Graham Smith-Bernal started his career as a court reporter in the UK, and founded Smith Bernal International, where he...
Bob Ambrogi is the only person to have held top editorial positions at both National Law Journal and Lawyers Weekly...
In this episode of Law Technology Now, host Bob Ambrogi talks with Opus 2 International, Inc. CEO Graham Smith-Bernal about his career and the evolution of the electronic courtroom. Graham recalls his early interest in becoming a court stenographer and how at the age of 23 he had the opportunity to establish his company Smith Bernal International. At that time he noticed that the legal industry was driven heavily by precedent and tradition and that he could use technology to establish his company as a service differentiator. Graham was also aware that a lot of lawyers are technophobic, so any software he developed had to be easy to use and with the advent of real time transcription he came up with the idea for LiveNote. He shares that there was a lot of pushback and reticence in the early days, but by exercising the ease of use, increase in efficiency, and leveraging end user feature requests the product became mature as a piece of tech. Graham states that success in any business is about timing and your process and the increase in processing speeds and maturity of the stenography systems availability at the time put his company slightly ahead of the technological curve. He discusses the success of LiveNote and explains how he developed the Opus 2 magnum platform. He closes the interview with an analysis of electronic courtroom evolution and the trends he is currently seeing in tech assisted litigation.
Graham Smith-Bernal started his career as a court reporter in the UK, and founded Smith Bernal International, where he created the LiveNote software. Smith Bernal International went on to become the world’s largest international court reporting company and LiveNote became the most widely used litigation support software prior to Smith-Bernal selling LiveNote to Thomson Reuters in 2006. He then founded Opus 2, where he is currently CEO, to continue his work in this area.
Law Technology Now _ The Evolution of the Digital Courtroom
Intro: You are listening to the Legal Talk Network.
Monica Bay: Hello, I am Monica Bay.
Bob Ambrogi: And I am Bob Ambrogi.
Monica Bay: We have been writing about law and technology for more than 30 years.
Bob Ambrogi: That’s right. During that time we witnessed many changes and innovations.
Monica Bay: Technology is improving the practice of law, helping lawyers deliver their services faster and cheaper.
Bob Ambrogi: Which benefits not only lawyers and their clients, but everyone.
Monica Bay: And moves us closer to the goal of access to justice for all.
Bob Ambrogi: Tune in every month as we explore new legal technology, the people behind the tech.
Monica Bay: Here, on Law Technology Now.
Bob Ambrogi: Welcome to Law Technology Now on the Legal Talk Network. This is Bob Ambrogi and today we are speaking with Graham Smith-Bernal, the Founder of Opus 2 International. When he was still in his early 20s, Graham founded the UK’s largest court reporting agency which he later sold for over 15 million pounds. He then invented LiveNote, which was the world’s first court reporting and evidence management software. In 2007, he sold LiveNote to Thomson Reuters for over $75 million, following a brief retirement to his estate in Umbria, Italy Smith-Bernal returned to the market in 2008 to found the company he currently runs, Opus 2 International.
Graham, welcome to Law Technology Now.
Graham Smith-Bernal: Thanks Bob.
Bob Ambrogi: Graham, I wanted to start by just talking a little bit about your background and how you got started. I had read that you actually left school at the age of 16 and became a court reporter, tell us about that.
Graham Smith-Bernal: Yeah. Well, I think conventional education now when I look back on it, it wasn’t really my thing. I was a bit of a rebel I suppose. I have got some strong views about education now with hindsight but we won’t go into those. I was going to join my father’s company. He ran a pretty successful marketing promotion handling business and then I suddenly discovered this court reporting course.
It was the first course in England that was set up where the stenograph machine was being taught and I had a go at becoming a stenographer and I was pretty good at it. And then I qualified and at the age of 23, I suddenly had an opportunity to set my own company up, a combination of circumstances led to that.
I took the plunge and set up Smith Bernal International and always had an interest in technology, always had an open mind to the fact that these industries such as court reporting, the legal industry itself were very traditional precedent driven industries that were driven more by how things were done in the past rather than how things might be done in the future.
