Thomas J. Hamilton is vice president of Strategy & operations at ROSS Intelligence in San Francisco, California. He was...
Jared D. Correia, Esq. is the CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based law firm business...
Artificial intelligence is changing the way lawyers can do legal research, and tech that was once only accessible to big firms is now easily available for lawyers in any size firm, even solos! Jared Correia welcomes Thomas Hamilton of ROSS Intelligence to discuss current trends in legal research and how AI streamlines the work lawyers do to allow them to focus on higher level tasks.
Thomas Hamilton is vice president of strategy & operations at ROSS Intelligence.
The Legal Toolkit
Using AI to Improve Legal Research
Intro: Welcome to Legal Toolkit bringing you the latest legal trends and business initiatives to help you manage your law firm with your host Jared Correia. You are listening to Legal Talk Network.
Jared Correia: Hello my friends and welcome to yet another episode of the award-winning one and only Legal Toolkit Podcast here on the Legal Talk Network.
If you are looking for a DVD copy of Season One of Quantum Leap perchance, I am your guy.
If you are a returning listener, welcome back. If you are a first time listener, hopefully you will become a longtime listener, and if you are the kid from ‘So I Married an Axe Murderer’, you have a gigantic head.
As always, I am your show host Jared Correia and in addition to casting this pod I am the CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based law practice management consulting services for law firms, bar associations and legal vendors. Check us out at redcavelegal.com.
I am also the COO of Gideon Software, Inc., which offers chatbots, a first-to-market chatbot builder and predictive analytics created specifically for law firms. Find out more at www.gideon.legal.
You can also listen to my other, other podcast; yes, I have another one, called The Lobby List. It’s a family travel show I host with my delightful wife Jessica and that’s on iTunes. Subscribe, rate and/or comment.
But here on The Legal Toolkit we provide you with a new tool each episode to add to your own legal toolkit so that your practices will become more and more like best practices.
In this episode we are going to talk about Using Artificial Intelligence to Improve Legal Research, a topic near and dear to my heart. But before we do so, before I introduce today’s guest, let’s take a moment to thank our sponsors without whom there would be no show.
Abby Connect has delivered premium live receptionists and answering services to lawyers since 2006. You can try them out for free at abbyconnect.com.
Scorpion crushes the standard for law firm online marketing with proven campaign strategies to get attorneys better cases from the Internet. Partner with Scorpion to get an award-winning website and ROI positive marketing programs today. Visit scorpionlegal.com/podcast.
Nexa, formerly known as Answer 1, is a leading virtual receptionist and answering service provider for law firms. Learn more by giving them at call at 800-267-9371 or online at www.nexa.com.
TimeSolv is the number one web-based time and billing software for lawyers, providing solutions since 1999. TimeSolv provides the most comprehensive billing features for law firms big and small, www.timesolv.com.
All right, my guest today is Thomas Hamilton, the Vice President of Strategy & Operations at ROSS Intelligence. Thomas was trained at Dentons, the world’s largest law firm and before that attended many prestigious educational institutions in Canada and France, none of which I can pronounce.
Thomas, welcome to the big show.
Thomas Hamilton: Thank you, happy to be here.
Jared Correia: You are decorated my friend, it’s impressive.
Thomas Hamilton: That’s one way of putting it.
Jared Correia: I also found enjoyment in the fact that I caused you to YouTube several classic films when you read the script for this podcast episode. So this weekend you are going to watch ‘So I Married an Axe Murderer‘ on DVD that I will send you.
Thomas Hamilton: Yeah, yeah, I am looking forward to it and I have to brush up on some of my early Mike Myers.
Jared Correia: Yeah, we will work on that. We can work on that together. I think we have broken the ice a little bit, but I always like to do an icebreaker question to start, like can I say that I think you have a really cool name.
Thomas Hamilton: Thank you. I think you have a cool name.
Jared Correia: Oh, really?
Thomas Hamilton: Your name is like gravitas, yeah, yeah, absolutely.
Jared Correia: Oh, you should talk to my kids because they don’t feel that way. A lot of vowels, it’s hard to spell. But you man, you sound like you are one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, like that’s pretty dope.
