Paralegals are constantly searching for information for their attorneys, and many AI tools are making legal research easier than ever. Are you making use of AI in your daily tasks? Tune in with host Carl Morrison and Nicole Clark to learn more about AI’s many use cases in legal and how it can help streamline your paralegal practice. Carl also introduces a new segment—Practical Paralegal War Stories—where he shares some of his personal experiences in the profession.
If you would like to have a question answered on Listener’s Voice, Carl’s recurring segment featuring audio questions or comments from listeners, email him at [email protected]
Nicole Clark is the Co-Founder and CEO at Trellis Research, Inc.
Special thanks to our sponsors, NALA, ServeNow, CourtFiling.net and Legalinc.
The Paralegal Voice
Embracing Technology: How AI Helps You Work Faster & Smarter
Carl Morrison: Hello everyone. Welcome to The Paralegal Voice here on Legal Talk Network. I am Carl Morrison, a Certified Paralegal, devoted to law, and your host of The Paralegal Voice.
I am a working certified Paralegal and Paralegal Educator and I am devoted to not only the paralegal profession, but to all legal professionals, from legal support professionals, to paralegals, to those whom we support, attorneys. I am devoted to helping others enhance their passion and dedication for the paralegal profession through entertaining and engaging interviews.
Before we begin, we would like to thank our sponsor NALA. NALA is a professional association for paralegals providing continuing education, voluntary certification and professional development programs. NALA has been a sponsor of The Paralegal Voice since our very first show.
And CourtFiling.net; e-file court documents with ease in California, Illinois, Indiana and Texas. To learn more, visit CourtFiling.net to take advantage of a free 30-day trial.
And ServeNow, a nationwide network of trusted prescreened process servers. Work with the most professional process servers who have experience with high-volume serves, who embrace technology, and understand the litigation process. Visit serve-now.com to learn more.
And finally, Legalinc. Legalinc makes it easy for paralegals to digitally automate tasks like business formations, corporate filings and registered agent services nationwide. Visit legalinc.com/podcast today to create your free account.
The goal of The Paralegal Voice is to discuss a wide range of topics important to the paralegal industry and share with you leading trends, significant developments and resources you will find helpful in your career and everyday job.
Of course, you guys that have been listening to me for a while know that I always going to have guests that are engaging and informational and there’s always going to be a little bit of fun thrown in there.
So with that, we’re going to get our show started. And today is Sci-Fi Day here on The Paralegal Voice. No, we’re not going to talk about the ‘Star Wars’ franchise and the legal ramifications of when they dissolve the Galactic Senate. No.
We’re going to have a great show; and today, I have an amazing guest with me. Her name is Nicole Clark of Trellis Legal Intelligence and she and I are going to discuss what I think is really a fascinating subject.
I am a nerd for those that you guys that know me and it’s called the subject that we’re going to be talking about today is called Legal Intelligence, and basically applying Artificial Intelligence to things like judicial decisions and opposing counsel and helping use AI to make those strategic case recommendations and decisions for your clients.
So with that, welcome Nicole.
Nicole Clark: Thank you so much, Carl, great to be here.
Carl Morrison: We’re so excited to have you. I’m thrilled about this topic, so I will probably geek out and I will try not to geek out too much, Nicole.
Nicole Clark: You are in good company.
Carl Morrison: Good, good. So let’s just jump right off into it. So I love for you to really first help explain, because some of my listeners are new into the legal arena and may not have a lot of experience when it comes to Artificial Intelligence. So I’d like for you to help my listeners understand what exactly Artificial Intelligence is. Most people think of AI as Robby the Robot from ‘Forbidden Planet’ or Calvin from ‘I, Robot’ with Will Smith.
Nicole Clark: Yeah.
Carl Morrison: So in the broadest sense what is AI when we’re talking about that?
Nicole Clark: Absolutely. So “AI” is of course a buzzword that we hear with some regularity and what it stands for is obviously Artificial Intelligence, but within that Artificial Intelligence, it’s actually a broad concept that includes a variety of different subsets, and so what I’m specifically going to be speaking about today and what we utilize in Trellis is a subset of AI that’s called Machine Learning.
And Machine Learning is really a set of computer algorithms. So think computer programs really, and what it tries to do is it tries to mimic human learning by training these algorithms to recognize patterns. And the idea behind the algorithm or the program is that similar to a human you can actually train a computer to recognize and then classify specific patterns; and so, that’s really what Machine Learning is in the broadest sense.
Carl Morrison: Of course we could talk about AI in and of itself and there’s all sorts of literature and other podcasts that talk about and get into the heavy nitty-gritty part of Artificial Intelligence and what we’re talking about.
