desh

DESH 3: Smart Legal Tech on your Wrist
DESH 3: Smart Legal Tech on your Wrist 1024 576 Raymond Blijd

A while ago I wrote that I did not believe in legal technology on your wrist. I changed my mind shortly thereafter but I was haunted by my wavering because: how would it work?

DESH

DESH debuted on June 17, 2013, in “DESH: Your Personal Legal Assistant with Sense.” The idea: a robot that ‘reads’ your legal matter and assists in making intelligent decisions. It was inspired by the rise of personal assistants such as Google Now and Mynd. Google Now tells me if I would encounter traffic wherever I am. Mynd calculates my travel time and notifies me when I should leave for my next appointment. Both need little configuration and run invisibly in the background. I envisioned DESH to do the same for your legal activity.

 

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Loupe (prequel)

DESH actually originated from an earlier concept called Loupe. While DESH is a front-end, Loupe would be the backend. Loupe is a concept whereby the (search) engine would convert any information into a  legal context query. For example, if Loupe recognized an amount or a date it would check the meaning within a specific legal domain. Similar to how Wolfram Alpha calculates data within a certain domain. Loupe rules would be:

“ 10 million” in Competition Law → Cartels = fine

“ 10 million” in Competition Law → Merger = Acquisition Price

DESH (sequel)

In “Seymour: Maybe I Was Wrong About Legal Wearables” I realized why wearables would be especially significant for legal professionals: mobility. I believe legal counsels, like physicians, would travel from client to client with little or no time to pause and do stationary PC work. However, pride prevented me from reducing DESH to a mundane calendar app. I needed it to be this intelligent decision-making machine.

 

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DESH (today)

Compromise: it’s both. Rational: if it were a smartphone app with more screen real estate it would make sense to have it do a lot of fancy #Robolaw. But on your wrist is a different story. While mobile is the starting point, providing simple straightforward data is the max on a ‘watch.’ Apple encourages “light interaction” and describes these as “glances.”

How it works

  1. Launch the app to ‘glance’ your legal activity progress*;
  2. Turn the dial or swipe up to reveal your legal activity in a calendar item.

*News is approx 75% read, Cases read at 30%, Contract drafting is at 15%. That’s it. Does this make any sense?

This article first appeared on Medium.

Meet Bondrew: Our Future ‘Freestyle’ Lawyer
Meet Bondrew: Our Future ‘Freestyle’ Lawyer 1024 518 Raymond Blijd

Freestyle Chess is a competition between humans, who are allowed, like in correspondence chess, to make use of any technical support for selecting their moves. Basically it’s an interplay between human intuition and computer calculating power to arrive at the best course of action. What if we had such advance algorithms similar to the chess paradigm, how would these system assist lawyers in picking legal strategies? And who would likely use them?

Freestyle
I’ve always been intrigued by the question how lawyers would use technology in the future. This interesting view of the future which mentioned the freestyle chess analogy reminded me once again: the future is already here, it’s just in camouflage. But to really understand the future of the legal profession I’d first needed a profile of a human (Who) using this advance technology and then look at the technology (What). I’ll will restrain myself predicting When this might happen.

Bondrew
Bondrew grew up somewhere in South America and has traveled the world. He is still always on the go and has never touched a desktop computer or worked in a traditional office. He received his law degree while attending an Technology & Law e-Curriculumof two years by following courses via MOOC* on his smartphone. He has never met his professors in person, yet managed to graduated “top of his class”. He majored in Advance Legal Networking which teaches the ability to leverage technology, peers, digital and tangible sources for legal solutions. He also passed the Litigation Predictions Bar** which automatically makes him eligible to litigate in all online jurisdictions***.

Future
He is not a lawyer in the traditional sense by any stretch but a trader and trafficker of legal information, in short a law information broker in a modern sense. He is adept at leveraging sources for information with technology and thus adds value to his legal practice. He’s able to scan the legal needs, deficiencies and risks of his clients and propose solutions in a matter of milliseconds. By continuously running simulations andquantitative analysis on different legal scenarios, he is able to adapt, predict and communicate his legal support in real time to clients.

