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This year has seen an explosion of articles about artificial intelligence, technology and innovation, often in the context of transforming the legal profession. The writings have been accompanied by a number of conferences scheduled to address these issues. One upcoming conference is the College of Law Practice Management (COLPM) Annual Futures Conference, scheduled for October 26-27 in Atlanta.
One highlight of the Futures Conference is presenting the InnovAction award to the winners. COLPM has been honoring innovation in the legal profession for the past 13 years. The InnovAction Awards competition spreads awareness within and without the legal profession of the changes, some dramatic, occurring and coming in the profession. This year, several entries reflected the growth of interest in the artificial intelligence and tech areas, leading to important innovations in the delivery of legal services. The two winners, announced by the college on August 28, are Novus Law, led by COLPM Fellow-elects Ray Bayley and Lois Haubold, and Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP, led by Whitney Gibson.
Novus Law’s entry was “Novus Accelerate,” a unique combination of process, technology, statistics and decision analytics that gives clients greater insight into the meaning of their data and documents with unprecedented speed so that better decisions about their litigation can be made sooner.
The process to examine and analyze evidence is based on the principles of lean manufacturing that eliminate redundant and unnecessary work, and reduce mistakes, cycle time and cost. This process, Novus One-Touch, accelerates time to knowledge for corporate clients, which is critical for making decisions, resolving matters and reducing costs.
Novus Accelerate also uses machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to target the identification and retrieval of key and hot documents. Going far beyond predictive coding, lawyers use syntactic rules to provide the computer with customized inputs so it can “learn” to find the important evidence quickly and reliably in vast amounts of data.
The statistics include a multiple-regression algorithm that uses years of statistical data to forecast with statistically significant accuracy the number of key and hot documents in a body of evidence. This algorithm provides the confidence, within a statistical margin of error, that the story of “what happened” includes all of the important evidence.
The decision analytics tool uses the theory of prediction markets, i.e., the wisdom of crowds, to provide clients with a probabilistically weighted view of the possible outcomes for their matter. This allows clients to make strategic and financial decisions based on the story of “what happened” in their matter.
The entire focus of Novus Accelerate is to get provably reliable information to clients far faster than is customary, allowing the clients to make informed decisions about strategy, tactics and settlement much sooner.
The Vorys’ entry was “Online Seller Enforcement.” Online sales have been growing exponentially. The problem? Brands were only benefiting from a small and decreasing percent of those sales. For every legitimate seller, growing numbers of unauthorized sellers emerged for nearly every product — from batteries to skin lotion and from air conditioners to work boots.
These unauthorized sellers of online goods were taking revenues from brand owners. The unauthorized sellers also caused legitimate sellers to drop prices, the perceived value of products to erode, and angry authorized retailers to refuse to continue doing business with a company.
Third-party online marketplaces traditionally have done little to help brands stop unauthorized sellers. Brands naturally turned to tech companies with previous success monitoring authorized sellers. But authorized sellers were documented and easily tracked; unauthorized sellers are unpredictable and undocumented. Brands also approached their legal counsel, who generally struggled to act quickly using a whack-a-mole approach.
Vorys found itself in a market full of separate entities spinning their wheels to help in any way possible. Vorys’ innovation was combining novel legal tactics with the abilities of cyber investigators and the efficiencies of technology. The Vorys program — for seemingly the first time — not only helps remove unauthorized online products for sale, but also helps stop them from returning by identifying and pursuing the source of the goods.
Vorys also created a graduated enforcement system that allowed for great efficiency in the legal pursuit of unauthorized sellers. Packaged with the technology and investigations, the legal work became part of an integrated enforcement program that is highly cost-efficient.
The value of a novel approach is best judged by clients, and for Vorys clients have spoken enthusiastically. Vorys represented its first client in the space two years ago and now supports over 100, many of which are global brands.
Novus (a repeat InnovAction Award recipient) and Vorys join a distinguished list of prior winners. Both winning entries fit well with this year’s Futures Conference theme — artificial intelligence. We have not yet arrived at the point where machines can replace the thought, design and planning that go into programs like these. Both also are big wins for clients.
I am honored to serve on the COLPM Board of Trustees, so please consider this a shameless plug for the Futures Conference. Details are available on the College’s website here. I also have the honor of serving as the chair of this year’s InnovAction Awards, but was not involved in the judging of entries.
Congratulations to the winners.
Patrick Lamb is a founding partner of Valorem Law Group and a founding member at ValoremNext. Pat is the author of “Alternative Fees for Litigators and Their Clients” and a frequent speaker on the effective use of alternative fees and innovations in the business of practicing law. He blogs at In Search of Perfect Client Service, contributes to the ABA blog The New Normal, and is a Trustee of the College of Law Practice Management. You can follow Pat @ValoremLamb.
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