deal you did, but you did something like that. Do you still have it? Because I could maybe cut and paste a few bits from it. So, I would look more to a tool that allowed you to almost capture — more like a clause based.
Tom Mighell: On clause library, right?
Catherine Bamford: Yes, more like that kind of thing. I think we did a lot of work. We realized that we were seeing demos of all the different tools out there. So, we did a lot of work to try and break down all of those different requirements and all of the different things that all of the different tools do, and every client we speak to has slightly different requirements. And then you run them against what the tools do to get your optimal one.
There are now over 250 different legal document automation tools out there, and that’s before you get to tools that are more generic, that work for any industry. So, choosing the right one is very, very difficult because there’s even nuances around. With an in-house team that I would work for, they might want to alternate the sales contract that their sales teams draft. And for that, they might have 3,000 members of their sales team, but only 10 people in their legal team.
So, for them, a per user license model is not the right model because they have to pay for every salesperson to have one. Even things like licensing model, as well as the can you use a clause base. Does it automatically update? Cross references is important to some types of lawyers, it’s not to others. Can you do suites of documents? So, litigators, they often have to prepare if they’re doing injunctions like eight documents at the same time, but a lot of those documents will have the same information in. Do they have e-signature? Do they comply with various different security requirements that your organization might have?
So, everyone has these different requirements. I’ve not yet had a conversation with someone where I’ve gone, actually, no, I don’t think there’s any form of automation you could do that would help. And even if it’s just around, not just because it’s really important, but how we will store our knowledge so that it can be reused, so that you can grow as an organization and scale that consultancy. As you bring in more junior consultants, you don’t want them coming to you every time and you having to define and regive them the thing.
So automation can be used in knowledge management.
Tom Mighell: Yes, that is clearly our issue we need to solve. While we’re talking about tools, we want to talk to you about one of our favorite subjects, which is collaboration.
We’ve written a book about collaboration. We talk about it all the time. So, we like to hear how our guests collaborate. What are some of your favorite ways to collaborate? Whether it’s with clients, with customers, with colleagues, whoever you happen to work with. What are some of the most effective ways you have found to collaborate?
Catherine Bamford: So, in legal, we use internally and we’re small, really small, like a small group of under ten consultants. I also don’t have employees, so I subcontract expert’s dependent on the client use case and what they need. We use notion for everything. Absolutely love notion. We use it for everything from inquiry tracking, task management. So, what you previously might if you used like a Trello for and then gone somewhere else for something else for everything.
Interviews, so all those kinds of requirements that we get from all the software providers. We just send them a page for them to fill in themselves and that comes back.
Visualizations, embedding videos. Yeah, we use notion for absolutely everything. It’s really easy to share certain parts, have groups in one place. It’s brought together the best of all the previous tools we used to use. So like Slack and all those kinds of things. It’s like it’s all in one place now. And obviously with my large organization clients, we use Teams. I normally would go into their Teams and I’m really excited about some of the new things coming out through Teams.
Intelligent meetings is one that I heard about recently, and some of the things that going on there and a lot of the technologies. The newer technologies coming through, the ones that are doing well are ones that are going to sit within Teams so they don’t have to go somewhere else to find it and log in and everything else on a browser.
Tom Mighell: I think having one place to do as much as possible is really great. And you have found a safe haven here with me and Dennis because we are both heavy notion users for our own personal use. And then we use Teams for our podcast, but I use it at work almost exclusively.
All right, we’ve got a lot more to talk about with Catherine Bamford at BamLegal, but for now, let’s take a quick break for a word from our sponsors.
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Dennis Kennedy: And we’re back with Catherine Bamford at BamLegal. We’ve found in the Fresh Voices series that we’d love to hear about our guests’ career paths and our audience does as well. Would you talk about your career path and what kinds of things you’ve done?
Catherine Bamford: Yes, sure. Started off as a lawyer, commercial real estate was a national firm here in the UK, and I was about four years qualified when the recession hit. And I was really fortunate that I worked for a very forward-thinking firm who were very, the management at the time, were really interested in reinvent law and organizations like that, and reading all the new legal, kind of, future legal books that were coming out. And they thought rather than making a lot of redundancies, like a lot of firms did, that they were going to double down on efficiencies and tools to make us more efficient.