I had an interest in technology. It’s not an invoking technology that increased the efficiency of producing transcripts, computer aided transcription technology. I brought in a product called Discovery ZX back in the late 80s, early 90s which allowed you to have transcripts on disk and then you could search et cetera.
And then with the advent of real-time transcription, when it became possible for stenographic code to instantly be translated into English text, I came up with the idea of LiveNote which would allow you to access a transcript as the evidence was happening and interact with the evidence and making notes, marking it up, et cetera.
So LiveNote was very much actually something that I brought into existence in the later half of my ownership at Smith Bernal and we used — one of the things I learned very early on was how to use technology, not only as a way of improving efficiency and saving time, saving lawyer’s valuable time and money, but also understanding how to use technology as a differentiator, as a differentiator between myself and the competition.
So LiveNote was something we created and brought to market initially in the UK as a service differentiator. In other words give me your court reporting business and I am going to give you a live transcript and here is how it works.
Bob Ambrogi: Did people understand the value of that at the time you started providing that, I mean were lawyers jumping all over that or were they saying, why do I need this?
Graham Smith-Bernal: Well in the early days we weren’t meeting the demand. It wasn’t as if we were trading something and saying — and people were saying, look we want to have live transcripts. I basically took a punt that if it is possible to do this. Then eventually the market would say, well, this makes so much sense.
The key to it all was it had to be easy. Lawyers don’t like using technology, a lot of them are techno phobic, particularly in the UK and I recognized the only way we would get a 70-year-old judge with a wig on his head to use a computer hands on was to make it easy so it had to be simple.
We developed from day one in the Windows interface. That meant something to me because in 1990/1991, it was the world’s first, there was no Window’s technology in those days and I had people around me saying, Windows is never actually going to happen, that’s only going to be toy, fortunately I didn’t listen to them and because it made sense, I needed to get these judges and lawyers to use the computer hands-on and Windows made so much sense because of the simplicity.
So we had a lot of push back, in the nearly days a lot of reticence, but once we were able to show how easy it was to achieve a significant benefit with a very insignificant learning curve, suddenly these judges and lawyers said, I need this and plus they then said this is great, but what if you could do this that and the other. So we effectively designed the product from day one on the back of its practical usage leveraging the input of the end-user in terms of what it should do next.
Within three years, LiveNote had become a virtual standard on major litigation in the UK. We won various awards in the legal space and that really resulted in the product becoming, not only mature as product, as a piece of technology but mature in terms of the usage in the marketplace.
So effectively it was a classic example of cross-pollination, if you like. The technology resulted in my service business becoming the leading service provider in the sector within 5/6 years and it flipped the other way, suddenly the fact that I was covering all these major hearings and trials resulted in the technology becoming an industry standard.
Bob Ambrogi: And so you at some point flipped from your focus on the service business to the focus on the technology?
Graham Smith-Bernal: Exactly! And that’s really when we came to the states, 1995 was the first time I came, the product was a fairly mature product to that point. The market in America was still sort of getting its feet wet if you like, with Windows technology, there was still a lot of legacy technology out there from the old world and we effectively replicated the proven strategy of getting service providers.
We weren’t trying to set up a service business ourselves in the UK beginning all the leading court reporting firms initially to provide LiveNote as a differentiator to their court reporting service, the ability for lawyers then on depositions very much centric to the deposition environment rather than trials but lawyers could then have access to the live testimony as it was happening, interact with their co-counsel who might even be sitting remotely, that sort of thing.
And then again, once lawyers started using it, the law firms themselves became interested in using the technology beyond just as a real-time transcript tool and within two to three years we had had probably 80%-90% of the top 200 law firms invoking LiveNote as an enterprise solution for managing all transcripts, all the key exhibits in the case and even video.
Bob Ambrogi: We are going to talk more about the state of digital technology in the courtroom now, but I am trying to think back to 1995 and that was pretty early time still in the evolution of that kind of technology. What was kind of the state of stenographic technology as of the time that you came over here in 1995?
