The legal workplace would be almost unrecognizable to a lawyer of the past. The typewriters are gone, WordPerfect is gone, the fax machines are going, and a whole host of new platforms providing services that those older lawyers could never have imagined. Joe and Elie chat with Casepoint CEO Haresh Bhungalia and Casepoint Chief Strategy Officer David Carns about the legal technology landscape generally and Casepoint specifically and how each are changing the legal workflow.
Above the Law – Thinking Like a Lawyer
The Changing Legal Office
Intro: Welcome to Thinking Like a Lawyer with your hosts Elie Mystal and Joe Patrice, talking about legal news and pop culture, all while thinking like a lawyer, here on Legal Talk Network.
Joe Patrice: Hello. Welcome to another edition of Thinking Like a Lawyer. I am Joe Patrice from Above the Law, with me is my esteemed colleague Elie Mystal.
Elie Mystal: Hi Joe.
Joe Patrice: Hey.
Elie Mystal: How are you doing today?
Joe Patrice: I am good. I am good. This is — we are kind of doing the Bob Ross style here, you are calm, collected.
Elie Mystal: I am just pretty happy. I can’t talk about it today because it’s already happened by the time you listen to this podcast, but on the off chance that you haven’t been reading Above the Law for the past week, I suggest you do it.
Joe Patrice: Yes, this is our attempt to have you be cognizant that things you talk about today won’t be heard by people for a couple of days.
Elie Mystal: I just want the people to be cognizant that we also have a website that people should probably read now and again.
In any event, from my topical evergreen talk, I am going to return to a topic that is near and dear to my heart, my goddamn yard.
All right, so Joe, you will remember this because we are actually friends in real life. I have a problem with a stray cat. Now, for the lawyers listening, you might not know this, apparently there is a difference between a stray cat and a feral cat.
Joe Patrice: Yes.
Elie Mystal: Joe, you can explain that.
Joe Patrice: Yes, a stray cat may be a domesticated cat who is just homeless.
Elie Mystal: And a feral cat is like a lion.
Joe Patrice: Well, right, it’s like a tiny lion, like a really tiny lion, but sure.
Elie Mystal: Right. I have one or the other that periodically, especially when it’s cold, kind of comes into my yard area and sleeps under various outcroppings. Obviously when it’s warm the cat doesn’t show up as much, but this summer the cat would periodically sleep under various outcroppings and drink out of the pool, the kitty pool that we had set up for the kids, because we would like leave the kitty pool out kind of early in the day so the water would warm up and then bring the kids out at night and on a couple occasions I saw the cat drinking out of the pool, which is bad, because it’s either stray or feral, rabbit, or like has AIDS.
So okay, so I call, as per your suggestion, I call the ASPCA to come out to my house and figure out what to do about this cat. Of course both times the ASPCA comes out the cat is gone. It knew it was being hunted or some shit, so the cat is just goddamn gone both times the ASPCA comes out. And I am kind of like well, trying to be — I am a humane person, but I am like, can you leave like a trap for it and the ASPCA guy is like, you want us to trap the cat, what the hell is that, what the hell is wrong with you? And I am like not kill it, just —
Joe Patrice: Capture it, yeah.
Elie Mystal: Capture it. No, they can’t leave any kind of standing tiger traps for the damn cat. So they leave and of course like the next weekend that I don’t call the ASPCA, the cat is back drinking out of the goddamn pool. What am I supposed to do? Because it’s about to get cold and we know the cat comes back when it’s cold, but usually at night, like how am I supposed to humanely capture and either find this cat’s owner or release it back into the wild that is not my house.
Joe Patrice: So it drinks pool water, this is the heavy concern that you have?
Elie Mystal: Over the summer, in the winter it like needs warmth and food probably. Who are these cats’ owners?
Joe Patrice: I mean, well, potentially nobody, that’s the thing, right? Yeah, I don’t quite see what the problem is.
Elie Mystal: The problem is I have got a goddamn cat like on my property, drinking out of the pool.
Joe Patrice: Yeah. Well, congratulations, you have got a pet cat now. Welcome to the party.
Elie Mystal: So then, all right, all right, all right, because you are a cat guy, right?
Joe Patrice: I do enjoy cats.
Elie Mystal: I am a dog guy.
Joe Patrice: Yeah.
Elie Mystal: Am I now under some kind of moral or ethical or legal obligation to feed the cat, especially when it’s cold, am I under an obligation to make sure that it has — they drink milk, right?
Joe Patrice: No, no, they don’t do that. They do not do that. No, you don’t need to do anything. If you don’t provide it with food, it will go to your neighbors. It’s not like you live in the country where there is no neighbor for a mile, like it will just move on to the next place over.
If you wanted to be nice, you could provide it with some water, yes.
