When you’re an Am Law 100 firm with over 3,000 employees across 55 offices in 32 states, data and documents are the name of the game. For Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, meeting the needs of every employee, partner, and client is a necessary and valuable part of its business, but it also poses a real challenge. Although ediscovery has come a long way with the onset of new technologies and forms of communication, it can still feel like looking for the needle in the haystack when it comes to getting exactly what you need.
It’s a problem that Gordon Calhoun, partner at Lewis Brisbois for more than 30 years and Chair of the Electronic Discovery, Information Management & Compliance practice group, knows all too well. “The data that we have to analyze is generally presented in document form, but the information that's needed to win a case is often either parts of a document or across many documents,” he said in a recent conversation with Everlaw, “and the trick is to tease out the information needed to win from the four corners of a document.”
The “trick” Calhoun refers to is generative AI. Although some might view this technology as a subject for software engineers or C-suite executives, generative AI is currently having very real impacts on the legal system and how the law operates. Not only is AI-powered facial recognition technology already being used by law enforcement, but AI as a whole is helping create a faster and more efficient ediscovery process as well.
Lewis Brisbois, and Calhoun himself, are at the forefront of the application of this emerging technology, as key members of EverlawAI Assistant’s closed beta. Powered by groundbreaking generative AI, EverlawAI Assistant allows users to quickly move from first-pass review to the merits, as EverlawAI Assistant for document review provides document summaries, people and organization extraction, and custom document queries. When drafting arguments, organizing key information, or testing case theories, EverlawAI Assistant turns a blank page into a powerful first draft, automatically creating statements of fact or deposition summaries, with citations to supporting documents built directly in.
“All of the things that take large amounts of time to prepare have now been truncated...”
Calhoun himself is an early adopter of EverlawAI Assistant, and he has sought out ways to help attorneys leverage technology to get the most out of their practice.
Generative AI, like EverlawAI Assistant, offers “a way to slice and dice the document, focus on the material information, and essentially eliminate the need to skim through or read through the rest of the information in order to find those kernels that otherwise would have been wasted time, in terms of accomplishing the objective of winning the case,” Calhoun said. “By being able to address the why in the content, it goes a long way to taking the building blocks and putting them together with mortar and constructing a wall, whereas many younger attorneys look at the individual documents as a bunch of bricks. They're interesting bricks, but how do they go together?”
“All of the things that take large amounts of time to prepare have now been truncated, which has the huge advantage of allowing lawyers to do what lawyers should do,” Calhoun said. “The whole purpose of the document analysis in prep is to get to a dispositive motion, to get to a deposition. The benefit will be that if you have a fixed amount of money that you prepare to incur defending or prosecuting a case, the amount of time or the amount of money that's now going to be consumed in analyzing the documents is going to be slashed by 30 or 50 percent.”
Transformation in Real Time
Of course, the abilities of generative AI continue to expand rapidly, even in just the year since the introduction of ChatGPT. And when generative AI is applied to the legal profession, its potential seems practically limitless.
“The time that it takes for the generative AI to produce usable summaries is a matter of seconds,” Calhoun said. “The time savings is huge. Unlike the human memory, which is fallible, the information generated is complete and eliminates the possibility of missing an important party to a communication, which, in some cases, could be a make-or-break situation.”
“The amount of time or the amount of money that's now going to be consumed in analyzing the documents, is going to be slashed by 30 or 50 percent.”
Not only is there a time-saving benefit to generative AI technology combing through thousands of documents in seconds, there’s a very real human benefit as well. “From a law firm's perspective, the extent you can get the younger associates' noses out of documents and into more interesting activities is probably really good for them,” Calhoun stated. "It's going to make retention of associates easier because their work is going to be more enjoyable. That's going to be beneficial across the board because turnover [has a] very negative impact in any business.”
Where associates were once forced to spend hours sifting through gigabytes of data, now generative AI can assist them in getting to useful information faster. This gives younger attorneys the opportunity to do meaningful work, improving not just their well-being but also their value to the firm.
Leading the Adoption of GenAI in Practice
With the benefits of generative AI plain to see, it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing more widespread adoption.
“My advice for any firm that is looking to get on the bandwagon of generative AI is to find a trusted partner whose product is relatively mature,” Calhoun offered. “Enjoy the benefits that come from getting out of the rut of looking at documents and trying to tease out the information, and let the generative AI do that because it does it better, faster, and more efficiently than any group of well-schooled humans can do.”
“The benefits of the generative AI that Everlaw has made available are enormous and should have an immediate impact.”
At its core, the benefit of tools like EverlawAI Assistant is in their ability to supplement the work of attorneys. It gives attorneys the opportunity to focus on more purposeful tasks that contribute directly to the outcomes of cases. When you have such a powerful resource on your side, it opens up what’s possible in the legal space, making the justice system more equitable and opportunistic, and creating results people can believe in.
“The benefits of the generative AI that Everlaw has made available are enormous and should have an immediate impact,” Calhoun said. “The boon is that the more mundane, more time-consuming, and often frustrating aspects of document analysis are now going to be the realm of generative AI. This frees up attorneys to do what we've always aspired to do, which is to do good by serving clients.”
The path generative AI will take in the legal profession is still being charted. Calhoun and Lewis Brisbois are charting that path today. When leveraging generative AI, Calhoun explained, truly partnering with a team you can trust is key. “It's not simply a one-way process of the technology provider educating the users,” he explains.
“It's also a symbiotic relationship whereby the users can inform the technologists and the product advocates about what's needed to make life easier on the practitioner level. That undertone or theme pervades the entire process, which makes it a truly collaborative effort to produce a better product and better practice of law and, hopefully, better justice.”