So, one of the things that they brought in was document automation technology. And I was chosen to go on an internal circumvent for my own team for three months to just focus on that. So, I was taken off fee earning work to learn how to use the tech and to automate the documents that my team were using. I fell in love with it. I was always a bit of a kind of math geek at school. I don’t know really how I fell into law, because I wasn’t someone that liked to write essays or anything like that. So, algebra is fun to me. Getting to apply and play with this tech.
It was in the early days, there wasn’t a lot of law firms doing a lot with it, and very quickly did a lot of things. Started to use it for things that hadn’t been seen before, so due diligence, for example. So previously, document automation had been very much focused on preparing the first drafts of transactional documents. And I was speaking to a banking lawyer at the time, and because it was the recession, they were working for — or they had got the opportunity to pitch to a large investment company who were buying all of the Irish Bank’s failing debt. To pitch for it, they needed to be able to do thousands of reviews of these real estate documents that the loans were secured against in a very short timeframe for a competitive price.
Catherine Bamford: And the firm that we’re currently doing this work. It was millions and millions of pounds worth of work for the law firm, was one of the magic circle firms. So it was like we’re never going to get it off them. And we did we. We won tranche of it. Very quickly we won another tranche, another tranche and another trench.
I then got asked to present a Knowledge Management Conference in London about our successes with the tools and what we’d been doing. And when I came off the stage, I was so nervous. It was my first public speaking event and when I came off the stage, there was heads of knowledge management from lots of the large law firms here in Europe who were saying we’ve got that technology, but we’ve had it for five years and we’ve automated 40 documents. How have you done 400 in such a short space of time and will you come and work for us?
So I started to get phone calls saying, “Will you come work for us?” And there was enough of those job offers that I thought there’s a consultancy here. So I set up BamLegal then, and haven’t looked back since. It started off very much helping law firms to choose their software, roll it out, scale it up, look at the resource model, and then through that just other people, you’d meet other people in the legal tech ecosystem and people say, “Do you want to collaborate?” or are we building this product, “How do you think this could apply to that?” So, got to dabble with lots of different things and meet some really intelligent people doing some really cool stuff. It’s a lovely community, the legal tech community, because everyone’s trying to change the status quo. People are really open to sharing and working together, so I’ve got to work on so many different things.
I then got the opportunity to invest, so I now invest in some legal tech startups. I invested in Wavelength, which was one of the first legal engineering companies that got bought by Simmons and Simmons. A few years ago, my most recent investment is with something called Capacity app, which is using algorithms for work allocation within law firms to take away bias. So partners allocating work and a lot of the focus around that is making the lawyers progression more interesting. It’s something I’m interested in. It’s how do we stop so many junior females. I think it’s about 60% in the UK of lawyers entering the market are female, but when you get they all leave about four or five years. And when you look at it, it’s not actually about having babies that everyone thinks. Alot of it is about not getting the right kind of work. So that’s something that I’m really interested in Capacity app.
And yeah, just continuing to, there’s something new comes up every month or so, new projects and so I’m very much kind of don’t like to, the career path is I don’t know where it’s going next. I love what I’m doing. We’re working with some great clients, but always trying to do new things and get involved with new projects where we can.
Tom Mighell: That’s a good thing about technology. There’s always something different and I guess that sort of leads into our obligatory set of questions about artificial intelligence as we’re recording lots of crazy news going on about major artificial intelligence companies. And I’m going to be very careful here not to tread on Dennis’s question, because it is related. So we’re going to have two questions about this. So I’m really going to ask a more generalist question. AI, and more specifically, ChatGPT are the subject of so much hype these days. I called in the last couple of podcasts, like marketing gas really is there, there. It’s kind of drawing the oxygen out of the room for all the other legal technologies that we’re seeing. What do you see? What are the roles that you’re seeing that artificial intelligence is playing in legal technology? And then I know that Dennis is going to ask more specifically about document automation. This is more general to legal technology.