So I have a question for you; two-part question.
Thomas Hamilton: Yeah.
Jared Correia: If you were actually able to be one of the American Founding Fathers, which one would you choose, and since you are a Canadian, I am going to offer you an out, you could also just tell me about a Canadian dude or lady that you really like?
Thomas Hamilton: Okay. So I am going to give a two-part answer.
Jared Correia: Nice.
Thomas Hamilton: I just saw Hamilton, I just saw Hamilton like —
Jared Correia: Which was named after you, we should tell people that.
Thomas Hamilton: Yeah, that’s exactly right. I saw like three weeks ago and I thought it was incredible, in San Francisco, so definitely kind of biased the way I am leaning, but I am going to go with Hamilton, if we are allowed to count him.
Jared Correia: Yeah, good call, that works. Could never be president, but that’s all right.
Thomas Hamilton: No, and he is — like he has got the cool, intellectual, he would write like crazy, super-opinionated and sort of a pacifist, but also war hero at the same time, like he was a very cool kind of millennial hero in my mind. Like I don’t think it’s an accident that that play came out at the time it did and it’s so well written as well. So I am going to go with Hamilton.
Jared Correia: Well played.
Thomas Hamilton: Thank you, partially because of my name. And I think from the Canadian side I would say Pierre Trudeau, because I really admired how he sort of was able to keep different parts of the country working together despite a lot of difficulties in doing it, and he was an intellectual guy, he was a really cool, smart, worldly guy, but he wasn’t above sort of just working with the average Canadian and helping people understand their differences and work together, which to me is — that’s a very Canadian style kind of founding father, if you will.
Jared Correia: I didn’t think Canadians had differences. I just thought if there was like a potential argument, they would just be really nice to each other and then there would be no more argument.
Thomas Hamilton: No, that’s just the whole — that’s sort of our national PR campaign. It’s like behind the curtains like we are arguing, but we have just got to look very friendly to everyone else.
Jared Correia: Oh, interesting. So if I went to Canada like people would just be beating the hell out of each other behind Tim Hortons?
Thomas Hamilton: Oh yeah, it’s like the Lord of the Flies basically.
Jared Correia: Wow, wow, all right, I am going to stay in the US.
All right, let’s talk about the real stuff, right, legal research, artificial intelligence stuff. I have heard of this thing, artificial intelligence, it seems to be a big deal. I read about it in my New Yorker. It seems modern and exciting. So can you tell us a little bit about what artificial intelligence is and means?
Thomas Hamilton: Yeah, sure thing. So I am going to give the definition that really worked for me when I was exposed to this stuff. I didn’t come from a typical tech background. I was a lawyer, like you said I was trained at Dentons and I worked with a lot of our tech clients, but I didn’t come from a coding background or anything like that.
So the way it was explained to me by the AI engineers and AI cofounders at our company is artificial intelligence is software that can do something that we thought only a human could do, pause.
Jared Correia: I like that. Pause, full stop or we will continue.
Thomas Hamilton: Well, pause, half stop, because the power of that definition, like why it works so well is that I think it illustrates in a nice way how it’s always a moving target, right? So what I think is something only a human can do is not the same as what my nephew when he comes to my age will think and what in my mid-30s I think of as like something that only a human can do is totally different from what my father thought like when he was in university.
So AI is a moving target, it always evolves, and a simple example of this is, remember like when Siri came out for the iPhone 4s, that was sort of mind-blowing tech that you could talk to a phone. That was a great example of simple speech recognition. Now that’s totally just table stakes. No one would call that artificial intelligence anymore, but really just a few years ago that was groundbreaking AI and it shows how quickly the field evolves.
Jared Correia: Yeah, I think that’s a good point. All right, so let’s take a moment to talk about what AI is not. So what is probably the major misconception about AI?
Thomas Hamilton: So I think the biggest thing that we come across based off the work we do and chatting with lawyers with the tech we have is people confuse 2019 AI, which is narrow applications of artificial intelligence with all-powerful omniscient AI, which is also known as general artificial intelligence, which may never be possible, but even if it is, it is extremely far into the future away from us.
