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Innovation

DESH 3: Smart Legal Tech on your Wrist
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Awhile ago I wrote that I did not belief 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 belief 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: its 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 straight forward 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 calendar.

*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.

5 Confessions of a Trackaholic
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On Sunday, February 22, at precisely 16:44, my Fitbit Flex stopped syncing with my iPhone. I just finished 20 minutes on my elliptical trainer and I was feverishly waiting for my workout to appear…I realized I was shackled and gripped by the fear of losing my metrics. These stats made me healthy and happy so I didn’t want to let go…but should I?

 Fear Zero

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I was a pack-a-day smoker until one Wednesday, after recovering from yet another flu, I decided to quit. I wanted to see how long I could go without smoking a cigarette. Since my brain was a bit preoccupied suppressing nicotine urges I decided to ‘outsource’ keeping track of time to a robot.

Smoke Free keeps track of several metrics, but the most important one for me was: Time. I started with seconds, then minutes which turned into hours, days and weeks. With each new record, my fear grew that these stats would return to zero. That fear kept me going.

Most champions agree: retaining a crown is very different than winning it the first time.

What I learned: my most powerful motivator was not the excitement of achieving a new record but rather the fear of losing my stats.

Meanwhile, another war was raging in my body: Fat. I ballooned to a panda-like 84 kilos. According to every app I used to calculate this I was obese. Then I met this wonderful person who told me a little secret: You can eat whatever you desired and still lose weight…Wow! It’s incredible! I was super excited I found salvation and consciously downplayed what came after…by counting Calories.

Diet Disillusionment

 

tr3I set out to find the perfect robot to help with this minor calorie caveat. Myfitnesspal was the best because it did 3 things right:

  • Have a rich database including some obscure Suriname dishes
  • Was supported by a wide range of apps and services i.e. Argus,Runtastic’s Six Pack andPush Ups;
  • Most importantly: they did not hold my data hostage by playing nice with others.

Now everyone warned me it was a bad idea to quit smoking and diet at the same time but in hindsight, it was brilliant. I was literally consumed by thoughts of food for months while battling a nicotine addiction. Under duress, my brain couldn’t multi-thread and was forced to pick a craving. Each time it picked food over cigarettes.

What I learned: Hunger trumps nicotine hands down.

Calorie Cap

 

tr4I hit my goal of 75 kilo in 6 months -losing over 7 kilos in the process by trying to stick to 1470 calories-a-day.

While April- June were pretty tough, I caught a wave in July and headed for a race to the bottom.

Here’s when Fitbit entered my life and gave me a much-needed boost.

I couldn’t stay under 1470 unless I burned more calories. However, I couldn’t precisely track how much I burned with just my iPhone motion tracking. I simply didn’t have it on me all the time.

With Fitbit Flex, I was able to literally track myself 24–7. Without a heart rate monitor, it’s not as accurate but at least it gave me some guidance on burn rate.

Ultimately, it wasn’t the fact that I kept count which helped me achieve these changes but the fact that I had to transform my life to do it. Not only with my nutritional choices, but my approach to life changed. I learned to get comfortable with continuous disruptions of my routines.

What I learned: Hacking Habits should be your habit as well. Dare to try something different every now and then.

Sleep Debt

 

tr5After conquering my demons (or perhaps just silencing them), I turned my focus on perhaps the darkest frontier in tracking: Sleep.

Raising babies reminded me how vital a good night’s sleep is. Better yet, sleep deprivation is equal to waterboarding in terms of effective torture techniques.

I set out to find a method to properly measure my body’s battery levels. I foundSleepdebt to be a simple and straightforward way to accomplish this.

Sleepdebt uses the Fitbit API to pull in your numbers and calculate your charge in terms of time.

However, adding this minor metric to my arsenal of stats finally made me come undone. It meant wearing my Fitbit Flex to bed…shackled in my sleep.

I never wore a watch. My dear old Dad, God rest his soul, always insisted I wear one but Imay never yield. Yet I wore this wristband while asleep so I would not be a grumpy jerk while awake. After 131 days of sleeping with Flex, on February 22, I was finally set free.

What I learned: I’m much happier being Untethered

Unshackled

tr6In writing this article, I made some discoveries:

  • Counting calories actually taught me about nutrition i.e. what to eat and how much;
  • My data is dispersed and siloed across the web, but that’s adifferent agony;
  • Freedom encourages -not inhibits- my discipline.