Graham Smith-Bernal: Well, the actual stenographic technology, the CAT what’s called the Computer-Aided Transcription technology that translates stenographic code into English had all been developed in the States. All we did was create a tool that resided on a lawyer or judge’s terminal and received irrespective of which Computer-Aided Transcription system was being used allowed them to work in an open environment dependent irrespective to of what the system was.
So the technology was pretty mature. I think a lot of things were happening in parallel. There was a processing speed on computers was becoming faster so the translation time from the stenographic code to the text appearing on your screen got quicker, less delays more robustness in terms of storage, stuff like that.
So, success in any business is about timing as much as anything else, as well as the process which you bring it to bear and the timing was right about mid 90s. I think the market started to open its mind to the graphical user interface, Windows technology, so we were probably slightly ahead of the curve but very quickly we found ourselves in the right place.
Bob Ambrogi: I would think it was also driven at that point by just a growth in kind of litigation teams essentially. It seems that, certainly during my career, the way law firms handled litigation has changed significantly only in the day I have gone from a couple of lawyers at the table to huge teams, some of them at the table, some of them back in their home office, some of them up and sitting in a corporate counsel’s office all following closely what’s going on and I am sure that helped drive the evolution and the acceptance of your technology.
Graham Smith-Bernal: Well, it did and we did increasingly and certainly from the year 2000 onwards, more and more frequently we would actually see LiveNote hearings deposition trials taking place with not only attendees at the hearing, but increasingly remote attendees as well.
I think that also brings one on to where we are now, the future technologies, the cloud and the ability to access and collaborate and share is so much, it’s exponentially easier and greater, the power is in this modern world that we are now in and that’s really where our new technology is.
Bob Ambrogi: Where you are now. So in 2007 you sold LiveNote to, I said Thomson Reuters but was it Thomson Reuters then or was it still Thomson at that point?
Graham Smith-Bernal: Well, it is strange on that, it was Thomson and two months later they brought Reuters after they bought our company, so it was Thomson Reuters.
Bob Ambrogi: So right at that point and retired to your estate in Umbria, Italy and what in the world drew you out of Umbria, Italy to start another company?
Graham Smith-Bernal: Well I was getting fat after all the pasta –
Bob Ambrogi: Sounds good.
Graham Smith-Bernal: The Vino was good as well and I had a good time. I think the great thing was I was actually involved even during my retirement in another Cloud-based technology product called iSite which was a web research management tool that took off quite significantly in the academic space. The problem with the academic space is two things. One is students have no product loyalty. If they see something better and cheaper coming along, they will move to it and secondly, they have no money.
Bob Ambrogi: So that was a big part.
Graham Smith-Bernal: So effectively that experience taught me a little bit about the potential of the Cloud and some of the issues as well. The issues then that were facing the legal community were paranoid about security, about accessibility, et cetera. So those were definitely issues that needed to be addressed when moving into a Cloud world but I think what moved me was the ideas that I got from that experience of being built in iSite.
And secondly, I was 48 when I sold LiveNote and at this point when I started having these ideas about the next generation of technology, I just turned 50 and I just thought, this is great fun living here in Italy, but I can still be doing that, I’m building a new business and so that’s when I set up Opus 2 and effectively we started developing the world’s first collaborative Cloud platform for managing litigation content which was our Magnum platform, but the secret sauce, if you like, was we replicated that proven strategy from LiveNote of bringing that technology to bear as a service differentiator for my effectively what was a new court reporting business, the Opus 2 international reporting business.
We started developing this platform. We had built a development team in Scotland and Edinburgh. Two guys headed that who were some of the brightest minds in computer science in the UK and we first exposed our Magnum technology perhaps just 5/6 months after we started developing the code to the parties involved in the Abramovich Berezovsky trial, which is the world’s biggest private litigation back in I think it was 2011 and very early on the judge saw this technology. This is a case involving two main parties, three third parties, something like 40,000/50,000 key documents in the case that had been sorted and called from the original document sets.
