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Thanks for joining me Alvin, this was all very informative.
A mature cloud-based document management platform treats files as intellectual assets for future discoverability. The goal is to transparently capture, profile, full-text index, entity extract, clause extract, risk detect, and ontologically classify documents and seamlessly access them in the future.

To fully answer your question and back-up our statement above, let’s look at five areas of NetDocuments differentiation:

1. If the goal is to seamlessly capture work to be used as future precedent, NetDocuments can do so transparently and invisibly with our Invisible Document Management concept. Regardless of a preferred user environment, NetDocuments is present: In NetDocuments terminology, if the user is working in a browser, the work is captured via ndWeb. If the user is working in Microsoft Office or Acrobat, the work is captured via ndOffice. If the user is working with emails in Outlook, the work is captured by ndMail. If the user is working in a mobile device, the work is captured by the NetDocuments iOS or Android apps. NetDocuments even has a built-in integration into Office-365, where, like One Drive, NetDocuments cloud services are built-in as a cloud storage provider for Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. If the goal is to seamlessly capture work to be used as future precedent, NetDocuments can do so transparently and invisibly, even including offline access with NetDocuments file and device synchronization technology, ndSync™. Our high levels of adoption and low churn (both into the high 90%) are indication of usage across mediums and work styles of today’s legal professionals.

2. Emails of course are also a rich source of intellectual assets for future precedence. NetDocuments recently released ndMail, predictive technology which seamlessly will profile an email and its attachments by analyzing available information and predicting the client, matter, and folder where it belongs. ndMail technology is based on machine learning and crowd predictions, from the previous corpus of similar digital files associated with a client and matter, and heuristically predicts the best possible matches for future reference.

3. While all other major DMS providers have recently announced new full-text search technologies, NetDocuments has deployed its Solr-based ndSearch for seven years with billions of documents under management. The result is a robust search technology which won’t slow down under high-volume and deploys auto self-remediation during times of stress. This is extremely hard to accomplish and takes years of fine-tuning before it becomes battled-hardened for knowledge management.

4. The full-text index can be greatly fine-tuned and enhanced as a knowledge management tool if it is also an entity extractor in addition to just plain indexer. KM must treat document text as “things” not “strings.” If the entities contained in documents, emails, and discussions threads can be identified as people’s names, companies, dates, financial amounts, titles, locations, and Personal Identifiable Information (PII), then the document contents would be elevated as relevant knowledge and managed as such, instead of just simple texts. Precedent accessibility is greatly enhanced if documents can be associated with its entities.

5. Another NetDocument’s initiative is the deployment of an AI marketplace where multiple machine learning vendors can apply their heuristics technologies against NetDocuments contents, without moving the documents out of the secure repository. NetDocuments acknowledges that no single vendor in AI technology can capture the overall breadth and depth of machine learning functionality. Recently we have seen an explosion of good vendors doing contract analytics, clause extraction, M&A due diligence, litigation prediction, and other forms of AI. Some of these technologies can be very valuable for KM and precedent identification. NetDocuments exposes documents into the ever-growing AI marketplace which already includes a growing list of vendors such as Kira Systems and others.

In summary, a proper content management infrastructure for precedent identification requires multiple approaches within the platform. These include: invisible document capture in every environment chosen by the user, for managing all relevant documents; intelligent predictive profiling, for ease of metadata creation and retrieval; a robust battled-hardened index and search technology enhanced with the ability to identify entities (things) not just text; a KM infrastructure with its specific global cabinet, future document redactor, and ontology classification; and an AI marketplace where machine learning technologies from multiple leading legal AI vendors can be applied to the repository.

Law Firms began moving to the cloud in earnest in recent years. Driving this migration are: (1) risk mitigation such as security and cryptography; (2) battled-hardened cloud technology and its multi-tenancy capabilities; (3) invisibility and transparency of the application layer, supporting all critical OS, collaboration and teamwork; (4) governance technologies (data classification, data loss prevention, dual custody cryptography, geo-aware storage); and (5) knowledge management. While migration has been focused in the past on only pioneering firms, it is now happening within to the early majority phase.
We have to constantly stay on top of these issues and anticipate where the legal case teams that we serve may encounter thorny challenges. As a large, global service provider we are exposed to a broad variety of issues, often at the cutting edge of technology and the law. We leverage this experience by continually refining our best practices that, in turn, benefit our entire client base. This requires a huge commitment in investments in employee training programs, R&D in both the technology tools that we use and the ESI content itself, and actively participating in industry standards groups and educational conferences.
Tom, that's great to hear and something I will keep a close eye on going forward as well!


Thanks again for joining me, it's been a lot of fun.
I wish our execution was flawless and the answer was "no," but the hard lessons usually lead to the most effective changes. Our hard lesson arrived when we assumed our eDiscovery workflow would translate to the contract management workflow. While there are some similarities between the two, we learned that they are apples and oranges. Particularly in the triage stage, the approach to training the software and the review team is unique. After seeing inefficiencies and lower-than-expected throughput, we had to pivot towards a more effective strategy. The result is a unique workflow that relies on consistent input from the lawyers, the technology and reviewers all collaborating throughout the process to get the best results.

I have to ask -- any "hard lessons learned" that you can share?

Thanks David, this has been fun!

I do agree with your and Casey’s assessment. Technology, when properly deployed is a value add to the delivery of legal services. In my mind, AI (and many other technologies) only enhance the critical thinking, mental agility, and ability to synthesize complex inputs of lawyers thus making them ever more critical to the goals of delivering efficient and effective legal services.


Law firms must continue to play a critical role in the deployment of legal technology not only because clients are demanding it, but because ever growing business complexity does as well. Legal service is about legal advice and established methods to provision that advice. The key here however, is not to deploy technology for technology sake but rather to lead in its development, deployment and scale. Baker McKenzie continues to lead as a technology driven firm across many practice areas and disciplines because of our commitment to those ideas but also because of our commitment to be “demand driven” rather than “supply driven” with our clients. We continue to have our clients provide insight, input and influence over new technologies and ask them to meet us at the intersection of law and technology to help us evolve and enhance these capabilities.