Elie Mystal: I want to be nice but I also — I basically have the classic like Republican dilemma, right, I want to be nice to it, but I don’t want to encourage its behavior.
Joe Patrice: Interesting. Yeah. Well, it doesn’t get to choose whether or not it gets a job, right, so this cat is — you are not really encouraging anything other than whether it gets its food from you or your neighbor, so I think you are fine.
Elie Mystal: I mean the liberal in me is going to do what I did last winter, which is like —
Joe Patrice: You are going to feed it, aren’t you?
Elie Mystal: Feed it and put a freaking blanket out.
Joe Patrice: Yeah. So you have got a pet cat. Congratulations.
So anyway, that was our exploration of the legal obligations of owning an animal I suppose.
Elie Mystal: Not owning.
Joe Patrice: Right, of caring for a living being. So yeah, all right, well, let’s not talk about that anymore.
Elie Mystal: Okay.
Joe Patrice: No, we are going to talk about some legal technology. As you know, we have talked in the past about how legal technology is this trend that some lawyers don’t quite understand. We have talked to some folks who have given us some insights into what’s going on in that space and this is yet another take on that.
So I was down at the Internet — you heard the episode where we did trivia was down at the International Legal Technology Association Convention and while we were there we also had some talks with our friends from Casepoint and we decided to have them on to talk a little bit about technology and what’s going on.
So rather than have anybody talk on top of each other, let me go through this one by one.
Haresh, do you want to introduce yourself and your job and then we will do the same thing with Dave and then get into this.
Haresh Bhungalia: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you Joe. Thank you Elie, I appreciate the opportunity. As Joe mentioned, my name is Haresh Bhungalia. I am actually the CEO of Casepoint and my job is just to make sure that the ship keeps running in terms of making sure that our technology direction is correct, our customers are serviced and quite honestly that we keep paying the bills.
Joe Patrice: Fair enough. So David, do you want to introduce yourself now?
David Carns: Sure. Hi Joe and Elie. My name is David Carns. I am the Chief Strategy Officer at Casepoint. I have been here for eight years and I probably think way too much about legal technology in general.
And Elie, I think you probably should get a catnip for your neighbors and hand them out as gifts.
Elie Mystal: Ooh, that is some devious shit right there.
Joe Patrice: That is pretty impressive. All right, so now we have a new leader in the clubhouse on how Elie should deal with the cat.
So guys, I guess let’s talk kind of at the 30,000 foot level about the industry first and then we will go into some of the stuff that you are all doing.
Legal technology, now, lawyers are notoriously luddites who just want to keep doing the same thing that they have done for eight million years. But are you noticing that we started to turn a corner that law firms in particular and legal departments at companies, the clients, do you think they have started to kind of turn the corner and realize that it’s time to adopt some technological fixes that the age of the typewriter has finally come to them as it were?
Haresh Bhungalia: Yeah, I think if you start to look at kind of what’s going on out there, we are seeing some of the big law start to embrace technology. I think that they are seeing that if they don’t, they are going to have some challenges along the way.
And I think more importantly, as we live in this kind of transparent world of free flow of information, the law firms’ clients are realizing that holy cow, why are you not doing this differently, why are you not looking at efficiency, why are you not looking at embedding some technology to help you do your job, so that then we can kind of manage our legal spend.
So I think that there is pressure from all sides and there is an opportunity. I think that the adoption is a little bit slower than maybe we would like it to be. But at the same time that creates opportunities for companies like ourselves because it does allow for a longer runway.
Joe Patrice: Yeah. So David, I am wondering if you think there is any push-pull that’s stronger? Do you think the clients have kind of driven this or do you think that some of the elite law firms have just kind of decided on their own that it’s time to face the music and just capture some more market share?
Elie Mystal: Because we know how elite law firms love changing.
Joe Patrice: Right.
David Carns: If you think back, here is a perfect legal technology answer to your question. I was a legal technology in the late 90s and at the time every law firm that I knew and some that I worked at used WordPerfect, and it was like everyone would agree WordPerfect was the way to go for a long time. And then all of a sudden pretty much the entire industry went over to Microsoft Word, for the most part. That was driven by clients demanding that their law firms use the same word processing platform that they were using.
So I would argue that what we are seeing again today is the clients are driving the need for law firms to adopt more businesslike behaviors, running off of analytics, developing legal workflows, that’s being driven by the client and the law firms are reacting to it.
Elie Mystal: You are bringing me back to my CompuServe days there David. My question for you guys is and this is kind of the standard question that we get from a lot of our younger listeners, explain to the younger crowd how legal technology is not going to crush their dreams, prevent them from getting jobs and make them end up sitting in a town in West Virginia voting for Donald Trump? Like how are younger lawyers supposed to compete against the robots?