And we were talking 250 lever arch files of documents times 5 or6 sets in the courtroom, so effectively there wouldn’t have been a courtroom big enough to hold that type of documentary, that volume. And the judge saw this, this technology and how easy was it to use and she basically said to the parties, we need to use this. So that case effectively became not a totally paperless trial but we saved something like 5 million pieces of paper on that hearing back in 2011.
Bob Ambrogi: So Opus 2 is both like your prior company, the service company and a product company, a technology company I guess and Magnum is the platform, that’s what you call the platform. So break it down for me, say it’s a collaboration platform, what exactly does it do?
Graham Smith-Bernal: Okay. So first and foremost it’s a product just like LiveNote that is specifically designed and developed for use by lawyers. It actually replicates what lawyers do when they’re actually working with key documents in the case. The litigation process whether in the UK or the US can be divided for me into two sections. What goes on and what I call the engine room of the ship, which is the sorting, the processing, the culling of the documents and then the point at which the lawyers get involved and some of that is happening early on as well, but lawyers don’t work with tools like relativity and these document review products.
Bob Ambrogi: They especially use discovery.
Graham Smith-Bernal: That’s the ediscovery document
Bob Ambrogi: And disclosure what you would call them.
Graham Smith-Bernal: Yeah e-disclosure, yeah, and this is very much what we’ve created is, is something that it takes it from the point where you found all the key documents.
Normally in America, you are now preparing for deposition, you are taking depositions, we come in at that point normally everything is being reduced to paper at that point and people are sending e-mails out with links saying to their clients, what do you think of this, whatever.
So effectively what it is, is one seamless secured platform for taking all litigation content; the transcripts, the exhibits in America, the video plus all of the work product that is created by the lawyers.
So as I say, effectively what it does, it replicates what lawyers do, they want to mark, read documents, they want to access them and they want to be able to mark the documents up and make notes and the default is the annotation is personal to them, but they can easily share with anyone else securely in that team irrespective of where they are in the world. And it takes it right through the trial in that one interface.
Bob Ambrogi: Do I have to be a court reporting customer of Opus 2 to be using the Magnum platform?
Graham Smith-Bernal: No, outside of America, Magnum is provided as a service from Opus 2 International. So we have again incubated, nurtured, developed the technology as part of a service which has resulted in the product developing its level of maturity that it has and its nuanced features and functionality such as granular hyperlinking and stuff like that.
But in America, it’s available in two ways; one is law firms, we have offices in San Francisco and New York, law firms are invoking it on a SaaS basis case-by-case where irrespective of who they’ve been using for court reporting for the depositions they basically use this as the centralized collaborative repository.
And then what has happened is law firms have seen not only the comprehensive functionality, the features, the simplicity, the accessibility, the power of the technology, they’re now moving towards an enterprise invoking it on an enterprise basis across the firm. So they will pay an annual license fee to have that product as their product of choice for managing all litigation content.
And effectively it replaces products like LiveNote, West Case Notebook, CaseMap, we have chronology tool inside there, it’s effectively one seamless interface for everything beyond what you do in the relativity world.
Bob Ambrogi: Does it go up through and including the presentation of evidence at trial?
Graham Smith-Bernal: We have that component as well. It’s more designed for use because just about everything goes at trial. We don’t have a deposition process in England, so it’s more suited to the trial process there, but we have it being used here in the US trial filed, as cases go to trial as you know here in the US, it tends to be resolved after the deposition.
Bob Ambrogi: So in a case like the Abramovich where you said the judge basically said to the different parties in the case that I want you to use this, is there cross-communication through the platform among the different sides of a case, can they have their isolated silos of information, but also be able to share and collaborate across the opposing parties?
Graham Smith-Bernal: Yeah. The way it’s setup is, I mean we position our business to be a neutral service provider. So effectively, parties in the UK may be using one eDiscovery service provider once out of the case and somebody else on the other. Effectively, we are the chessboard at which point the parties will bring all the key documents into our world and we act neutrally, because we are also going to working with the judge so it’s important we retain that neutrality.