So to differentiate, narrow applications, it’s an AI system, software system that can do one thing really, really well, that’s basically it. Usually it can do that thing so well that it can outperform a human based on some simple metrics and I am sure we will dive into that stuff later on in the podcast, but to differentiate that, general AI is like the sort of the HAL in ‘2001 Space Odyssey’, it’s the sort of like omniscient unifying source code that can do everything a human can do at the same time, we are light years away from ever attaining that.
So I think that’s the biggest misconception we hear, where you see a lot of hyperbole in the press right now.
Jared Correia: Yeah. No, I think that’s a good point, like this is partly related to like this traditional narrative, which is like man versus machine, man versus AI. I mean this is like John Henry stuff. This is like Bobby Fischer versus Deep Blue.
Thomas Hamilton: Yeah.
Jared Correia: And we will definitely dive into that more. So let’s try to tie this into legal, so like where are we in artificial intelligence adoption, the lifecycle for legal tech firms? Let’s start there.
Thomas Hamilton: So I would say that we are early, but we are thankfully past the first wave of major excitement and we are healthily sort of into the, not the full-blown trough of sort of disappointment, but the more realistic expectations.
Jared Correia: This is not where I was expecting you to go here. No one is excited anymore.
Thomas Hamilton: No, listen, why I say that is that early on and we are — as a company we are just over four years old, but in sort of startup land, I mean that’s — in startup land years are like dog years, right? So we are a very established company at this point and when we first came out and we said we are an artificial intelligence company, like full stop. There was a lot of skepticism and then a lot of excitement, but it was the classic sort of like hype cycle excitement which historically AI has gone through multiple times actually.
Why I say it’s nailed sort of a more reasoned view and why I think that’s good is that it’s gone from, it’s AI, it must be good, which is not the case, to let’s evaluate this tool just like any other tool, and if these claims of the killer AI algorithms powering it are true, well, then surely this tool will outperform other stuff on the market, it will be easy to use, more powerful and more affordable and that’s the sort of healthy mindset that attorneys should have in evaluating any technology, not just AI technology.
Jared Correia: Reasonableness is so boring.
Thomas Hamilton: You are just trying to get the Jerry Springer answers from me, you know?
Jared Correia: I know. I want some controversy. I am trying to get downloads man, come on. No, but I think you are right about that, like the more lawyers can view this as like an assistive technology I think, which is something we will talk about moving forward, like the better they will be to adopt it and then they are just going to start making more reasonable decisions about it, just like they would about any other technology. I think ultimately that’s a good thing for companies like yours.
All right, I am spent. Let’s break and then we come back after some more words from our sponsors.
Your legal work requires your full attention, so how can you build lasting relationships with new or existing clients while juggling your caseload? Try Abby Connect, the friendly, highly trained and motivated live receptionists who are well-known for providing consistent quality customer service and support to law firms just like yours. Every connection matters. So call Abby Connect today at 833-ABBY-WOW to get started with your free 14-day trial and $95 off your first bill.
Do you feel like your marketing efforts aren’t getting you the high value cases your firm deserves? For over 15 years Scorpion has helped thousands of law firms, just like yours, to attract new cases and to grow their practices. As a Google Premier Partner and winner of Google’s Platform Innovator Award, Scorpion has the right resources and technology to aggressively market your law firm and to generate better cases from the Internet. For more information, visit scorpionlegal.com/podcast today.
Jared Correia: Hey everyone. Thanks for coming back. I have returned. I was just binging ‘Pioneer Woman’ with my daughter, that’s her favorite show, shout out to her.
But now let’s get back to our conversation with Thomas Hamilton, founding father and member of the ROSS Intelligence team. We are talking about the use of artificial intelligence in legal research. So let’s turn to that specific topic which we haven’t addressed.
So I feel like a lot of the majority frankly of the innovation in terms of machine learning and artificial intelligence takes place in the legal research space right now. I mean broadly your company and others, that’s where I see like real innovation. So A, do you agree; and B, why are legal research providers so well-positioned to build AI solutions versus like other legal tech companies?