Tools
Now if this is a possible future, which tools would he need? I’m hoping he would use the following:

  1. Zepp to network and connect legal sources to legal needs,
  2. Desh to update his legal practice and documents,
  3. Monocle for researching purposes,
  4. im·merse to assist with scanning and intake of new clients and predicting outcomes.

I’m wondering what Bondrew does in his spare time because he spends just 28 hours a week managing and growing his practice…

*A massive open online course (MOOC) is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. MIT, Stanford among many other esteem universities around world deliver them. read more here: http://www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses

**Litigation Predictions Bar: by running digital simulations on actual and anticipated opposing counsel arguments one can predict in a non-jury civil law system, possible outcomes. It is a technique of preventing litigation and refining agreements. However, similar to chess, you’re also able to run actual litigation proceedings and be judged or settle them.

***I admit, it’s easy to fantasize about ODR but as a recovering lawyer it’s still hard to imagine a border less legal market.

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CYOS Divergence: How The Growth of Apps Bolsters The Complex
CYOS Divergence: How The Growth of Apps Bolsters The Complex 570 274 Raymond Blijd
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has taken root. In 2012, 38% of CIO’s expected to support personal devices. Now 82% of companies allow it and it’s posing new challenges for IT because along with these devices come a lot of new services in apps. All beguile you into accepting a new habit and immerse you. This has giving rise to the ‘Connect Your Own Service’ (CYOS) trend and its unintended consequences: a world more complex and disconnected which threatens to submerge you. Here’s why:

A Fog of Apps 
A glimpse into my computer life 2007-2013 :

  • I have downloaded over 900 apps in 6 years, a trend likely to accelerate due to the lowering prices of apps. Imagine doing this on a PC without running into a nasty virus and a tremendous bill.
  • I have journeyed through multiple operating systems and migrated from desktop to mobile.
  • I have moved most of my information into the cloud and choose software based on their cloud support and mobile clone.
  • I took approximately 7800 pictures and videos. The only category my wife beats me hands down.
  • Privately I’ve stop emailing anyone under the age of 70 and
  • I have shared more with my inner circle between the ages 14 and 70 than at any moment in our lives.

I have undoubtedly generated more data personally and professionally and…it’s liberating yet suffocating.

Say my name!
Each app or service I use will most likely ask me who I am. I will either have to remember my name(?!) from a previous encounter or make up a new and even sillier name. And then comes the dreaded password requirement which needs to be so strong its impossible to remember. I know there’s an app for that but my parents already gave me a name at birth and happily counted 10 little passwords. One company has smartly recognized this fact and hopefully I’ll try it this Christmas. Even though it isn’t infallible and can be hacked by my 4 year old, it’s far better than remembering 900 passcodes which are unbreakable with brute force attacks by global distributed networks. As beautifully presented in this dynamic visualization I suspect no company will ever be entirely safe from breaches.

A Forest of Data
Now the above doesn’t bother me as much as the disconnect between these services by creating silos. In previous posts I’ve mentioned losing information much to my chagrin. I’m already working on solving the bridge of cut, copy and paste and integrating tasks in a single workflow. But ultimately my aim is to dwindle the number of 900 apps. The disparate manner and ambition each service exhibit to solve my problem while struggling to incorporate my larger environment concerns me. Because I find they mostly ignore the context and intent I might have in harvesting and handling all my data and associated analytics.

If This Then What?
This problem has not gone unnoticed nor unexploited by others as even legal professionals have wandered into the cloud with Dropbox (58%), Google Docs (43%) and Evernote (23%). This is also reflected in their use of popular productivity mobile apps. However, these services only store my information but do not connect to my workflow. Moreover, they most likely ignore the intent of legal professionals. Now in order to get a handle on this divergence I starting mapping out my own information network and how it all connects based on how I use it. And then visualized my intent as a legal professional.

