Adam Kuhn is Director, Product Marketing, at OpenText Discovery. I interviewed him at Legaltech in New York, where we talked first about the wide range of technologies which OpenText has collected for the legal market, and then about how they are being used by both in-house lawyers and law firms.
OTEX Legal Tech Overview
Adam Kuhn said that OpenText has a history of acquiring and integrating successful companies, and has collected a portfolio of technology which makes it the leader in enterprise information management. He was at Recommind, and came into OpenText when its acquisition of Recommind provided the core of the OpenText eDiscovery offering.
After that acquisition, OpenText saw that it had a gap on the left side of the EDRM and bought Guidance Software (a company with which I had been associated for over a decade). Guidance Software’s EnCase is, Adam Kuhn said, the “gold standard” of data collection. Integrated with Recommind’s Axcelerate, it gives OpenText a comprehensive end to end eDiscovery offering.
In addition, OpenText has other products specifically serving the legal market including eDOCS for document management and collaborative working, Decisiv for unified concept search across organisations, especially law firms, and Magellan to bring artificial intelligence to eDiscovery.
Shortly after our interview, OpenText announced that it had bought Catalyst, adding yet another dimension to its overall offering to legal clients.
Trends in AI in eDiscovery
I asked Adam Kuhn what examples he was seeing of AI supporting the practice of law. Since Judge Peck’s Da Silva Moore predictive coding opinion in 2012, lawyers have been exploring the boundaries of the use of predictive coding in litigation. The argument has moved away from basic defensibility (by now a battle won) and towards much more nuanced arguments about agreements and protocols for predictive coding’s use.
In other words, the debate has moved on from whether predictive coding is to be used and on to how it is to be used. Adam Kuhn said that those who do not understand the technology find themselves at a disadvantage when they come up against sophisticated parties.
Law firm visionaries and competitive differentiation
I asked Adam Kuhn where we are going beyond eDiscovery with technology of this kind. He said that as parties have got better at using technology for eDiscovery, they have seen what it brings in benefits for them and for their clients. OpenText is introducing more sophisticated tools like Magellan, and showing lawyers what further insights they can get from the documents, finding new nuances between the lines. A lawyer needing to summarise an 80-page complaint can start with some knowledge of its contents.
I asked where the ideas are coming from – are the law firms and law departments self-starting on this, or are they waiting for OpenText to suggest things? Adam Kuhn said that some law firms have always been leaders and visionaries, and are comfortable with the idea of extending the use of sophisticated technology. Increasingly, they come to OpenText with ideas; OpenText then puts the relevant tools together and comes up with a new solution which works for the client.
How do lawyers use that technology and those skills to differentiate themselves from their competitors – how do they take that to the market? Increasingly, Adam Kuhn said, law firms are emphasising not just the technology but having talented people who are comfortable with the use of this technology, selling practical advantages like keeping costs down and giving better legal advice.
Merging lawyers and technologists
I asked Adam Kuhn whether it is easier to introduce lawyers to technology, or to take technologists and make lawyers out of them. Hitherto, Adam Kuhn said, lawyers have had to hire competent people or build the resource for themselves. The new generation of lawyers, the Millennials, are comfortable with the use of Pandora, Amazon or Netflix to find what they want and to give them suggestions, and so are more comfortable with the application of parallel technology to legal practice. They are content to have the system point them towards documents which matter.
Corporate legal departments
I asked Adam Kuhn where corporate legal departments stood in the move towards the adoption of technology. Corporations, he said, are in the business of business, not the business of law. Not every corporation has an appetite for setting up a department fully staffed with lawyers. While some want to build an end to end solution internally, many want a flexible consumption model, concentrating on targeted culling in house so that fewer documents are sent for review.
Optimising the business of law with AI
I suggested to Adam Kuhn that most of the things he had mentioned involved automating things that lawyers do anyway and making their existing processes work better. Was there anything wholly new of which was a benefit to lawyers?
Adam Kuhn said that the ability to crunch very large numbers had multiple potential uses. For example, both corporations and law firms keep very large volumes of billing data. They can look at that data and observe, for example, what they spend against what they bill under particular headings, and perhaps change their pricing model accordingly. For the organisations who are the clients, the same data helps them understand which firms are good at particular types of work and can deliver results at reasonable cost.
There is room for new ideas beyond that. Adam Kuhn mentions the possibility of, say, scouring social media platforms and drawing conclusions about how clients are seen publicly which may help them to get ahead of potential issues.
The future of AI
Adam Kuhn is optimistic about the future. Data continues to increase, and we have not yet reached the maximum point after which volumes will go down. Lawyers need to look ahead and bring in more technology to address their challenges.