Haresh Bhungalia: In fact, I would even argue that the younger lawyers actually can compete better, because they are able to kind of embrace and adopt the newer technology that’s out there, they are able to easily navigate their way through the tech and drive efficiency and value as they are servicing their clients.
And so I think when we look at kind of lawyering, if you want to call it that, it’s really about the practice of law. The practice of law is not going to go anywhere, the need for legal advice and legal counsel is always going to be there; it’s just about how is it delivered and what tools are used to deliver it in the most efficient way possible.
Elie Mystal: I love that answer. The younger people are going to merge with the technology, become like Symbiotes, and it will be the old people who were just relying on their old grit and gumption who are cast out, I like that, it’s the future.
Joe Patrice: Yeah. No, I mean I certainly think that’s true as far as who is going to be more likely to adopt the stuff.
And one thing that Elie said that really is key is there is some kind of snake oil level of legal tech that is, this could replace lawyers and whatever, and then there is the other level that is just much like a WordPerfect or a Word, it’s really just a tool that makes things run a little bit faster and it’s not going out to replace you, it’s about to make you more efficient, which I guess this might be the right place to transition into talking a little bit about Casepoint itself.
So what does Casepoint bring to the table and how does it fit into the legal workflow?
Haresh Bhungalia: Yeah. So I think it’s not really kind of a WordPerfect or Word analogy, but it’s something a little bit more than that. I think it’s about kind of bringing a new way of thinking and a kind of a new approach to how — well, we manage eDiscovery within the legal tech space and it’s really about how are our clients looking at eDiscovery as a whole and are they willing to embrace kind of the newer technology that’s out there.
We have been in business for 10 years, so obviously we have all of the basic building blocks of a normal eDiscovery process, if you want to call it that, but it’s really about the way that we deliver the platform and the way that it’s consumed and kind of some of the overarching functionality that we offer around analytics and machine learning and automation and things along those lines that differentiate us.
And so I think ultimately what it comes down to is when you look at kind of the volume of data that’s out there and what needs to be consumed and as that’s growing exponentially, I think that if lawyers are not using the right technology, they are going to get buried and opposing counsel is going to prevail because they are going to have better speed of execution if they are leveraging the right tools.
Elie Mystal: Yeah. Now, that’s an interesting answer, because what you are arguing for or arguing about is that a technological advantage is going to have a real impact on how cases are decided, right, and I think that a lot of lawyers — I mean this goes back to the way the profession thinks of itself and how much stock they put in their own legal and research skills, but what you are suggesting is that kind of the firm with the best technology might have an advantage in court as opposed to the firm with the best facts or the firm with the best legal arguments.
Haresh Bhungalia: Well, I don’t know if that would quite be true. I mean you still have to have a defense of a legal argument that’s supported by evidence, it’s just we are providing a platform that allows you to build that story as efficiently as possible.
Joe Patrice: Yeah. One thing that when I sat down with Dave and go through like the demo of it a couple of weeks ago, is that Casepoint is kind of adaptable to different stuff, like it’s kind of becoming more like an umbrella application as opposed to doing one thing. It gives you the opportunity to set up ways of doing lots of different legal tasks.
David Carns: That’s absolutely right. So we have been known as an eDiscovery company, as Haresh said, for 10 years and as part of delivering that service we have had to build a lot of new technology to service our clients and it could be servicing our clients with technology that complements eDiscovery workflow.
What that led us to was actually over the past two years adapting our entire platform to be a legal technology platform and not just an eDiscovery platform. So now Casepoint can help our clients with custodian management and matter management and other workflows that are just needed to help them with their overall case.
Joe Patrice: Yeah, because I mean I can see even outside of just the litigation discovery world view, like I can see applications where transactional lawyers might have an interest in using something that can leverage all the tools that are kind of built into a Casepoint.
Elie Mystal: When firms are making the transition from kind of an older technology to a newer one like yours, what do you find to be the biggest hurdles for the firms as they are kind of going through the process of transitioning? So assuming they want to do it, which is, knowing is half the battle, assuming that they want to do it and they have committed to do it, what’s the next hurdle that they face?
David Carns: Well, inevitably there is a lot of processes that they need to consider to apply the automation to. So it’s now called digital transformation predominantly, but back in the day it was called business process automation and in order to automate a business process you have to have one. And there is a number of practice groups, there is a number of law firms that they don’t necessarily have a clearly defined business process. So that’s step number one is to really introspect and reflect on how exactly do we do these things.
But then when you start thinking about applying automation to that, you can take advantage of distributed systems, you can take advantage of analytics, you can take advantage of reflecting on the data you have gathered and making new decisions.
I mean it really does transform the way we practice law, but first we have to identify what our processes are.
