Successful litigators connect all the facts in the case to build a story. Technology should be an aid in this, not a distraction.
To show litigators better ways to bring technology into their workflow, Allegory founder and CEO, Alma Asay, took part in a live event and webinar sponsored by the ABA Young Lawyers Division, "Litigation Tool Tips: A Holistic Approach to Litigation Technology."
The technology enabled practice of litigation
Mastery of the facts and story enable teams to handle complex litigation. It is essential to understand how each document, filing, and event plays into the larger strategy.
Technology has given litigators new and better ways to work, automating tedious tasks, making information more accessible, and even bringing the power of AI to once specialized tasks. Because these tools are often built with specific tasks in mind, however, they can segment workflows and create silos of information, breaking up a litigator's focus.
This ABA free webinar brought together three lawyers turned legal tech founders to discuss the challenges of modern litigation and to demonstrate how their specialized tools can work together to streamline a litigator's workflow.
Leading the discussion, Bob Ambrogi emphasized his belief that litigators can find greater success in their case by using tools in an integrated and holistic way.
Bringing together a litigator's workflow
The founders on the panel all come from legal backgrounds and seek to address different challenges in litigation. Together they walked through a real-life scenario of how their three tools, PacerPro, Allegory, and Casetext, could be used in tandem. Providing a topical analysis, they highlighted a hypothetical use-case of the team representing the City of San Francisco in their Sanctuary City suit against President Donald Trump.
Gavin McGrane of PacerPro began the panels' demo with a workflow initiated by a notice of electronic filing sent from the court. These emails contain a general description of what was filed and typically come with a hyperlink allowing a one-time download of the document for free. When PacerPro is added to the court's distribution list, their system will automatically pull this document and share it with the specified case team, or even push it to systems like Allegory.
As McGrane explained:
"You're automatically able to review the document in real-time. We've seen this to be a tremendous benefit to our clients... Particularly from the associate's standpoint, what will often happen is you may not initially be included on this distribution list from the court. Something will happen, and people will ask "What's your take on it?" With PacerPro, you now have the document in hand. "
With access to documents, teams have the opportunity to review and understand what's happening. Allegory's Alma Asay explained how context is added to the document once a team begins working on it in Allegory.
Within the Allegory workspace, attorneys see not only the filing but links to all relevant exhibits. Instead of working with one-off PDFs isolated on their local or shared drives, working in Allegory allows litigators to automatically share notes and annotations. This enables collaborators to skim through just the salient parts of the case to get up to speed, or to look back and quickly extract key information.
In Asay's words:
"Allegory is all about not just summarizing or tagging a 100-page document, but drilling down into what specifically about it is important, and being able to add notes and tag specific pieces of text."
Moving to another phase of litigation, Jake Heller demonstrated how an attorney might then use Casetext to conduct research. In seconds, Casetext's Case Analysis Research Assistant (CARA) could generate all of the cases relevant to the brief but not yet cited. Through this, attorneys get a more nuanced understanding and also gain the upper hand on opposing counsel by seeing what might have been strategically left out of opposing counsel's brief.
As Heller summarized:
"Being able to just drag and drop a document and have this AI legal research assistant read it and come back with suggestions - what might have been hours of research is brought down to a matter of seconds, and the possibility that you might have missed out on an important case is diminished greatly."
Building better tools through integration and collaboration
While the webinar's aim was to assist practicing litigators, it was also an opportunity for technologists to discuss and explore potential opportunities.
Moderator Bob Ambrogi asked Asay and Heller about the potential benefits of more fully integrating their tools, something they both expressed enthusiasm for.
Asay noted that research need not be limited to briefs:
"A lot of the time when people think about legal research, they're thinking about briefs filed to the court that have formal citations, but a lot of memos are circulated internally or to the client. It's easy to forget those even exist."
Instead of digging for half-remembered memos and correspondence, the ability to send Allegory files to CARA for mining could be an exciting opportunity to leverage additional value from work product.
Technology as an aid to best practice
Following their demonstration, the panel took questions from the audience. One question received an especially enthusiastic answer from the panel: how litigation technology can assist lawyers without much experience practicing litigation.
McGrane discussed using their tools in an educational context: because any document added to PacerPro becomes freely available in real-time, students could follow a case and practice responding to motions or orders from the court. In fact, PacerPro is exploring this opportunity to work with professors of legal writing at Berkeley Law.
For Asay, this question gets to the heart of how Allegory was designed:
"I love that question. One of the driving forces for me when building Allegory was this idea that there are all these young associates who don't come in knowing how to practice litigation. You are taught certain things in law school that are very valuable to being a lawyer, but on the ground nuts and bolts of practicing litigation isn't one of those things. Our mission, in part, is building a tool which makes best practices the easiest practices. Where simply by using the tool you're learning to do things the right way. Using picklists, and having the judges rules in front of you - when I didn't even know there were rules! Things like our witness page can almost be used as a checklist."
Heller commented that these technologies were built with years of litigation experience behind them and take a view on the best way to do things. With the help of these tools, young associates don't need to go through the same struggle and are in a better place on day one.
In the context of research, he hit upon a very real pain:
"For young associates especially (or for young and old associates alike, the young ones are just more willing to admit it...), they ask themselves, how do I know when my research is done?"
A tool like CARA can act as a guide and safeguard. When a brief put through CARA comes up with a number of results, it can be a learning moment that prompts an attorney to revisit their research and dig deeper. On the other hand, if CARA turns up results the attorney is already familiar with or that are less core to the case, that can provide some assurance that the research already conducted has been sufficiently thorough.
A complete toolset for litigation
By using technology, litigators can practice more efficiently and effectively. Litigation tools which work together can automate time-consuming manual tasks and take some of the guesswork out of
As Heller exclaimed:
"I'm sad that I'm no longer a litigator because I don't get to use all of these awesome tools! It's a great time to be in litigation."
We want to thank the ABA Young Lawyers Division for sponsoring this webinar and, Perkins Coie San Francisco for hosting the live event. Thanks to Bob Ambrogi, Jake Heller, and Gavin McGrane for a wonderful conversation, and thanks to all participants - both at the event and online.