Thomas Hamilton: So I agree with the first half, but not with the second half and I will go into why.
Jared Correia: Okay, controversy, that’s what I am talking about.
Thomas Hamilton: Here we go, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, all right. So look, so Jared, you are right when you say that companies focusing on legal research have a lot of interesting use cases for AI, that is absolutely true, and specifically the use case that we are talking about is what’s known as natural language processing, which has in legal research almost the perfect sort of use case. The idea that —
Jared Correia: Can you talk a little bit about what that is so people know; I don’t know that everybody knows what that is?
Thomas Hamilton: Absolutely. Okay, so basically an NLP system is the idea where you can pose a complex context specific question to the AI system in the same way or the same format you might pose that question to a human expert and the AI system will return only highly relevant, on-point context specific responses.
So a sort of breakthrough moment in the last 10 years in this for any Jeopardy! fans that are listening is when IBM’s Watson supercomputer beat the two reigning human Jeopardy! champions. And why that was so exciting from sort of an AI geek point of view for us was that that was a wonderful, very controlled, but wonderful example of how good NLP, natural language processing systems had become.
The AI system received the same complex, frankly kind of confusing questions, exact same format that the two human experts, the two best Jeopardy! players in the world received and then returned more timely and more accurate on-point answers than they did. So there is a lot of parallels with that and with legal research.
Jared Correia: The real question is could the computer beat James, the most recent Jeopardy! champion? We shall see.
Thomas Hamilton: We shall see, we shall see, and that incidentally goes into the fun thing of just like we saw with chess and will likely occur with Go as well, it’s sort of the concept of centaur chess, right, so like if the absolute best human champion, can they then lose to a pretty decent human and a really good AI system and vice versa, like can a pretty good human with a decent AI system totally beat the bejesus out of the best natural language processing system.
Jared Correia: Got you, and now for the second part of your answer.
Thomas Hamilton: Right, okay. So the second part, second part is, so there are companies focusing on legal research that have great AI pedigrees. To be honest it’s not an even playing field, because you need to have started from the ground up as an AI company to really be able to reap the benefits of what’s possible right now.
Some of the more established players that have been out there for a long time started more as publishing companies or as Boolean search companies, so their expertise doesn’t really lie in AI, nor does their tech stack allow for them to easily pivot into some AI search, but what they are very good at is all the other stuff.
And so that’s sort of the segue into the companies that are best poised to benefit from AI moving forward. I think you are going to see, and this is kind of a spoiler, but like you are going to see more and more collaboration than you might be used to in legal tech. Typically legal tech is very siloed and that’s typical of young tech markets, but as the tech markets mature, you see this in a million different examples, you are going to see more and more collaboration.
So I will give you an example. We work very closely with Clio, right? So I am sure a number of you are familiar with them.
Jared Correia: I have heard of that company.
Thomas Hamilton: Yeah, I feel like I have heard of them before once or twice. So Clio does a number of things very well, but if you boil down to a few points, it’s a great CRM and great practice management software. They don’t touch legal research. But the odds are very good that if you are a small firm attorney or a solo and you use Clio because it helps you streamline a lot of — sort of more business sides of your practice, well, the odds are very good that you would also benefit from a tool like ours, which would help streamline your legal research.
So I think legal research companies are doing some of the coolest cutting-edge stuff on the AI front, but you are going to see some really interesting collaboration happen as well as the stuff goes more and more mainstream.
Jared Correia: I think those are all great points and this notion of like being in AI to start and taking full advantage is sort of similar to when you saw these cloud-based platforms developed, like anytime you see a company move from premise-based to cloud, it’s almost a disaster, and if you start in the cloud, you are already there and you have a significant advantage.
All right, so let’s move to actual lawyers. So I asked about AI adoption in the legal tech space in the last segment, how about law firms, like to what level are law firms starting to utilize AI, including like smaller law firms?
