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Investors Finally Warm Up to Legal Tech

Two months plus $200 million equals one sea change.

That's the math for a notable shift in legal tech. In the past two months, investors have poured in almost $200 million to legal tech startups.

It hasn't always been that way. In fact, last year startups were at a 30-year low. So what happened?

It may be hard to believe, but the future is now. Thanks to the futuristic world we live in, our clients can be faced with damning evidence that was generated via automation or artificial intelligence. Soon, prosecutors may be asking the robot gardener what happened?

What's worse is that the systems that generate the evidence are prohibitively expensive to forensically examine. And let's be real, the custodian of records that gets called to testify to admit the evidence will likely be as unhelpful a witness as they come. Upping the ante, federal litigators are getting trained to use this type of evidence as a sword in both criminal and civil litigation.

So, how do you rebut seemingly unflinchingly credible robot generated evidence?

When seeking out electronic data, litigators need to be aware of the various places that relevant data, especially other electronic communications, may be stored. When it comes to ediscovery, there's more than just email.

In addition to email communications, when litigating against a business entity, there are likely to be instant messaging platforms, as well as internal and external social media communications, not to mention raw data on employment, finances, and other trackable metrics. Many businesses these days are using instant messaging communication tools, like the popular app Slack, and other tech that allows employees at various levels to communicate information, which can all be a well-stocked pond ripe for a fishing expedition. Some businesses may even have tech that helps them track all their data.

Uber Quickly Settles Self-Driving Car Death

The settlement in the Uber self-driving car case is confidential, but it still says a lot about how to settle a high-profile case.

In the big picture, it isn't so much about the money. Of course, money is almost always the currency of civil settlements.

But settling a high-profile case for a company like Uber is more about moving on. It's the main thing the parties have in common.

Law Firms Need Your Expertise to Make AI Tools Work

Robots may be casting a shadow over law jobs, but they are also opening doors at law firms.

Legal tech positions -- such as chief innovation officer, legal solutions architect and chief data scientist -- are in demand. BigLaw, in particular, needs people to make the tech work.

It's no secret that those tech workers have an advantage if they also know the law. The big surprise, for some, is that the robots actually need help.

There's no denying that we live in a digital world. For attorneys, the digital world has definitely provided some real conveniences. Digital projectors have replaced poster boards and easels, smartphones have revolutionized calendaring, digital filing is amazing, and the widespread adoption of email was absolutely game changing.

But, along with the conveniences technology brings, some attorney jobs have gone the way of the dodo bird thanks to new developments. AI programs are starting to not only do the job that an attorney or paralegal would, the AI is doing it better, faster, and more efficiently than any human lawyer ever could.

Fortunately, for most lawyers out there, your jobs are currently safe, but that might not be the case in a decade.

At this point, nearly every attorney out there has received a flash drive or CD/DVD-ROM filled with files in response to a request for production. These days, document productions are even exchanged via email.

While most of the time, getting discovery in electronic format is convenient for everyone, some ediscovery, like an image of a hard-drive for a consumer electronic device, like an iPhone, can be thousands of pages long and contain pages upon pages of incomprehensible gibberish. Reviewing all that raw data might seem like a waste of lawyer time, but can you, in good conscious, never even open the file before assigning a support staff to review, or sending it out? Do you really need to review the raw ediscovery, or can you just wait for the summary report?

Legal Tech Helps Sort Through JFK Files

Legal tech is helping to solve the Kennedy Assassination.

Wait, what? Isn't everybody old enough to pull the trigger in 1963 dead already?

Seriously, the JFK assassination is like the oldest conspiracy case since Elvis didn't die. But new tech is digging it up again, and you can blame the lawyers.

A recent AP story details some facts that appear to be particularly troubling for Georgia's Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, as he faces a lawsuit over the state's last two elections. Complicating the lawsuit, the state's main election servers have been deleted and completely wiped clean of any and all data.

The deletions came at rather suspect times, with the first server being deleted just days after the lawsuit was filed, and two others being scrubbed about a month later. In either case, it would seem that the state should have known better than to allow the servers to be scrubbed. Fortunately for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, and the state and Kemp, the FBI had made a digital image of the servers before the lawsuit was ever even filed, and will provide a copy of their copy upon being provided with a proper request from the parties or court.

When it comes to wrongful convictions, usually it's the Innocence Project making headlines. However, it was recently announced that a joint project by the ABA Center for Innovation and the makers of the popular ediscovery software, Relativity, will be helping to stop and fight wrongful convictions.

The project is called DFENDR, which stands for Distributed Forensic Expert Network Delegating Review. Basically, Relativity has set up an ediscovery platform to allow for remote expert review of forensic evidence in potential wrongful conviction cases. Yes, that's a whole lot to unpack.