In my pursuit of self-improvement, I discovered what metrics really matter to me and how I can measure it.

Build, Measure, Learn is not only the cornerstone of any lean startup but eventually for any lean life. We are Born and then we’ll Measure and Learn to stay Lean.

This post was originally posted by Legal Complex on Medium.

Five Stages Lawyers Need To Embrace In a World of Robots
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The Kübler-Ross model describes the five emotional stages experienced when faced with impending death or death of someone. The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Similarly, change is an irreversible and unapologetic event. Here are 5 alternate stages for legal professionals to help navigate change in the legal market.

1. Acceptance
In Suriname, a mourning process is accelerated by having a party during and after the burial. It is believed that one should celebrate death. This is taken literally as coffin bearers joyfully dance with the deceased until they reach the final resting place.

Legal professionals aren’t shy about adopting new technology. Just look at smartphone and tablet adoption rates among lawyers in the past 4 years. I believe the pager, cell phone, and blackberry enjoyed similar successes.

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5-3However, adoption is not the acceptance of a new reality. The technology examples above just empowered existing workflows; it did not fundamentally change the dynamics of the marketplace. Technology like smartphones, just enabled lawyers to communicate more efficiently not necessarily differently.

We are now in the midst of a revolution whereby the core value of a legal professional(providing legal counsel) is shifting towards platforms, algorithms and data (Robolaw).

It’s not a faster way of drafting an agreement, it’s accepting the fact that you do not ever need to draft one.

Acceptance of the new reality should be a feast: a celebration of the fact that thetedious & repetitive have died and made way for the joy in legal work.

2. Trust
My faith in technology is derived from a belief that it has saved my life. Yet faith alone may not suffice in winning the hearts and minds of legal professionals. We’ll need evidence that robots can do a better job before we trust them.

Proof is mounting that platforms (crowdsourcing) and algorithms outperform humans in predicting legal outcomes. However it’s not like IBM’s Watson has already passed the multistate bar exam and is now a licensed attorney.

Legal work isn’t a chess match or an equation, but a complex nuanced construct of emotions in text. And herein lies the problem: the sheer amount of ambiguous texts.

 

5-4Due to data overload, it has become humanly impossible to find justice without the assistance of algorithms.

With Predictive Coding we have effectively conceded that the days of manually reading through stacks of documents have come to pass.

Trust in technology can be derived from either faith or evidence. However, in trusting legal technology, we may have already passed the luxury stage and ventured into necessity. Ultimately, we may not have a choice but to trust robots.

3. Mobility
I read this inspiring story: ‘Barefoot’ Lawyers Teach Ugandans Their Rights.’ It seems 97% of lawyers serve a population of 2 million people within the capital. The remaining 3% are left to serve a population of around 36 million in the rest of Uganda. In order to alleviate the travel burden covering an area of 241,038 square km, Ugandan lawyer, Gerald Abila, uses volunteers and a range of technologies like social media to educate and provide legal advice.

I’ll compliment Gerald on embracing technology to bridge the gap and his story highlights a fundamental principle about legal work: it is most effective if served in person. Mobility is the cornerstone of the legal profession. It is one of the main drivers of technology adoption among legal professionals.

If only the mobile tools were as good on the road as they are at home. I have dedicated most my writing in the last 4 years on this subject. I even went as far as to declare the death of legal research on desktop. I believe the cause of this imbalance has many factors. A root cause may also lie in the very nature of legal professionals (see stage 5).

4. Simplicity
#Robolaw: A World Without Law elaborates on the necessity of simplicity. Driven by the rise of digital currencies, the world is moving towards a frictionless reality – one where simplicity is handsomely rewarded and complexity is not welcome.

Yet, any legal framework is built upon barriers. The law revolves around setting rules and exceptions. Its goal is to avert risk and minimize misunderstandings. It is there to protect us from ourselves.

Nevertheless, legal products, and services need to become as clear and simple as a hand Shake. Actually, it may become invisible, even in the event of disputes. This future is more likely to happen if we let robots do the negotiations and dispute resolutions- just like we will trust them to drive our cars. We may only need a notification or a glance.