Thomas Hamilton: So the first movers were large law firms and we saw that and in many ways kind of started that trend a few years ago and that makes sense, right, large law firms have the budget to have a full-time Chief Information Officer, Chief Knowledge Officer, Chief Technology Officer and to fly them around the country, to fly them to Europe, to fly them over to Asia to attend conferences. So they were the most aware of what was happening in AI, they really were.
But something that has then evolved since then is sort of the arrival of what we call plug-and-play AI solutions. So this is stuff that is not built for a firm with a million dollar budget a year, it’s stuff that is affordable for any size of firm, for solos, and it’s something that you can learn to use in minutes, requires no installation, no on-prem, no tagging your own data, anything like that. And as that sort of has arrived on the scene I think that we have seen a very, very substantial uptick in terms of certainly how our technology is used by small firms and solos.
And I think why that matters is A, there is an access to justice settlement, because really those are the attorneys that provide legal services to the overwhelming majority of Americans. It’s not the mega firms like where I was. They do very important work, but your clients are the Fortune 500.
It’s also the majority of attorneys in the country are small and solos and to me the litmus test of your AI tech is, is powerful, is no matter how sophisticated what you built is on the back end, someone should be able to use it in two seconds. And what we are starting to see and it goes back to where I was talking about like the AI adoption cycle, we have crested that wave where it was just, it’s AI, it must be cool, now it’s, this thing has to literally deliver value right away and typically small firms and solos are probably a bit more mature on how they evaluate tech for that.
So I think we are really hitting the sweet spot now where you are seeing small and solos really adopt AI, it’s going to keep happening, but the wave is already building now.
Jared Correia: All right, let’s segue from that to talk about like how those law firms who haven’t tried AI yet, like the litmus test firms, right, the solo and small firm attorneys, if they want to get into this, but they have no clue about it, what’s like some low risk, low effort ways to at least try to utilize an AI system or part of one?
Thomas Hamilton: Yeah, so I might get dirty looks from members of sales teams at some other companies, but I think any good AI tech, like they should make their product available for you to trial for free with basically no strings attached. It should be like signing up for Netflix, if not easier. If they are doing that, then it’s in their interest to make sure it’s easy to use their product, not only easy to use it, but easy to like understand what it does.
So I would say that there is a few good resources to learn about that, you can google, there are different folks like Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites, different folks cover it. Clio has a great summary they release every year; LawGeex has done one a few times, it’s great too, but the AI tech is out there, it’s going to help you, you should be able to sign up and trial and use right away.
Also, now that this stuff is really showing its value, it’s now in law schools. So today, just a few hours ago we went live with our .edu sign up, so that means that any student or any member of the law faculty can sign up for free unlimited use of our tech on our website. That means that when we do talk at law schools and we get invited pretty regularly to talk about this stuff, we literally will have the entire class sign up like in front of us on their laptops. So when you hire that summer student or when you are working across from opposing counsel, they will already be familiar with some of the AI tech that’s out there, because once again it should be that easy to try and use and understand.
Jared Correia: Yes, Bob Ambrogi, my grandfather is a tremendous legal tech writer. I am sorry Bob, I had to.
Okay, let’s take our second and last show break. While I try to figure out ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’, listen to these words from our sponsors.
If you are missing calls, appointments and potential clients, it’s time to work with Nexa Professional. More than just an answering service, Nexa’s virtual receptionists are available 24/7 to schedule appointments, qualify leads, respond to emails, integrate with your firm’s software, and much, much more. Nexa ensures your clients have the experience they deserve. Give them a call at 800-267-9371 or visit them at nexa.com/podcast for a very special offer.
Imagine billing day being the happiest day of the month instead of the day you dread. Nobody went to law school because they love drafting invoices for clients. At TimeSolv, our attorneys save on average over eight hours a month in billing work. That means more billable time and turning billing day into happy day. Learn more about how to get to your time and billing happy place at timesolv.com. That’s www.timesolv.com, remember that’s timesolv.com.
Jared Correia: All right, thanks for hanging around, part three, we have made it. I didn’t have any better offers either.