Catherine Bamford: Yeah, I think the law firms that are experimenting and the in-house legal departments that are experimenting have been looking at a few different areas and experimenting in a few different areas of where perhaps Gen AI could help. And I think the one that’s coming out as the kind of leading use case, if you like, is around extraction and summarizing. I think, especially litigation, that the extraction is very, very powerful. With transaction, we’ve had NLP, we’ve had extraction tools, but it’s got to have a lot of training, whereas this is really lightning speed, lightning quick, able to find stuff better than people can find it and so much faster. So I think extraction and summarizing is where we’ll see the most traction in the near future.
I think for those organizations that have spent time or are going to spend time and should spend time on their playbooks, whether it’s around contracts or litigation, how they do things, what they accept, what they don’t accept what their clients will accept what they don’t accept. I think AI can definitely help with quickly focusing on what’s different based on the playbook. So you feed the playbook in and that comes out. I don’t think it’s drafting from scratch. I don’t think that’s a good use case. I think why would you want your lawyers to prepare something differently every single time, when what you do is risk and mitigation and you want a consistent approach and to know what’s in it, and you don’t want to waste time having to check it every time.
And I don’t actually think there’s a lot of hype at the moment around chatbots and the surface. I don’t know why, but I just don’t see that that’s the longevity of it. I don’t see that what lawyers are going to do, we’re going to be chatting in that way to something. I think it’s more the intelligence search will come in a different way.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, that’s really interesting, because I was going to reflect back on something you said about document automation, and I think people underestimate the value of the consistency that you get out of a document automation. And that you have this document that you don’t really have to proofread, you know what’s going to be there, you can rely on it, and then you have room to be more creative. And I was talking with one of our former fresh voices guests and a colleague of mine now, Amani Smathers. And when they were working with AI in documents, it was the fact that it just would make small changes all the time, really started to pose a difficulty.
So I’ve been talking with some of the early pioneers in document automation, like Mark Lorentzen, about the interplay between generative AI and document automation, and where their strengths and weaknesses are. And especially what’s interesting me is the potential for generative AI to be used as a helper or assistant when you’re actually creating the document automation applications. And this may go to what you were referring to as extraction, but sort of helping at that sort of difficult stage of saying, like what are the nuances, how do I put these things together, those sorts of things. So I’m curious what your current thinking on that is and what you are seeing or doing in that space.
Catherine Bamford: Yeah, so I think what we spoke about earlier of why document automation hasn’t become widespread is actually the hard yards at the beginning. So I don’t think it’s going to replace document automation in terms of it’s going to be drafting documents for the reason we’ve spoken about, about consistency. But working out the questions to be asked and the logic to be applied to automate the document in the first place, I think it’s very possible to apply Gen AI to say, what are the questions to fill in the square brackets. So you do need to have a good base precedent in the first place, or several, and then you can do it to kind of get the subject matter experts a good starter for some started for 10, started for 80, started for 90.
I think there’s going to be some interesting things coming along if we could persuade people to open source a bit more of their dictionaries. And what I mean by dictionaries is every time I automate a banking loan agreement, and I’ve done it for 20 different firms, they will have slightly different precedents, but the questions to be asked, the instructions that the bank are giving them, the details of the loan, are all the same. So with what Sally have done with the kind of naming conventions and the wording conventions around clauses and contracts, if we could get more into the granular level of the questions to be asked in the data and start to share that, what we could then do with Gen AI to say create the logic to be applied or create the questionnaire, is really exciting.
Another bottleneck is then testing. So once you’ve automated a document because of the so many nuances and there’s so many possible paths that can be taken, I think creating test data to test complex questionnaires is another good use case as well.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, those are brilliant. I mean, I just got my mind going just thinking about that. That’s sort of what I like about Gen AI, is you start to think like, well, what are these complex things that we do? And then you’re like, “Oh, wait. What if it just drafts the questions?” I mean, that would be so awesome because that takes more work and you say I just look at what it generates and then I edit it a little bit.
Catherine Bamford: Exactly.
Tom Mighell: We need to take another quick break for a word from our sponsors, and then we’re going to be right back with Catherine Bamford from BamLegal.
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Dennis Kennedy: And now let’s get back to the Kennedy-Mighell Report. I’m Dennis Kennedy.
