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Leading the Digital Transformation in State Government

A Conversation with Sean Hert

by Gina Jurva

In the ever-evolving landscape of legal technology, professionals like Sean Hert are at the forefront, shaping the future of legal support as the Litigation Support Project Manager for the Ohio Attorney General's Office. Hert’s experience mirrors the transformative impact technology can have on legal processes. His responsibilities extend beyond conventional litigation support. 

In a recent conversation, Hert shed light on his role and his extensive experience facilitating technological transformation at the state Attorney General's office.

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In an era dominated by digital information, Hert's role in legal support is pivotal. He navigates the intricacies of litigation and ediscovery, operating beyond traditional legal support in the dynamic and fast-paced intersection of technology and legal proceedings.

Hert is often called upon to act as a guide to attorneys grappling with the nuances of technology. He uses his expertise to aid in document requests, orchestrating meet-and-confer sessions, and constructing electronically stored information (ESI) protocols. In this rapidly evolving digital age, Hert stands as a linchpin, ensuring that legal professionals adeptly navigate the vast pool of documents, whether for plaintiff-driven or defense-oriented discovery.

"You never know what kind of data you're going to receive and what kind of format it's going to be in."

"I help our staff look at the documents to find the most probative, responsive ones as quickly as possible,” he said. In essence, Hert not only streamlines the document review process but also plays a crucial role in enhancing the overall litigation strategy. 

By empowering attorneys to swiftly pinpoint key pieces of evidence, he works to contribute to the construction of robust cases and the informed decision-making vital for success in contemporary litigation scenarios dominated by digital information.

Creating a Flexible Approach, Capable of Overcoming Any Challenge

The Ohio Attorney General's Office deals with a panoply of matters, ranging from small cases with paper documents to large multidistrict litigations involving millions of documents and terabytes of data.

For government offices needing to survey a wide variety of needs, having the technology, procedures, and support in place to handle every type of matter is essential, so that teams like Hert's can provide a coherent solution for matters of all sizes and complexities.

"Everlaw has been very flexible in allowing us to have matters that have a thousand documents and matters that have millions of documents and handle them all pretty efficiently and coherently," Hert shares.

That flexibility extends not just to matter size, but to emerging use cases as well.

“We've been using Everlaw for about 10 of those years," Hert says. "We use it for not just regular document-driven discovery and review, but we found some nontraditional ways of using Everlaw."

For instance, empowered with the proper tools, Hert and his team can now easily extract transcripts from videos that traditionally posed challenges, such as police videos or interviews. This use has proven invaluable, allowing the legal team to easily generate transcripts from visual evidence that might have otherwise created a significant burden.

"You never know what kind of data you're going to receive and what kind of format it's going to be in," Hert explains. Being able to navigate through that information efficiently is key to creating a more streamlined and effective litigation process.

The Power of Accessibility

Of course, technology means nothing if it's not used. One of the key factors Hert looks for when evaluating platforms, then, is user-friendliness. With the adoption of Everlaw throughout the Office, Herts notes, even technologically hesitant attorneys can quickly become proficient in producing valuable work products. 

“Competing software might take me a day to train the attorney... I can do that in Everlaw in less than 90 minutes.” 

“The user interface is very clean and allows me to take attorneys who are not comfortable using technology... to review documents and provide worthwhile input into their cases and how to litigate their cases quickly with very little training."

Tools with accessible interfaces and streamlined learning processes are the ideal choice for technologically hesitant attorneys.

“Competing software might take me a day to train the attorney to be able to look at documents and give me worthwhile work products on those docs. I can do that in Everlaw in less than 90 minutes.” 

Embracing AI: The Everlaw Certification Experience

Hert recently participated in Everlaw's AI product certification and found the live experience invaluable.

"Everlaw is going in the right direction with AI," Hert shared. "They're not looking for AI to replace the reviewer. They're looking for AI to facilitate the reviewer. I think that that's an important distinction."

Hert envisions a harmonious collaboration between legal professionals and AI, where technology acts as a powerful ally, streamlining processes and augmenting capabilities.

Education is key to staying ahead of that transformation. The AI certification not only bolstered his confidence in utilizing predictive coding but also illuminated the potential of Clustering, a facet he previously approached with some reservations. 

 "They're not looking for AI to replace the reviewer. They're looking for AI to facilitate the reviewer."

As he contemplates the future, Hert anticipates the upcoming versions of the AI assistant, excited by the prospect of further advancements that could revolutionize the efficiency and precision of document reviews.

"Everlaw is cutting-edge, not just reacting to the ebb and flow of legal tech, but helping direct the flow."

A Champion and Advocate

Hert's unwavering enthusiasm for the transformative power of technology is clear and deep-rooted. It's a transformation, he says, that "has impacted my career in more ways than I can possibly count. It has made the way that we handle documents and review documents so much easier and so much more efficiently than we ever did before.” 

As the legal practice continues to be shaped by emerging technologies, from cloud-native ediscovery platforms to powerful artificial intelligence tailored to the needs of litigators, Hert’s experience stands as a beacon, illustrating the transformative potential of a collaborative relationship between legal professionals and innovative platforms.

In a legal landscape that demands agility, efficiency, and precision, organizations like the Ohio Attorney General's Office show the impact that a proactive approach to technology can have, empowering legal teams to navigate the digital age with confidence and success.

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