The documents what is called the trial bundle in the UK that’s agreed between the parties is uploaded into our system, into the Magnum system and each side then has what is called its own private mirror. There is no ability or potential for contamination between one side’s work product to cross all the key documents and side B or side C, and of course the judge or the arbitrators in the matter.
So it works in quite a unique way that there is one set of documents that on a daily basis is being added to and then it spoons out if you like into the private mirror so each side then gets a copy of that on which they can annotate, make notes, tag and hyperlink documents and collaborate. That’s basically how it works?
Bob Ambrogi: Does the court access the platform as well–
Graham Smith-Bernal: Yes, by the court we mean the judge –
Bob Ambrogi: Yeah the judge, the judge’s clerk however it might be –
Graham Smith-Bernal: Yeah, in England certainly there is no real need for the clerk to access it, but they could do. But effectively the judge himself will have one workspace mirror of the core set of documents. And of course in an arbitration world, you have three arbitrators. One of the great components of this technology is the arbitrators now have irrespective of where they maybe in between hearings, one in Singapore, one in Canada, one in England, or whatever, they can continuously collaborate and share their thoughts across the documents as they are being — or submissions or evidence or whatever it might be.
Bob Ambrogi: So you’ve written a lot about the evolution, what you talk about is the electronic courtroom and you often, I think, in your own writing and on your company’s website from what I have seen is if you look at that Abramovich trial was kind of a turning point in the UK in terms of what you see is the evolution of the electronic courtroom. What’s happened in the UK since that trial, and how was this technology evolving?
Graham Smith-Bernal: Well, it’s now being used probably on about 90% of all major hearings in the UK, arbitrations, so it’s almost used universally now in the mega trials.
Bob Ambrogi: It’s ubiquitous.
Graham Smith-Bernal: It is, yeah, and it’s because of that when it comes to arbitration it’s spawning beyond the UK shores because arbitration is something that moves all over the place. I think in terms of the — what the technology is now doing, I will give you a few examples, in just three to four years of some of the features and the benefits of the technology.
So in a normal set up you will have two sides to hearing. We provide not any court reporters but the trial presentation officer, so effectively a lawyer will pull out a document Bundle 5, Page 300, instantly the documents come up on the big screens.
Bob Ambrogi: Is somebody sitting in the hearing or in the –?
Graham Smith-Bernal: Actually in the hearing, yeah. And that person is also responsible for supporting users and making sure that they don’t have issues.
A lot of cases were involved with — involve interpreters. We provide simultaneous real-time interpreting services with the booths and stuff, so that’s all happening as well. All of this technology is designed to speed up and increase efficiency of the trial.
Meanwhile, the lawyers as individual users, they could look at the large monitor to see the document that’s being referred to, but they also have either their own Notebook or PC or even a tablet device.
Most of the law firms involved have been preparing the case in Magnum, some months before making notes of key documents, sharing notes with other people in their teams, their clients whoever, and instantly without the lawyer touching the computer as a document is being pulled up on the large screen their personal version of the document comes up on their computer with their notes, without them having to do anything. It’s all there for them.
So they can then continue to look at the plain-vanilla document or actually look at it with their notes, or the notes that are being shared with them, including hyperlinked documents. That’s the next thing.
Bob Ambrogi: That’s really powerful. I am from the era of shuffling the files on paper.
Graham Smith-Bernal: Yeah. So, I think, it’s about bringing what people have done before the trial and preparation and cementing that to actually what goes on in the trial process. In addition, you have the live transcript coming up perhaps on an extended monitor. As the document is being referred to in the hearing, so Page 350, in the Bundle 4, instantly that document is hyperlinked into the transcript.