Guess what, we are still talking with Thomas Hamilton of ROSS Intelligence, who has been educating us on how artificial intelligence can be used to improve legal research by small firms, solos, big firms, law students. Let’s find out more.
All right Thomas, how can AI in legal research function as a training tool for new lawyers or can it, because I think a lot of people out there think the reason you do AI research is to replace the efforts of new attorneys?
Thomas Hamilton: Okay. So I am going to get more controversial with you because I know you want to increase the temperature.
Jared Correia: Yes, coming in hot in here.
Thomas Hamilton: I think that this is absolutely not going to replace junior lawyers or the work they do and the reason for that is because there is sort of a fallacy in how we value entry level legal work. I think a lot of what I took out of law school; well, I really enjoyed law school and a lot of what I took out of my early training at my firm, and I really enjoyed that training too, there was a philosophy unfortunately and it was basically that you learn about shovels by digging a lot of ditches.
Jared Correia: Nice.
Thomas Hamilton: And the issue is there was almost this thing of you have to pay your dues. Like if you haven’t spent four or five weekends just stuck with your nose in books or hammering away on Boolean search terms on legal research, then you don’t understand how it works and therefore you don’t understand how the law works. And I think that’s incorrect and it’s almost a little bit masochistic of us, which is totally something lawyers do.
What our tech lets you do and what a lot of AI tech lets you do is it gets rid of some of the things that we are terrible at, like staring at a screen for hours and hours and gets you to things we are good at, which is putting you in front of passages directly from case law that you analyze, you do the creative thinking about, but that we know through AI algorithms answer your question.
So AI overall, it isn’t replacing new lawyers, it streamlines the work they do and lets them spend more time on the high value-added kind of tasks, which is what we all went to law school to do anyways.
Jared Correia: Yeah, that’s beautiful. I like that. It brings a small tear in my eye. All right, I have grilled you enough about AI, let’s enter the potpourri section of our show.
Thomas Hamilton: This is my favorite part of the podcast by the way.
Jared Correia: This is going to be really good, like the random questions. So how will Mr. Hamilton the landscape change in legal the most in the next five years?
Thomas Hamilton: So in legal tech you are going to see that consolidation, you are going to see the further emergence of like platforms that really aggregate a number of different tools. Clio is a really good example of that already, but I think that you are going to see that increase more and more. You are going to get almost like a sales force-esque situation. So that’s in legal tech I think.
And I think in the world of legal overall, it remains to be seen. Like the last few years everyone has been saying the Am Law firms are going to totally fall apart, it’s going to be the hollowing out in the middle. We have seen that a bit, but I mean the really elite firms are making more money than ever.
I do think that small and solos are going to be able to do more than ever possible before because of what AI is going to allow them to do. So in that way you will see almost like a reversion to maybe 50 years ago or 70 years ago, where it wasn’t the small firms just getting totally frozen out of larger mandates, AI is going to give more power back to those smaller firms that want to take on the big firm type mandates.
Jared Correia: You are spot-on on consolidation. I think many pricing attorneys don’t even know that’s happening.
What’s one piece of advice you have for our audience on any legal related subject and if you would like feel free to also give a piece of life advice?
Thomas Hamilton: Wow, okay, hmm.
Jared Correia: No pressure.
Thomas Hamilton: All right, life advice, if you are going to order poutine, make sure the cheese curds are fatty enough that they squeak like a mouse when you eat them.
Jared Correia: I am so glad you went this direction. I have a surprise for you in a second, but go ahead.
Thomas Hamilton: Okay, that’s the life advice. The legal advice is I think it ties back to what’s going to happen in legal tech and that’s just the world I am in, so it’s what comes to mind, we are really entering the golden age of legal tech. Legal tech used to be a very sort of slow, insular part of the tech world overall, but now because what’s happening in AI and like we talked earlier in the podcast, what is possible through natural language processing and how perfectly that applies to case law research, legal tech is really attracting really sort of the best and the brightest, like people that otherwise would go to Amazon, to Facebook, to Google.