And so, I think you kind of helped explain in the simplest terms AI and how does it work because basically and people get a little frightened I think, and correct me, if I’m wrong, but a lot of times they think you mentioned about AI and Machine Learning, it’s basically just teaching a computer how to think. There’s not that emotional component to it, it’s really just more about understanding the factual information, right? Is that the best way to kind of break it down?
Nicole Clark: Absolutely. So a really common example for explaining Machine Learning is the idea of training a computer to recognize sort of a picture of a cat and the way that you do that is you would show the computer thousands and thousands of pictures of cats in different sizes, different colors and positions and angles, and with a ton of examples the algorithm slowly gets better and better at recognizing and correctly classifying pictures of cats.
So it’s really giving a very specific objective to the computer and then giving it more-and-more information so that it can train itself and get better at classifying, and a little bit in the legal field the way that we use ML is for example to recognize very specific patterns, like in docket events, to recognize specific docket events and what those events are and then the next layer would be, well, okay, is this a motion, and then if it is a motion what’s the type of motion and so you constantly have to really feed the algorithm more-and-more information, but as it gets more examples, it is ultimately able to more-and-more accurately classify specific events or motion types.
And you’re absolutely right that I think that particularly in legal there’s fear sometimes when you mention AI; oh no, AI is going to take our jobs, but the truth of the matter is that what AI is really good at, what Machine Learning is really good at is a very specific task and learning to do that task better-and-better, unlike the way that humans learn where humans learn in a broad way across various categories whereas AI is a very specific tool that can help humans.
So it’s not something to be afraid of, it’s really something as people in the legal field to embrace to help us do our jobs better.
Carl Morrison: Right, and of course, conversely, when you’re teaching a computer on a set of algorithms to learn, it’s only just like a human only as good as the teacher. So as long as you’re feeding at the right information to teach it right, it’s going to be able to do the job, right, I mean once you say —
Nicole Clark: Absolutely. The data that you feed into the algorithm, the better that that data is, the more structured — the better that you can give the computer and the algorithm more information about all of the different ways it could see a specific event, and it’s going to be able to more accurately identify patterns.
And really at that point become better than a human at it because it’s able to sift through millions and millions of different data points, documents and identify patterns that a human would never be able to just because there’s not enough hours in a day to be able to do that.
Carl Morrison: Physically it’s impossible for a human to do what the machine is doing because it’s —
Nicole Clark: Exactly, but you know what AI can’t do is really advocate for your client, is care about your clients’ needs and make ethical decisions and litigate your case. So at the end of the day it still requires a human to use the AI as a tool to be a better advocate.
Carl Morrison: You’re kind of taking us down that road I wanted to talk a little bit about is that you mentioned a minute ago that a lot of paralegals, lawyers, legal support professionals, the minute they hear AI they immediately react negatively, and I think it’s just because of how culture, pop culture especially has demonstrated that AI looks like and what it’s going to take over the world.
And of course lawyers have been — and nothing against lawyers, I work for all of them, but historically although I think the trend is changing now, but historically most attorneys have been slow to embrace technology for fear of technology replacing and making us obsolete. Of course some lawyers that do embrace technology they take it to the extreme and they think, well great, AI can do everything all the crap that I don’t want to do.
Nicole Clark: Exactly.
Carl Morrison: And all I got to do is program it and sit back and collect my fees and I think you’ve hit the nail on my head that there are a lot of things that attorneys can do, and you tell me otherwise that a machine is never going to be able to do, at least within my lifetime.
Nicole Clark: No, no I agree entirely. I do not see a world even as AI continues to advance and become better and better, there’s not a world where you are going to be able to set your robot lawyer and sit back and collect fees.
I think there’s a variety of tasks that lawyers do that you could have better tools and there you can think of those, many different areas where AI is actually helping it legal right now, particularly in litigation. Litigation is such a nuanced practice. At the end of the day what you are doing is convincing a human, you are convincing a judge, and at this point it takes a human to be able to do that to understand the nuances of strategy, but that human can take in better information, can see patterns, can have information surfaced to help the human better advocate, but I don’t see a world where you are going to have an AI litigator running your case for you.
Carl Morrison: Right, exactly, and you mentioned about a lot of different things now in the legal industry where technology has been applied so how has it been applied? Let’s start with like the past 10 years, how are lawyers starting to use AI today and a lot of people probably don’t even realize they are using AI.
Nicole Clark: I think that’s very true. I think that the best products that incorporate AI are the ones where it’s incredibly intuitive and you have no idea that AI is working behind the scenes to help you. So an example that probably many in the legal industry would recognize is the WestlawNext, so we came from the original where you had very sophisticated Boolean searches and then we moved more towards a Google-type natural language searching which made it much easier and basically to surface the information that’s going to be the most relevant for you.
