Like most of us in e-discovery, I got my start in art school. That is, I fell into it. Certain paths crossed, opportunities arose, and, well, this kid sitting next to me in my home office doesn’t pay for himself.
Still, even if we arrive by accident, this glamorous world of RegEx and analytics isn’t for everyone. Whether you come to this industry with a BFA, a JD, or a PhD, you stay here because you’re curious. Because you like to solve problems. (Maybe a little bit because you have three kids.)
And you probably like people. The folks I’ve met while working at Relativity, whether in the hallways of our HQ or the conference rooms of our customers or a tradeshow floor, are great people. Humble and smart; observant and down-to-earth. Maybe a little geeky. (Raises hand.) They’re people on the rise.
As our world of RegEx and analytics makes room for engineering prompts for ever-larger language models, the people who raise a hand to help are the curious folks who like to solve problems. Who maybe-do, maybe-don't know how to adapt proven workflows to new technologies but are intrepid enough to give it a try. To figure it out. To shine a light.
And shining a light—being brilliant—is what we celebrate when we honor those e-discovery practitioners in our AI Visionaries program.
A Moment of Reflection
To quote a reliable source, AI Visionaries is “an annual list that recognizes and celebrates individuals who have explored, promoted, or experimented with AI in novel ways in legal applications.”
This year we celebrate 20 professionals from around the globe. They stand out for their advocacy of and action on artificial intelligence and its potential to improve the substance of their work and the value their firms provide to their clients. And, along the way, they manage to find the fun in it.
“I'm hoping to use [AI] as a platform to start to showcase all of the cool things we have at our fingertips now, and the value there,” says Chris Acosta, director of e-discovery resources at Morrison & Foerster and a 2024 AI Visionary. “I'm excited to see the new things coming about and how we can leverage those in our practices.”
And while AI is changing the way we work, it’s not always about “disruption.” We celebrate the adapters and the adopters. Malik Kheribeche, director of forensic advisory at Deloitte and 2024 AI Visionary admitted, “I've been doing the same work for 10 years—but I've been doing it very differently. Adaptivity is key, and resilience. And convincing people that we’re applying new technologies for the greater good, and with a purpose.”
In our interviews with the 2024 AI Visionaries, a common theme emerged: one of reflection. Reflection in the sense of deep thinking—self-awareness and a knowledge of one’s place in a vast and dynamic landscape. And reflection as the projection of that knowledge back outward—something to reference, to look up to.
“I feel like we're just scratching the surface of what's possible in this next phase of legal operations,” says Léo Murgel, SVP and COO of legal and corporate affairs at Salesforce. “It's not just about efficiency, but improving the outcome of work that's done in our space in a really positive way.”
Those actions and these attitudes are core to what we celebrate at AI Visionaries and in the Relativity community.
A Luminous Community
The AI Visionaries program is a testament to the power of this community. It creates an environment where challenges are met not with trepidation but with collective problem-solving and innovation. For Relativity, our community isn't just an audience; it's a co-creator in the journey of redefining legal technology.
I plagiarized the paragraph above from ChatGPT ... or maybe from myself if you think about it too hard. But I like Chat's sentiment that our community—our AI Visionaries, you—are half of what this technology is all about. After all, we aren’t making Relativity aiR just because we can. When we learn from our users, when we involve them in a journey of learning and discovery, we can create great things in a responsible way. Things that help our users advise their clients in novel, defensible ways.
“AI exists and cannot be un-invented,” says Jonathan Prideaux, the head of applied legal technology at King & Wood Mallesons. “Look at it in the same way as any other new tech over the last 30 years. Imagine if you had not adopted email or mobile devices. It is okay to be cautious, but you can’t ignore it.”
And while talk about hallucinations is plentiful, there’s another story about the potential for AI—responsibly built and judiciously applied—to get us closer to the facts.
Chief data scientist and partner at DLA Piper, Bennett Borden, told us, “My interest in AI is based on my interest in truth. AI fundamentally gets to an answer more accurately, fairly, and efficiently than humans can do, if done properly.”
And Aurelie Jacquet, of the Scale Think Tank at the UNSW AI Institute, picked apart some sagging tropes, noting that, “We still have this conversation where ‘AI is good’ or ‘AI is bad.’ But I think AI is what we make it. AI is a great tool as long as you know how to use it.”
A Moment of Refraction
AI Visionaries reflect. They think deeply. Their actions are representative of leadership in a critical period of technical and cultural change. They also refract: they bend that energy in new directions. AI Visionaries don’t just adjust to new technologies; they make those technologies work for their missions. And that takes a certain vision.
“The idea that ethics for AI is new—something completely new—is a bit of a myth,” says Aurelie. “Equity, fairness; lawyers are very good at this and are well positioned to learn and help organizations understand their responsibilities.”
Whether it’s new or newly top-of-mind, how our community uses technology to discover the truth, to maintain the rule of law, is a practice that continues to inspire us and guide the development of our products and programs like AI Visionaries.
These are interesting times. The practice of law, the truth encoded in a billion different data points, the artificial intelligence that can reveal it ... for those with a vision of how these concepts combine and complement each other, the future certainly is bright.
“For the first time, there is a technology breakthrough that has lawyers excited about using AI,” says Nicola Shaver, CEO and founder of Legaltech Hub. “This is a great time to work at the intersection of technology and the law.”
That’s a reflection we in this business can see ourselves in, regardless of how we got here.