 

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Nowadays most services support some connections while some purposely block each other. I used RSS trickery or just simply emailing the service to connect my information. Lately I’m able to use smarter services that ‘cook up’ better connections. IFTTT is such a service which use “recipes” to help me reconnect. Even notable publishers like the NY Times have been getting in on the action. Its getting better but its less than ideal so my search continues.

 

cyos2As featured in DESH I would imagine creating rules such as: IF I receive news on Copyright Transfers I would

  • THEN save it to Monocle OR
  • THEN add a reminder in Zepp to email my client. OR
  • THEN update documents.

 

cyos3I have spend the first 26 years of my life learning, I’ve noticed spending the rest struggling to keep up with all I have learned. The internet serves to be an engine of convenience by connecting not diverging and we should continue to support that goal.

DESH: Your Personal Legal Assistant with Sense
DESH: Your Personal Legal Assistant with Sense 570 287 Raymond Blijd
Lately, I’ve been intrigue by the sudden urgency from developers to solve the “big” problem of email. A rush to be your personal assistant and to make your lives easier. Moreover to anticipate your every move and predict your need. I thought I might as well take a stab at it and create my own rendition with a legal twist. In the process I learned a couple of things.

 

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First Search, Then Filters, Now Sense
I’ve already delved into the philosophy of filters as opposed to just search. Since then I noticed a shift. First, we started using computers in different environments and under more natural conditions. We no longer are in a seated position behind a desk in a building…and our computers know that. We also interact differently with computers by using less peripherals like a mouse or stylus and more gestures and touch. In some cases the software we use personally is more advanced that what we use professionally. All this has generated an explosion of data about us as human beings being at work or at play. And our computer can sense this also. This presentation illustrate this transition in the devices we use.

Who Am I
I have always wondered: was the information I needed in the places I was looking for it? However, in this new reality I can reverse the question and ask: why hasn’t the information come looking for me? My smartphone changes time automatically when I cross time zones. It can tell me where and what to eat (based on ratings) wherever I am. I figured that if my phone is that smart, surely it can tell me whenever I’m providing sufficient legal counsel for my clients. At the very least it can anticipate if I would commit a legal error. We are not there yet but a small step in that direction is the concept below.

DESH
This concept explores the question what services we can provide with all the data a user has generated. How can we honestly and transparently transform this data into a benefit for the user. Going back to my lawyering days I remembered this: whenever there was a law change or new jurisprudence, I needed to track down each contract or brief I had ever written for each client and update it. Moreover, it was paramount I did not miss the announcement in the first place. Nothing is more embarrassing to a legal professional than when they are being updated by their clients on legal changes.

Basically DESH is a dashboard for keeping you abreast and updating you on any developments that matter to you based on your data. It senses if changes needed to be made on any of your documents and will make intelligent suggestions – not based on ratings but based on legal premises and personal preferences. The simple UI is simulating 4 basic workflows: messaging, tasks, current awareness, and drafting. The aim is to be straightforward and the goal is to be convenient. Can it be done? Yes, and we are going to do it.

 

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Legal Research On Your Television Screen
Legal Research On Your Television Screen 1024 586 Raymond Blijd
A quiet Sunday morning, I’m channel surfing on my big screen when I come across an enticing teaser on the Wolters Kluwer Channel. I carrousel through the Health and Tax panels and select Legal. I start reading the news articles and a particular phrase intrigues me. I spread my arms to zoom in and make a left to right swiping gesture in the air to select it…

Dominator

Now this is not the opening to my upcoming Sci-Fi drama but rather an imminent reality. At the end of 2011, there were 82 million connected TVs in homes worldwide according to research group Informa. By 2016 it forecasts that number will have ballooned to 892 million. I also predict Smart TV’s will be into corporate offices quicker than you can spell: iPad. At Wolters Kluwer’s HQ in Alphen a/d Rijn, Netherlands, you are greeted by the latest news displayed on a large screen in the lobby. These are scattered around the building and in board rooms. The fact is, the TV screen still dominates and it will continue to do so by convergence with the web.