And that means you are going to see very powerful products come out, but products that are designed around the same design principles that Apple uses when they create a MacBook or when they make an iPhone. This is tech that’s very easy to use, powerful to use and you can basically use coming out of the box and I would really encourage you to try it out.
Jared Correia: Okay. After I asked this question I just need you to confirm that you had no idea this was coming, because it relates to your last answer.
Thomas Hamilton: Okay.
Jared Correia: This is one of my new favorite segments in the show, it’s called that tweet you forgot about, in which I read back to you a Twitter post you made and you comment on it. Are you ready?
Thomas Hamilton: I am worried, but I am ready, yeah.
Jared Correia: Good, I am glad you are ready because that was a rhetorical question, I was going to ask anyway. Are you ready for this? This is going to be crazy. November 21st, less than a week ago, you tweeted, “It wouldn’t be a Canadian Consulate event in San Francisco without a solid poutine station” and you just talked about poutine not knowing this question would be asked.
So here is my follow up question for you. I feel like we have got the simpatico thing going right now. For the uninitiated, can you tell people what poutine is and then I would like to hear your take on tolerance for variations on the standard formula?
Thomas Hamilton: Okay. And I am going to apologize in advance to any Canadian listeners from eastern Ontario or Quebec, that may correct me, but that’s fine, we are going to build more controversy here for listeners, Jared, right?
Jared Correia: Yes. Excellent.
Thomas Hamilton: So poutine, my understanding is there are three towns around Quebec City which all claim to be sort of the originator of poutine, in the same way that — like different styles of barbecue in different parts of United States, there is different areas that like would have claimed that the mustard-based sauce came out of like this town, that kind of thing.
So the core concept is, it’s very simple, so it’s French fries covered in gravy which is then covered in cheese curds and cheese curds are the very fatty little pieces, they are kind of the size of popcorn, they almost look like popcorn, of pure cheese, typically sort of a cheddar or I guess kind of a mozzarella and like a very salty fatty grade of that type of cheese. So that’s like the textbook answer, but then it gets very finicky, and I use like the barbecue example again, because everyone knows at a high level what a barbecue is, but then it gets very political.
So from there, there are these three towns like I said, that’s my understanding, but then it gets very regional in Quebec and certainly in the rest of Canada and like West Coast is a whole other thing and da da da, and like I have actually had really good poutine in New York, it’s spreading down there for sure.
Where I grew up in Ottawa, nation’s capital, but smaller than Montreal, which is two hours east and smaller than Toronto, which is sort of five hour southwest, generally the view is the fries should be thick cut, like those fat, sort of like the same size and dimension as like sort of your middle finger and —
Jared Correia: Steak fries we call those in the US.
Thomas Hamilton: Steak fries, yeah, and very fried, so like they get kind of that dark, like a Chuck Wagon fry, you know what I mean?
Jared Correia: Yeah.
Thomas Hamilton: And then generally dark gravies, like a dark beef gravy and super, super fatty, like I said, squeak when you bite them, they are so fatty cheese curds.
But there is another school of thought, I would say not as legitimate, but I would say like 70%-30% legitimate split of it can be a lighter gravy, like a light brown gravy and it can actually be thinner fries.
Elgin Street Diner, which is right by Parliament Hill in Ottawa, does a great job of that. So everyone would kind of agree on what I said to this point, from there though the variation is like hyper political.
So to me, I am a purist, like you eat poutine after like skating on the Ottawa Canal, building a snowman, you know what I mean, it’s snowing outside. I mean it could be the same thing in Massachusetts, right, like the beautiful New England winter.
Jared Correia: Or just drinking maple syrup.
Thomas Hamilton: Just drinking maple syrup, yeah, exactly. The thing is, if you are not living in that kind of weather, the meal I described is like pretty heavy, like if you are like sitting on a beach in San Diego, I don’t know if you want to eat the kind of poutine I grew up eating. So that’s where you see more variation. There is some simple stuff, like a little bit of like onion on top, that kind of thing, but it can get crazy.
Montreal is big on smoked meat, which is like — that’s like corned beef, right?
Jared Correia: Yeah, yeah.