So that means, at any point you can just scroll back to that point or search on that point and just click, and you will actually see this is what the witness is saying about this document, and here is my notes on that document, so, all that’s very cool. I think we talked earlier about the remote access and collaboration from the clients who are sitting in different parts of the world, co-counsel. Yeah, that is something again that’s – it’s so much easier to do in the cloud world.
So we actually have hearings now where people, even back to the Abramovich Trial we had people sitting in Moscow and New York, who would be supporting the law firm at the hearing, co-counsel, whoever it might be, or the client and they would be accessing the live transcript that comes up instantly. They have no need to have any software loaded on their end at all. They have no documents loaded on their end, but they literally have the transcript with a link to the document as it’s referred to.
So they are getting access —
Bob Ambrogi: Just through a browser-based —
Graham Smith-Bernal: Just through a browser, yeah. So they are getting access to transcript and the key documents without having anything having locally, and they can chat and collaborate with their counsel or support team in the hearing.
Bob Ambrogi: Is this all browser-based or the parties using this in the courtroom do they have the special software on their computer?
Graham Smith-Bernal: It’s full browser-based. We have a local server in the courtroom just in case there is an issue with access to the Internet; we have that as a backup that talks seamlessly to the Cloud, the version.
So the people in the hearing will actually have something running from a server in the courtroom. In the evening when the transcripts and the exhibits are uploaded to the Cloud version, and they talk seamlessly to each other, so that the users can access their work product and the documents and transcripts et cetera, that day’s proceedings from anywhere.
So it’s a hybrid in some ways, but we use that just in case there is an outage in the courtroom.
Bob Ambrogi: Again, you talked about the evolution of this into Asia-Pacific region and in the United States, are the applications in Asia-Pac different than what you have described in terms of what’s going on in the UK? Is it more arbitration based or is it — what’s happening?
Graham Smith-Bernal: Well, Singapore is rapidly becoming the hub of cross-border litigation and dispute in the Asia-Pacific region. I think logistically it’s so well placed.
You’ve got a political system there that’s not potentially going to be slightly biased against you or whatever.
I think that’s one of the issues people have with Hong Kong and the Chinese taking over et cetera and of course, you have a government that is very dynamically supporting the private sector, supporting innovation and it does tend to be there is a very sophisticated arbitration facility there in Singapore. It does tend to be arbitration, although we are seeing take up in court hearings as well of the technology.
It’s a very similar process to what happens in the UK again, they don’t have a deposition process like you have here. The first chance each side gets to test the other side’s key witnesses is actually went on the stand. So it’s a little bit behind what’s happening in the UK but it’s rapidly catching up in terms of invoking technology.
Robert Ambrogi: I have to guess that when we turn to the US, we are a few steps further behind.
Graham Smith-Bernal: Well, I think the court system, the trials is a little bit behind here for two reasons, one is a lot actually happens way before the trial process as we already said. 95% of cases settle before they get to the courtroom after the deposition process.
I think the other thing is the courtroom environment here in state and federal court is a fairly bureaucratic environment. Most courts providing reporting services et cetera, they are government employees and that’s not an environment which lends itself to bringing new technology to bear. So that’s another reason it’s slower.
Our focus here is very much on the deposition process in the US and positioning our technology to become the dominant player in that space. My view is that the deposition process is something that places like Singapore and Britain would benefit from, there is so much wastage by the fact that you don’t actually get to see the testimony of the other side’s witnesses until you actually get to trial.
I think the deposition process is something we should see on our shore so in that sense I think America is ahead.
Robert Ambrogi: And it works to say way in a deposition in the sense that you are getting a lot of transcripts, you are seeing your notes as opposed to documents that are being discussed and I mean pretty much the same scenario you described for —
Graham Smith-Bernal: It’s very similar, yes and remote access, I think there is one very significant breakthrough with this technology in the Cloud for the very first time video, that’s why every deposition that’s taken has a videographer present and for the first time that video is not only manageable because it’s now managed on some very cheap remote secure space but it’s accessible.