Tom Mighell: And I’m Tom Mighell. And we are joined by our special guest, Catherine Bamford. We’ve got time for just a few more questions and one of them is what we like to call our best advice questions. So we like to ask our guests, what’s the best advice either that you’ve ever gotten from someone from a mentor others or something that you’ve ever given or maybe both if you want to share them.
Catherine Bamford: I think it’s both. I had a mentor of mine say to me once “Don’t be scared when you meet that resistance. That’s a natural reaction to any kind of change.” And often when I was a junior in trying to do stuff, I was like, oh, that person really questioned me and really drilled me hard and hates the idea and thinks I’m going to replace his entire department with robots and they really dislike me. And he was like, if you’re not causing ripples and you’re not meeting that resistance, you’re not suggesting anything radical or anything new, so don’t be scared of that pushback. And I think just bringing that on as kind of advice for people kind of starting to try and implement legal technology. It is just knowing that if you look at, you know, we have like the grief cycle, well, there is like the kind of change cycle as well. And if you focus on that and you just realize it’s a natural reaction, and quite often those naysayers will end up saying that it was their idea in the first place and they were always on board. So don’t be pushed off with the first wall of resistance you get.
Tom Mighell: That’s why change management is so important, is being able to show them how the change is going to improve. Yep, totally agree.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, that’s so interesting. I had this conversation with the professor yesterday and it started out with this despair over what AI was going to take over and what we might be teaching our students. And it ended up with saying like, oh, hey, there’s like tons of cool possibilities that he was seeing that were actually his own ideas, like once when she kind of jumped over the despair cycle. So I have two questions that are related. And so, since I’m in the academic world these days, how would you encourage today’s law students and the new lawyers to find career paths in legal tech or nontraditional careers in law like you ultimately found? And then, last of all, who are the fresh voices in legal tech that you would like to single out and maybe see as part of our fresh voices series?
Catherine Bamford: For today’s law students, I think, especially while you’re still at law school, get involved with your university’s legal tech society. And if one doesn’t exist, set it up. Because by setting one up, as I said, this community is so open to sharing and helping and collaborating that you can actually probably reach out to some of the experts in potential areas and say, “Will you be a guest to speak to our students?” And most of them will say yes. So you get to meet all these people. You can then connect with them on LinkedIn and already been creating your legal tech ecosystem for when you want to go into your career, to then apply to some of their companies for internships and just learn from them as you go. I think social media, you know, I work for global clients now, and that’s all because of the web and things like LinkedIn and being invited onto a podcast like yours today. Its prior to having those outlets, I would have been a very small market, probably in London, maybe a bit in Manchester, here in England. So I think definitely use social media. There’s other good newsletters out there that you can follow.
So coming on to the second point, the fresh voices in legal tech. I’m very lucky to work very closely with a guy called Peter Duffy. He puts out legal tech trends newsletter and he scans. He’s actually built something that scrapes the internet for legal tech. I have stories out there and distills them and tags them and then he’s taking the best of those and gives like a nice six-minute read weekly or fortnightly. He talks to a lot of people in the industry, and I find that newsletter really accessible. And I kind of feel like if I read that on a Monday morning and then I have a load of conversations with people that week, they think I’m really smart, but they think I’m really smart just because I read that newsletter. He comes from an interesting background and that he didn’t come from law originally, so he worked in digital transformation previously, so building kind of digital applications for other industries that were transforming.
So for example, like sports gambling, when it went from, you went into what we call a bookies here in London, I don’t know if you call it bookies, but a gambling betting shop to online apps, banking apps, pharmaceuticals, lots of different industries, building apps for those. So applying those proper product development methodologies and thoughts and applying those to legal technology.
And the other voice that I really think is so refreshing at the moment with all of the hype around, is Uwais Iqbal, and he’s an AI practitioner. He’s got an amazing track record, doing the legal space for me about the last kind of five to six years. And he recently launched a company called Simplexico, and that’s all around AI education. So it’s helping, you know, he’s kind of going into law firms and speaking to a bunch of partners. But the way he manages to break down what is a complicated subject and hard to get your head around. and the analogies, he uses stories and analogies to explain different types of AI. And when I listened to the other day that was wonderful was about kind of daydreaming and how we can only daydream because we have memories. So we can daydream about a Centaur because we know what a man looks like and a horse looks like. And that was the way he was explaining Gen AI and one of the analogies. So, yeah, Uwais iqbal, I think, is another fresh voice that’s really helping the entire industry by cutting the hype and explaining things in a very clear way.