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Domesticated

Actually, my first web-like experience coming to Europe was ‘surfing’ TeleText pages on my TV. I still use it occasionally for looking up flight status from my comfortable couch at home. And it’s not just flight status lookups but also legal research that is being domesticated. While doing year stats analysis on research portals, I discovered that engagement peaks during weekends with hours instead of minutes spent on the site. Imagine you could utilize the biggest screen (TV) in your home for research. It’s the same argument why you would use your smallest screen (Smartphone) for quick lookups.

Dipping toes

Natural interfaces such as the touch on Apple’s mobile devices or motion on Microsoft Kinect are slowly replacing mouse and keyboard. I wouldn’t go as far as using my eyes to control the screen but I think it isn’t farfetched that a minority report style of an interface will enter our television sets. And some in legal technology have already been wondering when it will appear for legal research. Traditional print publishers are already dipping their toes on Apple TV, Google TV or Roku.

In the end, the trick is not looking objectively at what’s happening now but intuitively at what will happen. More after the break…

Call My Agent: Evolution In Information Retrieval
Call My Agent: Evolution In Information Retrieval 772 457 Raymond Blijd
 It is known by many names: OffspringMagnets, Filters, Bloodhounds  but in theory they can also be called: Agents. My definition: An intelligent application that basically goes and fetches ‘your’ information without you re-entering a query at every instance. Undoubtedly there are other more scientific explanations but for argument’s sake we’ll keep it simple and stick to this one. Now, how can agents make our lives more pleasant?

 

You’ve got Mail!
The first ‘agent’ I used online were email newsletters. If an interesting site had the option to subscribe to an email newsletter it gave me two features in exchange for my email address and exposed preference:

  1. I did not need to visit the site to get the latest information;
  2. By popping up in my inbox, it was a reminder that this source existed.

More advanced email delivery systems gave you more flexibility in delivery times or topics to choose from and the more advanced sites gave you more sources. Yet, not all sites had these options so I moved on.

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Blowing the Pipe
With the rise of R.S.S. (Really Simple Syndication) feeds also came more creative features to play with. As with email one could subscribe to a site and use a separate application (RSS Reader) to receive the information. Yahoo Pipes – An interactive feed aggregator and manipulator- gave me the extraordinary ability to, “rewire the web”. For example, one of my favorite pipes was created right after the launch of the first iPhone. It used several online feed sources and persistent searches to scour information on the iPhone. If a site did not provide a feed I could always create one for it by using a web scraper.

While it all started out nicely, information overload crept in really fast. By using services like Postrank to prefilter my feeds based on popularity I was trying to stem the tide. By using trends and suggestions instead of Pipes in Google Reader I was also encouraging serendipity.

Back to Basics
Twitter, Friendfeed ,and Facebook added a new dimension to this overload fire I was fueling. Especially FriendFeed was menacing in its torrent of good information. By piling on filters on feeds I think I’ve managed the problem. My latest darling filter isSummify iPhone app. It summarizes and reduces my Google Reader 78 feeds and Twitter 226 friends to 10 story-links every 8 hours, depending on my settings.

Looking at this from another angle I think I have subconsciously created a personalized newspaper edited by humans and machines alike. Yet, I feel like I’m still missing some things in terms of relevancy, quality, and serendipity. Moreover, in the real world, I’m still pleasantly surprised by learning new stuff from friends and colleagues at the water cooler. It’s also scary to realize that speed will increasingly become more important. The earlier we know something the better prepared we can be and you might even be able to predict the future.

I think the web has evolved enough for us start rekindling this notion of agents. My dream is to have an intelligent agent which can rummage the web and alerts my friends in the real world to provide me with relevant information based on my profile. In real time or at predetermined times based on the substance of the information and the impact on my live and work.

More importantly, I hope that the web and my friends also know that I’m available to share, just ring my agent.