In the old days, you’d have law firms storing 500-600 days of deposition testimony synced to the video on their servers but once a lawyer goes away from his office, he can’t access that. So we actually have cases now where we have hundreds of days of transcripts, hyperlinked exhibits, and synchronized video all hosted in this secure Cloud environment with teams of lawyers able to access a full multimedia record from any computer device, anywhere in the world securely and then collaborate across all of that.
So effectively when you’re searching a transcript, you’re reading it, you’re marking it up, you’re actually creating a video clip that you can then share right from the annotation with anyone else in your team, anywhere in the world. So that’s a real breakthrough the video side of things.
Robert Ambrogi: What’s the value proposition here, I mean how does the cost of using your service compared to the cost of traditional transcription court reporting services, I am assuming it’s going to be something more than the standard, what the traditional cost would be and if so, what justifies that extra cost?
Graham Smith-Bernal: And again, we are talking about two different models here what goes on in the UK outside of the shores of America where this technology is invoked and then in the states. I think the first thing I would to say is it’s scalable totally scalable.
Robert Ambrogi: So was that a storage based charge or –
Graham Smith-Bernal: In the US, it’s very much we charge – we don’t actually charge storage, we actually charge fee for uploading and supporting the lawyers in the uploading process and then we charge so much a month per user, which comes down to about 100 bucks per user per month. And then again it is a large matter than there are price reductions, it can down about 50 bucks per user per month.
So effectively what lawyers are doing is they are saying well, there is some additional cost here, right but look at the savings that we are getting. In terms of we are getting the ability to access documents, the time saved and not having to print lots of copies out to manage that and I think overall it’s the increased efficiency, lawyering efficiency, the fact that people can now access the client can not participate more so in the whole process then ever before.
I think those are the real – and some of that’s intangible in terms of what price do you put on that but – and ultimately the technology is now being used so much is the market saying look the benefits do significantly exceed the increasing cost and of course there are massive cost savings, a lot of them are indirect so that’s effectively where we are at.
Robert Ambrogi: Yeah, is your typical user – for most of the time I have been listening to you today kind of picturing a litigator who is going to use this service and I am thinking bigger firm, bigger case you just mentioned smaller firms, smaller cases, so where is your sort of sweet spot in terms of the target user?
Graham Smith-Bernal: I think it’s very easy to illustrate the savings, unequivocal savings and efficiencies on the big cases. There is no question. That’s a game over event sort of thing.
Robert Ambrogi: So just the efficiency just translates to savings that kind of –
Graham Smith-Bernal: Yes and cost savings, in fact, you’ve just got one central set of documents stored and all of the web product that goes with it and all the exhibits and the video et cetera, it makes a lot of sense and then you just pay per usage, of course you can pass the cost on per matter to the client and the client is happy as well. So that’s kick out.
I think we are seeing, certainly in the UK and may be here in the states, I am not so familiar but more often than not we are now getting smaller law firms involved in mega-litigation, that’s something that’s happening all the time. They don’t have the in-house resources of support teams et cetera, teams of paralegal.
So the fact that they really are embracing this technology with open arms because it actually means it’s possible for them to now to compete on that stage. So I think on smaller mid-sized cases law firms increasingly who are using this on the big case, they become familiar with how it works, they become slick if you like, I use the analogy of the old world of lawyering is a bit like going around in horse and cart and now we have a motorcar and the early versions or the motorcar were not easy to drive and if you crashed it you might have killed yourself.
But it’s really now quite automated, it’s very easy to get from A to B in a much faster time than you ever did before. So once lawyers actually mastered the driving of the car very quickly that becomes the norm and they leave the horse and cart behind so.
Robert Ambrogi: Well on that note we are – that’s a good spot I think, we are just about out of time for the show but actually before we conclude, I did want to just kind of throw it open to you, if there was anything else in terms of trends you’re seeing in the evolution of your electronic courtroom or litigation technology in general primarily here in United States that you wanted to just allude to?
