Since the late 1990s, Joyce Raby has spent a career bringing technology to legal aid. While a booster and believer in technology's potential to improve America's legal system, her experience is tempering.
"We've been saying for a very long time that technology was going to be the saving grace for the justice ecosystem," she says. "I don't think it is."
For litigators accustomed to conducting discovery inside large warehouses surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands, of cardboard file boxes, combing through several forests' worth of paper to find the few relevant documents was like trying to find the needle in the haystack.
In 2005, Mark Britton sat at a kitchen table in Sardinia, Italy.
It had been about two years since he left the online travel company Expedia, where he was an executive, and he was ready to uncork something new. It wasn’t a bottle of cabernet sauvignon or grenache that the Mediterranean island is known for: He was aerating an idea that could change how legal services were delivered in the United States.
Robert Litt has confronted cybersecurity and encryption issues for two presidential administrations. With Russian interference in the 2016 election as a backdrop, Litt, an ABA Journal Legal Rebels Trailblazer, says the U.S. has been facing online threats essentially since the internet's creation.
The noble legal profession is notorious for its inability to move away from long-standing traditions. While many firms of all sizes experiment with new technologies, methodologies and business practices, the vast legal landscape can hardly be distinguished from itself two or more decades ago.
“To what extent should societies delegate to machines decisions that affect people?” This question permeates all discussions on the sweeping ascent of artificial intelligence. Sometimes, the answer seems self-evident.
From the late 1980s to mid-2000s, Cornell Law School professor Charles Kenji “Chuck” Whitehead was steeped in BigLaw securities and deals work. He also had top leadership positions as a hybrid banker and a lawyer in big finance companies involved in venture capital and securities.
Ryan Alshak and some friends developed a great app for electronic devices to exchange digital profiles rather than business-card information over Bluetooth connections. But no one was going to beat down any doors to get it.
For Joshua Browder, necessity really is the mother of invention. The 20-year-old London native is a self-described terrible driver who took action on his ton of traffic tickets while driving to and from high school.
“I’d get huge tickets, and I wouldn’t be able to pay them because I didn’t have a job,” Browder says. “I had to figure out a way to solve my problems legally."
John Tredennick started a focus on legal technology in 1988—back when law firms saw it as something limited to fancy computers and adding machines. He asked Holland & Hart, the Denver-based firm where he was a partner, to add the words chief information officer to his title. Inspiration came from an American Bar Association conference.
Matthew Stubenberg’s legal career is shaped by the Great Recession. In 2010, he started law school at the University of Maryland, where he “fell in love with criminal defense.” However, upon graduation in 2013, the legal market was still recovering, and he was without a job. That was when Stubenberg learned how to code.