And so that’s similar to Trellis in that what we do is of course as AI running behind the scenes but all that you see as the user is that you were looking up a specific legal issue and it got you the most relevant results at the top to save you time. So that’s one way that AI is being used in search, but in the industry generally there’s a variety of ways.
So you can look to AI-powered timekeeping is one that people might not recognize, it’s sort of running in the background, keeping track of your tasks, there’s AI and a variety of eDiscovery platforms that make it easier to ultimately sift through too much information, right? So much information that a human couldn’t do it and be able to surface what’s important to the human so that the human can make those strategic decisions.
Carl Morrison: It’s funny that you mentioned eDiscovery. I am a big eDiscovery nerd and I have been a litigation paralegal for 25-plus years and I have seen the advent of eDiscovery and the advent of AI especially within the past five to ten years of learning, teaching the machine giving it a small subset to teach it, this is what you need to look for Computer A to go find in a terabyte of data the information that otherwise it would take an army of reviewers and months to review —
Nicole Clark: — and millions of dollars.
Carl Morrison: Millions and exactly that, and that’s a great point that you brought up about the cost, that technology has helped on some of the costs whereas before you would be spending a ton of money to do what machine is now doing for you. Is that replacing our job? I don’t think so. I think it’s helping.
Nicole Clark: Exactly, ultimately anything that gets a better outcome for the client is going to be better for the industry generally. So even if the specific firm doesn’t make as much on that one discrete task, well, now they have got a client that’s happier, that is more likely to come back, that’s more likely to refer services. So really anything that ultimately benefits a client and of course being able to do your work faster, better and more efficiently is going to be a benefit for the client, is ultimately good for the industry as a whole.
Carl Morrison: To me and I always tell paralegal students it’s kind of how I always teach them that the attorneys of the doctor are doctors of the law, they are there to treat the patient i.e. the client, and the paralegals are more of the nurse, and they are there to help triage and treat the patients or clients based on how the attorney strategizes. And it’s just like in the medical field there are a lot of opening up and a lot of new technology out there that’s only there to help the patients not replacing doctors and nurses.
Nicole Clark: A 100%.
Carl Morrison: And it’s the same in our industry.
Nicole Clark: That’s actually such a great analogy because you think about the doctor. The doctor at the end of the day still has to provide the services but what AI can do is help the doctor by sifting through thousands of prior cases with similar symptoms and similar patterns and being able to surface to the doctor what in that variety of patterns were the medical issues so that the doctor can more easily provide the best care to the client.
Carl Morrison: Yeah, exactly right. So how are you or what are you seeing and how law firms are responding to AI? What are you seeing?
Nicole Clark: So we are actually really seeing firms begin to embrace AI. You mentioned and it’s absolutely right that lawyers are historically tech-resistant, if you will, there’s an idea that you have made it this far with your trusty yellow pad and there’s why changed something that’s working.
But what’s happening is that Litigation Analytics, for instance, are becoming available, and this is information that can help the surface patterns on judges and opposing counsel and outcomes for certain case types and the industry as a whole is beginning to recognize that there are really important use cases for Litigation Analytics that can help firms make better decisions.
And so what we are seeing is that lawyers are beginning to really embrace data and that’s because, one, the data is available now, right, so they couldn’t — some of the data that we are using particularly State Trial Court data was never accessible before.
So on the one hand now you have accessibility to data that wasn’t there before and then at the same time technology had now exist that wasn’t there before. And so with those two things what ends up happening is lawyers are recognizing that their opposing counsel are already starting to use these tools, and the industry as a whole knows that what you really can’t have is asymmetrical access to data.
And so when your opposing counsel is using specific information to analyze a judge or analyze specific motions then really you need to be able to see it too. And so firms in general are recognizing that in order to compete, in order to be efficient and be able to get better results for their client and really compete with other firms out there they also have to embrace technology if they are going to really move their firm forward.
Carl Morrison: You called it Tech-Resistant and it reminded me I had written an article for ‘Facts & Findings’ and it was called “Attorneys and Technophobia”. I called attorneys being technophobic. They were afraid of technology, and so I like ‘Tech-Resistant’, that’s also a good one too, I am going to have to use that one.
Nicole Clark: No, it’s absolutely true and there definitely is a legacy of lawyers being a bit tech-resistant. I actually think that one of the interesting things with the coronavirus is that it’s really sort of forcing lawyers to interact with technology in a way that they haven’t really had to in the past and that this is and will really change the industry to embrace technology more as they see that it’s not something to fear, it’s something that can help your practice that can help you do a better job and advocate better. And so I actually think we are in a very interesting time right now to help the industry forward altogether.