Tom Mighell: Those are awesome suggestions. We want to thank Catherine Bamford for being a guest on our show. Catherine, thank you so much and tell us where can people either learn more about you or get in touch with you if they want to.
Catherine Bamford: I think LinkedIn is probably the easiest place. I have a website, like everyone needs to have a website, but LinkedIn and also for the students, actually Instagram at BamLegal as well. I do some little sound bites and legal tech live talks on Instagram.
Dennis Kennedy: Well, thank you so much, Catherine. You’re a fantastic guest, as I knew you would be, great information and advice for our listeners. Now it’s time for our parting shots. That one tip, website or observation you can use the second this podcast ends. Catherine, take it away.
Catherine Bamford: The tip is for the legal practitioners is to focus on your playbooks and start getting stuff out of your head and document it because you’re only going to be able to do cool stuff with Gen AI and other legal tech if you actually have your knowledge management content ready.
Tom Mighell: So important. I’m going to continue on my Google tips where I am hoping and praying that Google is actually going to get better again. Never mind what it’s doing from a privacy standpoint, but from a search standpoint, they’re introducing a couple of new features that are very interesting. One of the ones that they are doing in their Google search labs now is just simply called notes, as if there were notes called everywhere else. So I’m not sure how you can distinguish this, but what a note is in Google search lab is it allows people, I don’t know if it’s going to allow everybody, it sounds like it’s like experts and certain people to add notes to search results. So if you ask a question of what’s the best sleeping bag for camping, you can get to a page and it says, here are the best sleeping bags, and there will be like maybe ten notes from other users that you can view, either a tip or I found this article not helpful, here’s another place to go, or here’s the best. I tried all of these sleeping bags and here was the best one for me. It’s going to be a way for people to add additional information. It’s interesting to me. It could be either a great idea or a terrible disaster waiting to happen. But I am intrigued that Google is making new steps to try to make its search relevant and fresh again and let’s see if this works. Dennis.
Dennis Kennedy: That has some potential or to go the wrong way.
Tom Mighell: The whole wrong way, yes.
Dennis Kennedy: So I have this really simple thing. So I was doing some stuff where I had a whole bunch of ideas and I created it, I put them into word and I used the table of contents, just created simple table of contents using headings. And what I used it for was to help sequence and clean up the documents and the list. And I just found it to be like a really helpful thing and I could see what belonged together. I could understand the sequence of things and I could change things and move things around. And then also by doing the table of contents, it shrank the size of what I was doing to something that was very usable to put into a prompt box in ChatGBT. And then I could actually use ChatGBT to also help me sequence and clean up the list. And so it’s an experiment, but I throw it out there’s a tip of using some standard tools in a little bit different way that might turn out to be helpful to you.
Tom Mighell: And so that wraps it up for this edition of the Kennedy-Mighell Report. Thank you for joining us on the podcast.
You can find show notes for this episode on the Legal Talk Network’s page for our show. You can find all of our previous podcasts, along with transcripts on the Legal Talk Network site. If you’d like to subscribe to our podcast, you can also do that on the Legal Talk Network site, within iTunes or in your favorite podcast app. If you’d like to get in touch with us, you can always reach out to us on LinkedIn or remember, we always love to get your questions for our B segment. You can leave us a voicemail with your questions, comments or otherwise at 720-441-6820. So until the next podcast, I’m Tom Mighell.
Dennis Kennedy: And I’m Dennis Kennedy. And you’ve been listening to the Kennedy-Mighell Report, a podcast on legal technology with an internet focus. As always, a big thank you to the Legal Talk Network team for producing and distributing this podcast, and we’ll see you next time for another episode of the Kennedy-Mighell Report on the Legal Talk Network.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Kennedy-Mighell Report. Check out Dennis and Tom’s book, ‘The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration, Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together’ from ABA Books or Amazon. And join us every other week for another edition of the Kennedy-Mighell Report only on the Legal Talk Network.