5. Adventurous
In the search for simplicity, one characteristic will truly serve us: experimentation. There are penalties for failure in every profession; in some the consequences are far more severe than others. However, I believe this new era is giving us a license to try new stuff. This era of relentless change has set us free from a stigma of dumb and has opened a world of daring.

One time a customer, a jetsetting lawyer, had an extreme request. He wanted me to create a product only he would use, custom made and tailored to his needs. I told him I could not because I couldn’t justify the costs versus return. I stated that if we had more customers like him I may be able to justify it. He said, “No, I hope there aren’t any. I want to be unique and my calling card is using these special tools.”

By now, you may have guessed what he asked for. He was clearly a risk taker and dared to be different.

My best friend and godfather to my youngest is a physician. He’s my reminder: I am allowed to dare & fail. Some really do not have that luxury.

Seymour: Maybe I Was Wrong About Legal Wearables
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Maybe I was wrong about wearables because I needed to go beyond my comfort zone to see what’s around the bend. I too easily settled for limits. Seymour is the project name for one of the ideas that took shape during the Innovation Tournament and while it’s a technical challenge, it may not be entirely without merit and here’s why.

Business Intake made Easy 

I once attended an Intellectual Property audit for a niche software company to support their Intellectual Asset Management. We had an extensive paper questionnaire and preparation meeting to ensure our visit would be fruitful. The goal was to get as much of the questions answered without making the client feel like it’s an inquisition. When we arrived, it was a bit chaotic and nobody managed to get all the answers. We left with boxes of documents to help us finalize the form.

Modern day logic would dictate we would need some kind of database for the intake. Even better if it was a mobile app with just a checklist and we could divide the load across the team during our visit. It would help if we already had information pre-populated and we just needed to fill in the blanks. Looks good on ‘paper,’ right?

Well I believe in the last decade, our process thinking has resulted in convoluted systems. We used the wishful add-on: “it should be easy to use and intuitive” like a sprinkle of angel dust to make the core product usable. Assuming the core product, the database, iswhat it is all about. No, it isn’t because nobody can use an empty database or worse – outdated data. So the time of laborious data entries should be in our past.

Seymour, See, Save, Share

I suspect wearables will play a major role in this space. Wearables will be the fastest way to grow any database simply because data entry will be more convenient. Forbes reported this as the first useful Glassware and seeing their video, you might agree:

“Sullivan Solar Power …developed a Google Glass app that gives its field technicians “volumes” of electrical system data in a hands’ free, or close to it, manner—which I would imagine to be a welcome delivery mode for someone wrestling with heavy equipment on a rooftop.”

Being fed real-time contextual information in situations where it’s slightly awkward to break out the laptop and do desktop legal research seems extremely powerful. Only consuming information might not make it ‘killer’ for me but if you can combine it with creation it will be close. A quote from this Glass wearing president and creative director:

“…The thing I use it for the most is taking notes. I tap it and say, “Take a note,” and then a microphone shows up and it will accurately dictate everything I say for about 30 seconds. And then when I stop talking it sends it to Evernote. At the same time, if someone else is using Evernote, they can send the note to me and it will appear in my screen.”

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First Look: Evernote for Google Glass

This maybe farfetched, but the possibilities of having a checklist as Glassware and just ‘nodding’ off the list would be quite cool. Better yet, just tapping your wrist will be even cooler:

Tick off checklists for groceries with the Pebble, which syncs to Evernote, for a hands-free shopping experience. Evernote Reminders are supported, so you’ll always have your notifications and to-dos close to you.

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Evernote on the Go: Introducing Evernote for Pebble

If we just infuse the right legal context into these workflows, we can even make legal research fun again. Shopping for groceries is not that different from shopping for Intellectual Property, it can only be made more pleasant by the tools we use.

Going off the grid

There was one little caveat with wearables, actually any internet connected device: its needs an internet connection. Well maybe not. Let me introduce you to “Wireless Mesh Networking.” This enables device to device communication in a free-form, non-internet dependent way. And that’s almost perfect for having wearables talk to our phone – or each other. It’s one of the best kept secrets in the latest iOS 7 and what Google is betting on to extent wearables and even home automation.

Last year I just had a name and a notion. Now it’s slowly making sense and Seymour is my reminder to keep going beyond the bend.