Graham Smith-Bernal: I think one of the things we’re working more and more with a lot of the cases and the big international arbitrations we’re involved in involve multiple languages, you’ve got either a matter that’s coming out of South America, the native tongue is Spanish, you got Spanish lawyers involved. We actually had several cases where we’re doing sort of simultaneous translation and one of the things we’re actually working on now is the ability to have cross-language collaboration not just in terms of basically across the documents in a case.
So the idea as I say we have a number of cases where we’ll have the trial set of documents where one document is the Spanish original document and the next document, the next to it is the translation of that document in English. The English lawyers are working on the English client, they are working on the English translation meanwhile the Spanish lawyers or the witness are working on the Spanish and what we are looking at is a situation where it’s possible for an annotation that’s been made by a lawyer on a document in English then appears on that document translated in Spanish.
So effectively you’re eliminating the need for Spanish people – it’s particularly useful on complex matters, pharmaceutical matters or industrial litigation where the subject matter is complex and the Spanish witness or the client wants to understand in Spanish and not to have read English to understand what’s going on.
So we’re working on that and I think we just kind of get more the same, we are going to get as we get more people using this type of technology, the best way to develop the technology going forward is to actually leverage the feedback and the input from the end user.
So and it’s not just about oh, now we can do this or that, it’s actually we can do certain things better and more efficiently and do it in a way that replicates what lawyers want to do rather than actually forcing lawyers to have to change their methods, change the ways in which they work to accommodate the technology.
Robert Ambrogi: What’s interest – the language issue is a common one that comes up and also in eDiscovery space now again with big cases, global cases where you are getting documents in from all over the world in any number of different languages and as you’re kind of focusing more on the discovery part of it, the deposition part of it, is there a point at which you start to bridge from the eDiscovery phase of the trial to the whatever you would call yourself the trial – basically you are at the trial phase, at the discovery phase, at some point does your technology somehow bridge those two phases?
Graham Smith-Bernal: Well, I think again but I divide technology into two parts, there is what is and we talked about this already, what is used in the engine room of the ship and then what is used on the bridge of the ship by the lawyers, that’s where we sit. One of the key reasons for my success with LiveNote and then likewise here with Magnum is that we are not trying to be all things to all men.
I think the worst thing these software companies can do once they get — build up ahead of steam and they start building up momentum and market share is they start, trying to be everything for everyone and that’s never the way to go. So we believe in a best-of-breed philosophy where we basically focus on what we do and we do it really well and then we create the technical and commercial hooks to other products.
So in this case we are relativity partners so we have that technical bridge to relativity, we recognize that and also iCONECT and another products, Ringtail so the idea is that once I finish doing what I am doing in that world, I can just press a button and all the key documents or certain key documents with the metadata etc. then find their way into the Magnum world.
And that really is what it needs to be about, the open-system approach and not trying to be that monolithic everything for everyone.
Robert Ambrogi: That makes a lot of sense. Well Graham Smith-Bernal thank you very much for taking the time to be with us. It has really been a pleasure to talk with you.
Graham Smith-Bernal: Thank you Bob!
Robert Ambrogi: Thank you.
Outro: If you would like more information about what you have heard today, please visit HYPERLINK “http://www.legaltalknetwork.com” legaltalknetwork.com. Subscribe via iTunes and RSS, find us on Twitter and Facebook, or download our free Legal Talk Network app in Google Play and iTunes.
The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.
Law Technology Now features key players, in the legal technology community, discussing the top trends and developments in the legal technology world.
Casey Flaherty talks about what it means to be the director of legal project management and if the community has been successful.
James Lee and Thomas Suh, co-founders of LegalMation, talk about how artificial intelligence can transform the practice of law.
Katie DeBord talks about how her role as chief innovation officer at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner helps the firm stay aggressively relevant in solving...
Zach Warren talks about what Legaltech News will be focusing on at the show, what’s different about this years Legaltech and if LegalWeek has...
TJ Johnson talks about what technology projects law firms are implementing today and whether or not law firms are generally successful with new technology.
Jason Barnwell talks about the Trusted Advisor Forum and how his team at Microsoft is working to build the practice of the future.