Joe Patrice: You mentioned analytics and it’s come up a couple of times as we have been talking. I really felt that if there was any theme of this year’s conference it was the rise of analytics, not that people didn’t have analytics before, but that was the big thing, everybody was trying to explain analytics this, analytics this. It seems like the idea that the legal process creates lots of iterative data points and it’s now time to try and harness those into understanding anything, how to better build your business process, how to understand judges, how to understand expert witness testimony, basically everything this year was about analytics.
Elie Mystal: Can somebody make the New York Giants go to that conference because their general manager doesn’t believe in these crazy statistics about running backs.
Joe Patrice: Yeah. Well, I mean, yeah, he doesn’t.
Elie Mystal: It’s a real problem.
Joe Patrice: You are in real trouble there. Yeah, you don’t really have any really positive sports teams right now, do you?
Elie Mystal: No, no, I am just looking forward to the Women’s World Cup, that’s all I got.
Joe Patrice: There you go. But yeah, no, analytics was kind of the theme and that’s something that your tool can really zero in on because especially given its kind of broader mandate of like being an umbrella, you can put everything in there and be able to pull out information from large amounts of data that’s going through it.
Haresh Bhungalia: Well, right, and this is all about, A, you have to be able to gather data in order to analyze it, in order to make business decisions. And the fact that Casepoint is able to take in metadata and provide an eDiscovery team the ability to perform analytics on that metadata to find documents and also look at things like billing practices or timekeeping or just frankly how many matters a client has, those are all bits of data that when being able to pull together lets people make better business decisions and I think more than ever the practice of law is being run more like a business.
Elie Mystal: Give me a real world example for how it works, I guess not real world. I will make up a set of facts and you tell me how it’s going to help, right? I have got a huge document dump. I am looking for any emails related to — yeah, you knew where I was going?
Joe Patrice: No.
Elie Mystal: I am looking for any emails related to Stormy, okay. I just want to know anything that anybody said about Stormy, it could be about storms, it could be about people, but I want to know.
Now, in the old days I am just going to — I am going to get all my documents and an eDiscovery server. I am going to click through them kind of one by one by one by one by one, right, that’s the very old days.
And in the kind of I would say modern era, I am going to run some kind of algorithm on it to get out some of the trash, maybe I can teach the computer, teach the algorithm; God, I sound old, teach the computer, I can teach the algo how to X out emails about a hurricane.
Now, you are the next level, what are you doing so that I can find those Stormy emails a little bit more easily?
David Carns: Okay. So you are going to be able to still do all those things. You are going to be able to run searches. You are going to be able to use the algorithms to find — use predictive analytics to find documents related to the documents related to the ones that have the word Stormy in it.
But think about this. So now you have some sort of custodian tracking system hopefully built on top of Casepoint and you found out, hold on, all of the emails or all the documents related to Stormy turns out to be from a custodian that we collected in Indonesia and nobody else. But why isn’t that we haven’t collected any of the other custodian’s information from Indonesia? We only focused on their India location?
And now this is where Casepoint is helping connect the dots, because you can use the eDiscovery system to peer into the custodian management system, which then allow you to make better decisions about either how to collect more data or offices that you want to focus on.
Joe Patrice: Yeah.
Elie Mystal: All right.
Joe Patrice: And it could also do some stuff as far as when you are saying some of the stuff is about storms and some of it is Stormy, whatever, like it will also have the capacity to kind of figure out that certain custodians, when they talk about storms are the weather service and certain custodians aren’t and that stuff that will like crop up when you start running a lot of data through it and it starts kind of figuring out where things come from with what in them and that can help you better figure out what you need, right?
Elie Mystal: That does sound useful, especially if you are trying to crunch it all on a very tight deadline.
Haresh Bhungalia: And the nice thing is these systems are laying over multiple kinds of algorithms; there is algorithms around language, there is algorithms around patterns of documents, there is algorithms just beyond the distribution of certain kinds of words or for that matter certain kinds of documents, maybe the Excels are more rich with these words than the emails. And connecting the dots between all of them, that’s where the real value is, but you have to have all this data in order to run analysis on it.
Joe Patrice: Yeah, so that’s great. I am glad we got a chance to sit down and chat. We talked down at ILTA and we thought this would be a good conversation to bring onto the podcast so that we can kind of get out there how tech works and your stuff specifically. So that’s great. Thank you so much for —
Elie Mystal: And how you can become a Symbian.
Joe Patrice: Well, yeah, I mean hey, we are not there yet, soon, soon it will take over, but not yet.
So thanks guys for joining us today and thank you all for listening. And be sure to subscribe to the podcast, give it a review; that always helps it out. Be sure to read Above the Law, Elie has already made that pitch.
Follow us on Twitter. I am @JosephPatrice, he is @ElieNYC, and listen to the other shows from the Legal Talk Network.
And that is it. We will talk to you in the very near future.
Elie Mystal: Peace out guys.
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