Thomas Hamilton: You like cats something in New York, that works, it’s still heavy, but now that it is expanded more, look, when something you love gets shared with a lot of people, Jared, you no longer have ownership of it in the same way and there is a lot of —
Jared Correia: This is just like when I founded Netflix.
Thomas Hamilton: Exactly. It’s like when you founded Netflix, exactly, the age-old story, right?
Jared Correia: Right.
Thomas Hamilton: When you founded Netflix, it was about sharing DVDs with friends of yours and you would like mail it to each other, and now it’s not. Now they spend like a billion dollars on every movie.
So poutine has changed, it’s evolved and ultimately we have to celebrate that, but for me, I am a purist at heart and that’s where that tweet came from, in like a moment of nostalgia, a six hour flight away from where I grew up, at this cool, very debonair sort of consulate party in San Francisco, where I was like of course, there is great poutine here.
Jared Correia: You have made it, but it’s bittersweet. I understand.
Thomas Hamilton: Exactly. That’s perfect, yeah, it’s like you have outgrown the town where you grew up, but you had to sacrifice something to get to the big city and maybe it was worth it, maybe it wasn’t.
Jared Correia: I like how we talked about AI for like half an hour and your most discursive, longest, most emotional response was to the question about poutine.
Thomas Hamilton: I have practice answering that one.
Jared Correia: This puts like a nice bow on the shell.
And so to that point, we have reached the end of yet another episode of The Legal Toolkit Podcast.
This was a podcast about AI in legal research and poutine and we have been talking with Thomas Hamilton of ROSS Intelligence.
Now, I will be back for future shows with further insights into my soul, the soul of America and the legal market. If you are feeling nostalgic for my dulcet tones however, you can check out our show archive, our whole show archive anytime you want at legaltalknetwork.com.
So thanks again to Thomas Hamilton of ROSS Intelligence for making an appearance as my guest today and for being a good sport.
All right Thomas, can you tell everyone how they can find out more about you and about ROSS?
Thomas Hamilton: Yeah, sure thing. So we make it really easy. To learn more about me and my tweets about poutine as well as AI, feel free to follow me on Twitter. I am a really active tweeter. So my handle is @tjhammy on Twitter. And then to learn more about our company and what we do, just google rossintelligence.com. I mean you can read about us. We explain how the product works, but I would really encourage you to just sign up, trial it and use it as much as you want, and all you have to do when you go to the main page, there is going to be a button on the top right in blue, it says Sign Up, click there, put in your email address, we will get you signed up, you can use it for 14 days unlimited. If you want a little bit more time, that’s fine, let us know.
Let us know what you like, let us know what you don’t like as well. It’s all been built off of attorney feedback, first sort of the founding teams; myself and our CEO, as we have grown more attorneys, but now we really do run like a Silicon Valley company. We build it off the feedback we get directly from users, so we would love to hear what you think. And like I said, all you have to do is go to rossintelligence.com and sign up.
Jared Correia: Thanks again. That’s Thomas Hamilton of ROSS Intelligence. And finally, thanks to all of you out there for continuing to listen.
This has been The Legal Toolkit Podcast where the wild things are.
Outro: Thanks for listening to Legal Toolkit, produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network. Join host Jared Correia for his next podcast covering the current business trends for law firms.
If you would like more information about today’s show, please visit legaltalknetwork.com. Subscribe via iTunes and RSS. Find Legal Talk Network on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, or download the free app from Legal Talk Network 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.
Legal Toolkit highlights services, ideas, and programs that will improve lawyers' practices and workflow.
Crushendo CEO Adam Balinski gives an overview of the many challenges and changes in bar prep and exams throughout the pandemic.
Stephen Seckler describes how coaching can help lawyers build their practice and have greater career satisfaction.
Scott Brennan of Lexicon discusses tactics for increasing profits at your law firm.
Tucker Cottingham reveals the ‘why’ behind common inefficiencies in legal practice.
Steven Lando, a CPA and tax partner at Anchin, explains the ins and outs of PPP loans for legal professionals.
Timothy Bowers offers insights from his many years of successful virtual legal practice.