Carl Morrison: I am so glad that I am not the only one. I have been singing on the top of my condo since we were forced into a working remote situation that people need to realize in the legal industry you were witnessing almost a very seismic shift I think and how the legal industry had to forcibly embrace a lot of things that they wouldn’t necessarily have used before, especially Zoom and all sorts of different things.
So, yeah, we are witnessing, we are in the midst of a totally new shift and beginning, and it’s a very exciting period I think in my personal opinions.
Nicole Clark: I couldn’t agree more, I think it’s definitely exciting and I think this is going to have an impact going forward as lawyers recognize tools that they can use that on an everyday basis can actually help them do a better job and I think that as we continue to move forward that the standard of care will actually shift where you would have flown out of state to take that deposition in the past. Now if it’s going to be cheaper for your client, if you are still able to get the same results you can depose someone remotely, or something like what we do at Trellis, which is judge analytics, right?
Looking up your judge analytics from the very start of your case will be the standard of care where that’s step one because you know your opposing counsel is doing it, that information is out there, and it’s a disservice to your client not to be looking at that information. So all together I see a shift happening right now.
Carl Morrison: Yeah, absolutely. Okay, I am going to stop this right there, we could go on forever.
Nicole Clark: No doubt.
Carl Morrison: So let’s take a short commercial break, so don’t turn that dial.
Advertiser: This episode of The Paralegal Voice is brought to you by CourtFiling.net, your solution for electronic filing in California, Illinois, Indiana and Texas. CourtFiling.net provides a better e-filing experience so you can spend more time helping clients, because they know that work sometimes happens afterhours. CourtFiling.net offers 24/7 phone, email, and chat support. Visit CourtFiling.net to receive 30 days of unlimited free electronic filings and see how you too can e-file court documents with ease.
NALA offers continuing education, professional development and voluntary certification for all paralegals. The Certified Paralegal credential has been awarded to more than 19,000 paralegals. The Certified Paralegal Program is also the first paralegal certification program accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. NALA works actively with all those in the legal field to promote the value of paralegals and to advance paralegal professionalism. Learn more about NALA at www.nala.org.
Carl Morrison: Welcome back to The Paralegal Voice. I am Carl Morrison, and of course, my guest today is Nicole Clark with Trellis Legal Intelligence and before the break we were talking sort of the nuts and bolts about AI in the broadest sense and its application. So before we jump back into it a few more questions I want to ask you, Nicole, but why don’t you tell the listeners a little bit about yourself and Trellis?
Nicole Clark: Absolutely. So my background is as a litigator and I practice a variety of different civil litigation from business disputes to a lot of class-action wage an hour work as well. And so I found myself litigating at the State Court level constantly. And Trellis was really born out of my own frustration not being able to access information, not being able to find information about my Judge or about how my specific case and causes of action have made their way through state courts in the past.
And I just couldn’t believe that there wasn’t a good way to do sort of practical legal research to understand not only at the Appellate level how a specific case is going to play out, but at the Trial Court level where we are all actually practicing, how does my Judge think about this issue, how is my opposing counsel handled this issue in the past? And so we really started collecting data because I was so frustrated in my own career that I wasn’t able to easily access this State Court data, and so Trellis was born out of that frustration really.
Carl Morrison: So what were some of those major challenges that you faced?
Nicole Clark: Absolutely.
Carl Morrison: What were you wishing that you had that you weren’t finding it when it came to the researching the State Court level decisions or better understanding your opposing party’s strategy, what was it that you, “Oh my gosh, on my Christmas list, Santa, this is what I want.”
Nicole Clark: Definitely. So it was a long Christmas list and we are still working on building it, it’s a never-ending list but it was, I mean, I am sure for all of those at firms you have seen the emails that the lawyers sent around, does anyone they just got assigned to a case in front of a specific Judge, does anyone have any Intel on Judge so-and-so? And I was often the associate that was tasked with collecting the anecdotes that we would get from other attorneys in the firm in response to that question.
And then what I would do is collect all of these anecdotes and make a strategic recommendation to the client about the way to move forward, how to litigate the case generally and whether potentially you should decide to request reassignment to a different Judge, which of course you only have a couple of days to make that decision and that can have a massive impact on your case.
And so my own wish list was we are appearing before these judges at the State Trial Court level, there is data that’s being released on how these judges rule and no one was aggregating or collecting that data, and really my initial wish list was, I want to be able to search and see the way my judge has ruled on specific issues before. Before I make a decision to request reassignment to a different judge, I want to have hard data that tells me how this judge has ruled on specific motions and specific issues in the past so that when I am making a recommendation to the client I know that there is some hard data and not just anecdotes behind it.
