What's new

Law Has A Data Problem!

How a Bulldog Trial Lawyer and a Brilliant Data Scientist are teaming up with IBM Watson to pioneer the field of Law & Data Science and restore affordable justice for everyday Americans

By John H. Snyder, Esq. and Mac Macartney

We live in an era of declining civic institutions. The source of the problem is obvious— accelerating technological progress has outrun our institutions’ ability to adapt and scale. Solving this problem across many domains is our generation’s defining challenge.

Our civic institutions—our legal system, banking system, media system, education system—all operate based on models developed in the Age of Manufacturing. Technology advances have pervasively altered these institutions’ fundamental task. The response has been incremental, piecemeal, and inadequate.

Agnes Intelligence seeks to understand civic institutions from the standpoint of (1) what function does it serve? and, (2) how well does it serve it? If the answer is “not well,” there may well be a need for a system-wide reboot. How do we use human brains for problems that humans are good at solving? How do we automate the tasks that humans are bad at? What are the limits beyond which systems will not scale properly? What institutional roadblocks halt improvement? How do we navigate around them? How do we blast through them? Today’s political and cultural clashes might be remembered, with cooler heads, as a predictable result of a game gone out-of-balance. Put another way, a matrix of incentive structures that couldn’t scale—for whatever reasons (archaic rules, fiefdoms, corruption, tech-phobia, failure of creativity, diffusion of authority, technology-by-committee, attrition of creative thinkers, failure to take data seriously).

The answer lies not in ideology but in a renewed and intense focus on restoring institutional competency and accountability in a massive-data environment.

Agnes Intelligence began as partnership between a data scientist and a trial lawyer. We chose to tackle law’s biggest problem: eDiscovery and the horrendous costs inflicted on litigants. We began breaking down the problem, mapping it out, finding the pain points and irrationalities. We concluded today’s legal process is fundamentally a data science problem. The legal profession must look outside the classic lawyer toolbox.

The technologists and the lawyers need to talk.

Through extensive discussions over many months, we worked in parallel to craft both a technology and a set of Modified Procedures that—when used together—can greatly reduce the cost of bringing a case to trial. We imagine this technology calling forth a renaissance in the art of trial advocacy. We want to make litigation feasible again for ordinary Americans.

Agnes Intelligence partnered with IBM Watson to build the next-generation eDiscovery technology that uses concept clustering, natural language processing, and blockchain. These are all integrated into a workflow designed by a trial lawyer as the most efficient possible method for boiling down terabytes of data into the 50 or 100 items that are actually important—in the least burdensome way possible. The last great revolution in American legal procedure was started in 1906 by Roscoe Pound and came to fruition in 1938 with the adoption of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Federal Rules served admirably for decades but have not scaled to meet the challenge of Massive Data era.

The technologists and the lawyers need to talk.

Roscoe Pound’s revolution was the merger of substantive and procedural law. Our generation’s challenge is to merge procedure and data science.

We don’t have 32 years to figure this out. Agnes Intelligence has designed a “model” system of dispute resolution that will enable ordinary people to access justice at a reasonable price. This is done not by limiting eDiscovery, but by creating tools to make eDiscovery radically more efficient through application of IBM Watson’s “Cloud AI” systems.

Equality before the law is the cornerstone of America’s experiment in democracy and self-governance. Today’s extreme costs have made justice all but impossible for the middle class to obtain. The halls of justice, it is said, are open to anyone… in the same way the Ritz-Carlton is. This is not healthy or sustainable. Our Federal Rules of Civil Procedure state, in Rule 1, that every dispute should be handled in a just, speedy, inexpensive fashion. Citizens have a right to expect that. The legal profession has a responsibility to provide that. Agnes Intelligence, with the support of IBM Watson, is building the tools to make it possible.

For more information, register for the on-demand webinar!

John H. Snyder is a trial lawyer who understands the litigation game and has committed to changing it for the better through the integration of data science tools and civil procedure rules. John is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Brown University.

Mac Macartney is a technologist with 30 years’ experience, including the past two decades focused on machine learning, concept clustering, connector frameworks and data mining. He is a graduate of LaSalle University.

Global Business Manager, IBM Partners

More What's new stories

IBM Partners: Success Stories

The saying “Nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM” is one that I often hear. Enterprises trust IBM and independent software vendors prefer to partner with IBM because they can build differentiated, commercially viable solutions when using IBM technology. There are many IBM Partners who have built successful businesses by both leveraging IBM technology and […]

Continue reading

Your Choice to Grow with IBM Partners

Every day, you make choices. You choose the language needed to build your solution. You choose the platform which suits your hosting and deployment needs. You choose how your business grows. Recently, we announced a collaboration with Google Cloud and the open source community to provide developers with a new choice between serverless and container […]

Continue reading