Man, this news about ReedSmith’s work with DolphinSearch (where, oh where, did spaces in company names go?) is just so exciting on so many levels:
Byte and Switch has a story this morning on ComplianSeek with more about the genesis and particulars of the technology (Dolphins Aid Compliance): “DolphinSearch is the brainchild of a Berkeley PhD, Herbert L. Roitblat, who started the firm in 1999. Dr. Roitblat aimed to commercialize his patented technology (U.S. Patent No. 6,189,002), which is based in part on neural networking techniques derived from research on dolphins’ echo-based communication.” (Though I’m fairly certain you don’t need to hire Bud or Sandy to interpret the results.) The article also touches on my firm’s contributions: “ReedSmith helped DolphinSearch design ComplianSeek to look for the ‘right stuff’ in emails. This doesn’t mean keywords, but instead certain patterns, word associations, lingo, or subtler forms of reference to investment activity.” [Bag and Baggage]
I’ve written about the billable hour business model a number of times, most notably here back in 2002. One quote from that post in particular stands out in light of ReedSmith’s announcement:
If the finding of the information could be improved, then the lawyers could free up time to focus on the stuff that matters: synthesizing the information that they find and strategizing about how it applies to the client.
In the end, synthesis is impossible until you have all the information. Today’s practice ends up devoting an inordinate amount of time to the discovery of information – to the detriment of the real valuable role a lawyer brings. If I’m the client, I want the lawyer thinking, not looking.
This is a terrific step forward — kudos to the team at ReedSmith for making the leap.