And so my initial wish list was really how do I get more accurate, more practical information so that I can make strategic decisions that I know are backed by more than one person’s experience in front of the judge.
So that’s really one of the things that we began to do is look at the way that a judge rules across all of their cases on specific motions and then from the start of your case be able to pull your judge report and see hard data on how the judge rules and from there then you can go to your client and really make strategic recommendations. And so that was sort of step one on the wish list, but you can really continue to apply that across other areas.
So great, now you have hard data on your judge, what’s next? Well, look up your opposing counsel, see what their trunk court cases are, how many other cases do they have right now, do they handle this type of litigation very often, do they take these cases to trial, so all of that insight and information that can help the attorney make decisions all along the path of the litigation that is going to set the case up to be able to have a better outcome for the client. This is some of my wish list that we are solving at the moment.
Carl Morrison: Well, and it’s interesting that you are talking about having to send out that that email early on of trying to find the anecdotal information. I live in Las Vegas and in Clark County and we have got 20 some odd different judges that you randomly get assigned to a matter and on the lit fin side of course and we get a new suit in and we see that it’s been assigned to judge x and we have never been before that particular judge and so we send out the email or we call other attorneys, have you worked or been before this judge, what are they like, should we get rid of them, should we try to get — see if we can get a better judge.
And then you get a new judge and now you and the people that you know, you ask and none of them know that particular judge because it’s a new judge on the bench or it’s a judge that’s only been for a couple of years and so they have never been before them yet.
And so it’s like yeah, you are sitting there going well, crap, how do I strategize, and that was going to be my next question is, why is it important to know how a judge or opposing counsel handled a similar matter in the past? Why is it important to know that?
Nicole Clark: Absolutely. So just to hit back for one second on something that you mentioned that made me think about it is there is also I think an incorrect assumption among those in the legal industry that you appeared before a judge once and they ruled a certain way and that that one anecdote will be able to then lead you to make the right decision the next time or to be able to give information to a colleague that will help them.
But one data point taken out of context can actually be more concerning, it can actually be a problem if you rely on that, whereas when you are able to see a broad dataset, how this judge has ruled across thousands of cases, then you can make a better determination that well, there weren’t specific facts in that one case that may have led the judge to decide that way, but you can know more broadly speaking how the judge is likely to rule across a spectrum of cases.
And the reason that that’s important is really because we all have tendencies, judges have specific tendencies and they tend to, just like humans in general, we all tend to have patterns and tendencies that we follow. And so being able to see that from the start of your case really allows an attorney to be proactive, it allows them to look up a ruling by their judge on a specific issue and then write their motion to that judge using the case law that that judge thinks is persuasive, being able to organize their analysis in the way that that judge thinks about the legal issue and really understand that.
And so you can be incredibly tailored and specific when you have information from the very start of your case and you are able to take that information in when you are drafting motions and make them tailored and targeted.
Or when you are deciding which motions to bring, is this a good MSJ case, you can’t make that decision in a vacuum or with one piece of data, you really need to see across the board. And so of course that same assumption that judges tend to follow patterns and tendencies, well, just like other humans, opposing counsel does the same.
And so they likely have tendencies in the way that they litigate specific cases and again, when you have that information from the start of your case, that allows you to make better decisions and really the whole goal of Trellis is to surface information, to make the law accessible so that everyone can really make the right decision, and in order to make the right decision it requires that you have the right data surfaced to you so that you can.
Carl Morrison: Well, and that’s interesting because talking about opposing counsel and understanding, it’s the same with the judges as well. You look at and think okay, well, I have this anecdotal story about this judge or this opposing counsel or I know this judge is “pro plaintiff” from the defense side and you are going okay, but that’s all I know.
Yeah, hearing what you are saying and understanding that, applying the AI to a series of data, because I love data, I am a nerd when it comes to data and being able to — especially as a senior paralegal and working for whether it be your managing partner or general counsel and whatever the case might be, I would love to be able to pull that data and say hey, attorney X, this is how they have been ruling on these particular type of motions. I know we are planning on filing this particular motion, look how it is, versus just having a willy-nilly, oh, they are pro plaintiff, the judge is pro plaintiff, so they are just going to always rule no matter what we say for the plaintiff.
But yeah, hearing what you are saying that if you can see strategically an analysis that’s been done, yeah, to me that’s just like oh my gosh, this is fantastic.
