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Joe Borstein and Gary Sangha screencaps
Joe Borstein screencap
Gary Sangha screencap
Joe Borstein C’02, L’05 and Gary Sangha L’03 during the Reimagining Legal Technology webinar in August 2020.
The Fears and Fallacies of Legal Technology
At the Reimagining Legal Technology webinar Joe Borstein C’02, L’05 and Gary Sangha L’03 drew on their extensive experience to make a persuasive case for the swift adoption of new tools in the practice of law, which they said will improve the delivery of legal services and ultimately benefit lawyers.

Joe Borstein is a leader in the area of alternative legal services, spending nearly a decade building the brand of one of the world’s largest providers of such services, Pangea3, which counseled Fortune 500 companies and AmLaw firms on how to leverage legal technology and globalized services to improve efficiency, increase work quality and reduce costs. He served as Director of Innovation at Thompson Reuters and writes a column on emerging trends in legal technology for Above the Law. Borstein is a member of the Advisory Board of the Future of the Profession Initiative at the Law School.

Gary Sangha is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of LexCheck, which is using artificial intelligence to help businesses more quickly review and negotiate contracts. Prior to starting LexCheck, Sangha founded Intelligize, an information services company that helps business professionals more easily research regulatory filings. Intelligize was one of the fastest growing legal technology companies in the US. Sangha has taught at the Law School and serves as a Fellow at the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics.

In a breakout session following the webinar, we asked Sangha and Borstein to assess both the current state of and the possibilities for legal technology.

Why has the legal profession been so slow in some quarters to adopt legal technology?
Gary Sangha — There are myriad reasons. People feel that they are not incentivized to adopt technology. And people are fearful that technology will take away work. If you’re in a law firm environment, technology is a capital investment. And what incentive does someone have to make investments if they’re not lifers at the firm? Also, there’s a fear of technology. The thought is that my work is so high-end that no way a machine can even touch it and no way I’m even going to give it a chance.

Joe Borstein — No. 1, a culture of precedents. Remember, we are taught as lawyers stare decisis. You are supposed to do what’s been done before. The fear of doing new things is something unique to the legal industry. Most lawyers think if you’re doing something that is not the practice of law, it is somehow less prestigious.

Why is it important to embrace the technology and how will the lawyers of tomorrow benefit from the use of new tools?
Sangha — You’re never worse off by embracing productivity tools, as long as the price is right. I rarely meet corporate lawyers that have too much time to perform a task. There is so much work that needs to be done. Can you even imagine going back to a time when you’d have to review all this paperwork manually? You just couldn’t do it.

Borstein — Imagine a small pharmaceutical company wants to sue a big drug company for patent infringement but the cost of bringing the suit, five to ten million dollars, matches the potential recovery. The case will never be brought. If technology such as predictive coding and predictive analytics brings the cost down to one to two million dollars, you have a positive expected outcome. By bringing down the cost of prosecution, you’ve created a valid claim, you’ve created work on both sides, and you’ve grown the pie.

Is the fear that automation will displace some lawyers unwarranted?
Sangha — Lawyers as a profession, no. In terms of automating certain tasks, clearly. Remember, lawyers aren’t just robots. There’s a human component in legal services. But there are certainly low-value, marginal repetitive tasks that tech can probably do better.

Borstein — I think it’s going to change what lawyers do. Document review is a great example. In my last year practicing I was working on a case with about ten million documents and over one million third party subpoenas. I spent all of my time managing teams, doing triage. Now a lot of that work can be done with technology and globalized services. Will automation net take away work? I actually don’t think so. What we’ve seen in the last ten years is as automation has grown and globalization has grown, law firms have grown as well.

What role will technology play in closing the justice gap?
Sangha — I read about these tragedies where people can’t get their pleas right and people not getting bail just because they don’t even know how to do the process. From a technology standpoint there’s so much that can be done. The problem is how do you get people incentivized to do something. For guys like Joe and myself, we could do something, but as technology vendors and developers, the economics are not there.

Borstein — A lot of the access to justice issues come from an extremely complicated court system in which there is not a free market like there is in the private sector. Very few people stand to gain through technological advancement in the government sector. It has to be a much bigger priority for the government than it is now.

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