Nicole Clark: And I will tell you that’s the response that we get from our customers generally is this idea that I think as legal support and as lawyers we have been trained to think okay, we look at Court of Appeals data as our source of truth for all information. And being able to actually look at information from the trial court level, to search information, to see trends and analysis at the trial court level, it’s almost like having a crystal ball where you can look in and see okay, how have similar cases played out, and by having that information, that’s how you can make those strategic decisions.
So I love that you are a data nerd, a self-professed data nerd, many of our clients are super excited to be able to see this data that’s just historically been inaccessible.
Carl Morrison: So I have to ask you and this is the geekiness, but you talked a little bit about in broadest terms how AI works, taking that knowledge, this is kind of like how the sausage is made, so I am going to ask this question, how do you apply that AI or that machine learning to researching and understanding, and let’s use the judge scenario first, understanding that judge’s predisposition to rule a certain way or on a certain kind of motion or how does that work, how do you apply that, kind of walk us through just shortly how that works?
Nicole Clark: Sure. So one of the things to understand at the state trial court level for anyone who has a firm that practices in that area, you will know what I mean when I say that the data is — it’s not integrated, it’s not uniform, there is nowhere besides Trellis now where you can search one database and be able to get to records across courts.
So each county really has its own separate court and hosts and maintain their data separately, so that if you wanted to look up let’s say something on a specific case, you would have to go to that county court’s website and then you would have to put in the docket number or the case number and then from there you could pull up the docket, maybe some case files, depending on the court, but without that docket number, without knowing that case name, you would never be able to even find out where the information lives.
And so what we do to start with is aggregate all of that state trial court data under one house let’s call it. So we pull in information from all of the various county courts and then make it searchable. You can think of it as a Google for state trial court data, where you can then put in your judge’s name and pull up your judge’s report from the start of your case.
So many of our paralegals and support staff will actually give the attorneys the entire package, the summons, the complaint and the judge report altogether, so that the lawyer can understand the fact pattern of the case and then immediately understand the way that this judge rules.
And the way that we do that is we look at the, let’s say, specific docket events where this judge has ruled on a motion to dismiss and then we look at that judge’s ruling on that specific motion across all of their cases and then we tell you how often that judge grants — partially grants or denies that specific motion, and then we give you the context of other judges in the county and other judges in the state so that you can understand exactly where your judge is an outlier. Because sometimes making an assumption that well, this judge let’s say never grants a motion for summary judgment or grants it 10% of the time, but then if you looked up and it looks like, well, judges across the state only grant it 12% of the time. Well, then that’s not something that you actually want to ding your judge, that you want to request a different judge on, because you are likely to end up exactly at the same place again.
So it’s having that kind of information of not just being able to see a specific example of a judge ruling on one motion, but seeing how they rule on that motion across all of their cases and then where they fall in relationship to other judges and in the county and the state.
And then if you back up for a second and say okay, well, that’s the high level of how I do judge research, the granular level would be, I type in my judge’s name and what I do is I start pulling my judge’s rulings on specific motions and then from there I can search my judge’s rulings on specific case types and then a layer deeper on specific motions and then a layer deeper on very specific legal issues, so that you can see exactly how your judge thinks about specific legal issues.
And really I argue that if you have case dispositive issues, you need to be understanding that from the start of your case and really planning your legal strategy around that, because it’s information that’s out there and it’s really our duty to best represent, to best advocate for clients to have the information on how the judge rules, both from a high level on specific motions and specific cases overall and then from a granular level on my legal issue, on my cause of action, how has my judge ruled in the past. And from there you are able to really come up with a plan and strategy.
Carl Morrison: Just gives me chills, I get all geeky about it, I just — to me, it’s phenomenal.
So besides having and applying the machine knowledge and learning to doing something like this, where do you see other areas of our industry, where do you foresee AI assisting litigators and non-litigators alike, being able to provide those better services?
Nicole Clark: So I actually think legal is one of the best use cases for AI, because here you have an industry with just massive amounts of data, and it’s data that’s difficult and complex to go through, that would be very, very difficult for a human to, if not impossible, for a human to be able to go through and classify and identify patterns.
And so anywhere where you have an industry that is extremely data heavy, AI is going to be able to help surface information. So I see that continuing and I think we have already seen a revolution in the way that discovery and e-discovery is being done and that’s just going to continue to get better and better and get better tools so that the highest expense and the worst part of the case won’t have to be the discovery portion anymore.
And then similar to — the next worst part of legal is of course tracking your time and AI can be incredibly helpful there, in running in the background as you are working in specific documents, it can be sort of watching and can note to you at the end of the day, this is where we saw all of your activity.
And really litigation analytics though I think will be something that will have just a massive impact on the way that lawyers litigate, because that’s something now that instead of making academic recommendations to your client about the way you think that the case should be handled based on Court of Appeals rulings and judges, now you can make those recommendations based on the data from the court system that you are actually litigating in and that will help lawyers overall to be more efficient and to make better decisions which are going to have a better impact for the client.
So I see AI as being helpful really in the broader sense almost across a variety; contract automation, that’s another one where AI can be incredibly helpful in recognizing patterns and specific clauses that are often used in this type of contract that were left out in this one. So anywhere where is a need to recognize patterns and tendencies, AI is going to be really, really useful for.
Carl Morrison: And that’s what is really exciting about our industry is being able to be on the forefront of being able to incorporate and utilize technology, not just for our own benefits, but ultimately for the client and that’s the big thing is the patient, as like I called it earlier, our client is our patient and that’s who we have to take care of.
Nicole Clark: Exactly.
Carl Morrison: Well, it looks like we are running out of time and you and I could definitely keep going on and on and on and on, probably have a three hour conversation about this.
Nicole Clark: Oh absolutely.
Carl Morrison: So I have a fun — I always have to have a fun and final question for my guests and you are not any different so you don’t get away from it.
So I have to ask you, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and most locations, they are starting to ease up on the restrictions, what’s the one fun thing that you have missed since you have been having to stay at home and since those stay at home orders were implemented and what are you going to do once you are no longer under the lockdown?
Nicole Clark: Well, the hard thing is picking one thing I think, there are so many things. And we are actually out of Los Angeles, which has had a very, very aggressive shutdown. So specifically for me, I have a six-year-old and for all of those with parents of younger children out there, you know how difficult this has been really, and so I think there are two things.
One, just go to the park, it’s really the basics that you don’t recognize how big of an impact it had on your life and how much it was helpful to you and your child. And then the other thing which actually we just got announced, we are opening back up yesterday, are the beaches. So it’s really just being out in nature and if anything I think that as we return and reemerge out of this, I think there is a greater level of — just where we recognize what we enjoyed so much, we can appreciate it more than we ever have before. So I am getting out there into nature is my first order of business.
Carl Morrison: Well, I have to agree with you, I am missing outside, I am missing the beach, I am missing all of that, but my number one and we are a state just two days ago open back up, partially, but in the way of hair salons, so I will go get my haircut after eight weeks of not a haircut.
Nicole Clark: I agree with you, you don’t realize that salons are essential services until you are in lockdown.
Carl Morrison: Right, exactly right.
Nicole Clark: Couldn’t agree more.
Carl Morrison: Thank you so much Nicole for being a guest on today’s show. I think it was phenomenal.
So if any of my listeners wanted to get in touch with you, how would they do that?
Nicole Clark: Absolutely. So you can find us, we are at trellis.law and you can reach out for any information at [email protected]. And you can find me also on Twitter @Nicole_A_Clark.
Carl Morrison: Fantastic. Well, thank you Nicole and that is all the time we have for today’s podcast, so be sure and tune into next month’s episode and stay tuned for something new in the way I am doing on the ending segment of my show, so you definitely don’t want to turn off. So stay tuned, we will be right back.
Looking for a process server you can trust, ServeNow.com is a nationwide network of local prescreened process servers. ServeNow works with the most professional process servers in the industry, connecting your firm with process servers who embrace technology, have experience with high-volume serves and understand the litigation process and rules of properly effectuating service. Find a prescreened process server today. Visit www.serve-now.com.
Today’s episode is brought to you by Legalinc. Legalinc is empowering paralegals to embrace their inner legal rock star by automating the everyday tasks that hold them back. Through their free dashboard solution, paralegals can quickly and easily automate services like business formations, corporate filings, registered agent services and more. Visit legalinc.com to create a free account and check out legalinc.com/podcast for a chance to win legal rock star swag.
Carl Morrison: Welcome back. So before the break I said I wanted to do something different, so I did. I wanted to try something on the show this time around and I will tell you a little bit about how it kind of came about. Recently I was and am collaborating with an amazing paralegal, she is amazing and we are doing a couple of projects and I can’t tell you what those are, it’s top secret, so don’t even ask me, but stay tuned, there will be more coming out about those.
But we just started talking and we were sharing all sorts of anecdotal stories, what I like to call war stories and it hit me just how many real life practical stories I have over the 25 years, 25 plus years of experience. And maybe you would like to hear some of those and how you can apply what I have learned from my own personal stories, war stories in your own professional life.
But don’t worry, if you are looking for your favorite segment, The Listener’s Voice, I am not getting rid of The Listener’s Voice, trust me, I just want to do something a little different this time around.
So let me know if you like this segment after we do it, but I am calling it Practical Paralegal War Stories. So send me an email of course, [email protected] and if you have any questions of course for The Listener’s Voice, send those to me, we are going to make those — that will happen in the next show that I do and always send me an email, make your voice The Listener’s Voice known and heard and again the email is [email protected].
So today on Practical Paralegal War Stories I feel like I should have like an intro music to go along with this, but I wanted to share with you a situation and stressing the importance of being a team player. Many years ago I worked with a well-known highly respected trial lawyer, she practiced across the country at federal level as well as state level and she is one of the most amazing trial lawyers I have ever worked with and worked for. And she relied heavily on me day in and day out in and out of the courtroom.
And one particular scenario that happened that she relied on me was we were doing a major products case and our expert was flying in out of town and there had been some bad weather that had delayed him, missing his flight, missing his connecting flight and he got in late the night before a evidentiary hearing that he was going to have to testify at for us. And he got there, he got in town enough time to go to Dillard’s to buy a new suit and a change of underwear as his luggage didn’t make it with him.
And so that next morning, the morning of the hearing I come to work 7:30 and I am greeted by this particular attorney that I worked for and she said Carl, I need you to go to the airport to pick up expert X’s suitcase. And I am like what, okay, okay, you need me to do that, absolutely. And she said unfortunately we don’t have — he doesn’t have his claim ticket so you just need to figure out how you are going to get the suitcase because he has to have that suitcase and we are going on to the hearing. Yes ma’am, absolutely, I will do it.
And so I get my car and I head to the airport and I am thinking, how am I going to get this man’s suitcase, I don’t have a claim ticket, I can’t pretend I am him, how am I going to do this? So I show up at the airport, go to where the luggage is at for this particular airline and tell them I am there to pick up suitcase name of John Doe.
And the claim attendant said okay, hang on for a second and he goes back to pull the suitcase, and he was taking a very long time to come out and I am starting to panic because I am thinking he didn’t ask me for a claim ticket; however, I sort of pretended I was him by just saying I am here to pick up suitcase of John Doe. And I am worried now at this point thinking oh God, the airport security is probably — he has probably called them, I am probably going to get arrested, what am I going to do, thinking all the worst.
And he comes out and he has got the suitcase and he says, is this the suitcase and I am like yup, that’s it, although I don’t know what the man’s suitcase; all the expert told me was that it was a TUMI suitcase and I am like okay, that’s TUMI, that’s got to be it, yup, that’s it.
Walking out of the airport with this man’s suitcase, and as soon as I got out of the claim attendant’s view I looked and yeah, sure enough it was. And had the suitcase, brought it back to the office. They came back from the hearing and she came to me and she said Carl, thank you so much for going and doing that, you are amazing. And I said absolutely, any time, that’s what I am here for.
Now, you are thinking what, you went and got a guy’s suitcase. Absolutely, and you know why, it’s because I am a team player, no matter what, within reason of course, but getting an expert’s suitcase from the airport is not in my job description, that was never in any job description I have ever had, but it is part of being a team player. And Mary trusted me out of everybody that worked at that particular firm and she came to me specifically knowing that I am a team player and I am going to do it without question, and I did it without question and got it back and got it to her and to him.
It’s important to understand that there are going to be times that when you are working at a firm and your supervising attorney is going to ask you to do something that’s not necessarily within your job description, like I said a minute ago, of course within reason; ask me to go kill somebody, I can’t do that, but going and picking up a suitcase at the airport for our expert, absolutely. Is it billable? No, I couldn’t bill for it, but you know what, things like that demonstrate, speak volumes to not only your supervising attorney, but to those that you work with and around that oh hey, Carl is a team player, I can rely on him because he is not going to throw a fit, he is not going to question it, he is going to just do it and do it with a humble heart and a servant’s heart and just do it without question.
And that’s what is important to understand is that, like I said, there is going to be times that you are going to be asked to do things that may not necessarily be in your job description, but when you demonstrate that you are a team player and you are going to do it without question, without any guff, it just is going to speak volumes in other ways that will help you grow as a professional.
So that’s our Practical Paralegal War Story for today’s episode, and of course that’s it, that’s all the time we have today for The Paralegal Voice.
So if you have questions about today’s show, of course email them to me it devoted2[email protected] and of course stay tuned for more information and upcoming podcasts for exciting paralegal trends, news and engaging and fun interviews from leading paralegals and other leading legal professionals.
Thank you for listening to The Paralegal Voice, produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network.
If you would like more information about today’s show, please visit legaltalknetwork.com, find Legal Talk Network on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or download Legal Talk Network’s free app in Google Play and iTunes.
And reminding you that I am here to enhance your passion and dedication to the paralegal profession and make your paralegal voice heard.
Outro: 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, or subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.