Among the hundreds of great new legal tech available in recent years, Clearbrief stands near the top. Jackie Schafer, a former big-law and state attorney general who had a vision of attorneys and their staff working more effectively and efficiently, designed an app that lives right in your Microsoft Word. Clearbrief lets you upload your case file to it so you can ask it questions: “When did the defendant first get notice of plaintiff’s claim?” “Where is the evidence of defendant’s bad faith?” “What are the plaintiff’s expert’s opinions?” Clearbrief will take you directly to the page and line of the document that supports your facts.
And its new timeline feature is a game-changer: feed Clearbrief a pile of documents with unorganized facts, and it will give you a chart showing the timeline of relevant events, complete with hyperlinks showing the page and line for each.
Judges are now using Clearbrief to write their opinions.
And did you know? Legal-writing guru Bryan Garner was Clearbrief’s first angel investor.
The California Appellate Law Podcast thanks Casetext for sponsoring the podcast. Listeners receive a discount on Casetext Basic Research at casetext.com/CALP. The co-hosts, Jeff and Tim, were also invited to try Casetext’s newest technology, CoCounsel, the world’s first AI legal assistant. You can discover CoCounsel for yourself with a demo and free trial at casetext.com/CoCounsel.
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Welcome to the California appellate podcast, a discussion of timely trial tips and the latest cases and news coming from the California Court of Appeal, and the California Supreme Court. And now your hosts, Tim Kowal and Jeff Lewis.
Jeff Lewis 0:17
Welcome, everyone. I am Jeff Lewis.
Tim Kowal 0:19
And I'm Tim Kowal both Jeff and I are certified appellate specialist. And as uncertified podcast co hosts we try to bring our audience of trial attorneys and appellate attorney some legal news and perspectives they can use in their practice. As always, we're grateful if you refer this podcast to a colleague if you find it helpful. And before
Jeff Lewis 0:37
we jump into this week's discussion and interview we want to thank casetext for sponsoring our podcast casetext is a legal technology company that has developed AI backed tools to help lawyers practice more efficiently since 2013. Casetext relied upon by 10,000 firms nationwide from solo practitioners to amlaw 200 firms and in house legal departments. In March 2023. Casetext launch co counsel, the world's first AI legal assistant co counsel produces results lawyers can rely on for professional use all while maintaining security and privacy. listeners of the podcast enjoy a special discount on casetext basic research at casetext.com/calp casetext.com/C A L P.
Tim Kowal 1:16
Well, Jeff and speaking of legal Tech, we are pleased to bring on Jackie Shaffer to the show today Jackie is the founder of clear brief and AI legal tech tool that attorneys need to have in their lives. We'll be talking about that today. First, a little bit about Jackie Jackie is a 2008 graduate of Boston University Law School she began her career as a litigation associate at the New York law firm of Paul Weiss, and spent the majority of her career as an assistant attorney general in the Washington and Alaska Attorney General's Offices where she specialized in appellate practice and complex litigation. More recently, she is the founder and CEO of clear brief, a legal technology startup that that Jeff and I have covered here on the podcast at times in the past, Jackie was named to the American Bar Association's 2022 Women of legal tech list, the 2022 Fast case 50 and honoring innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders in law. And also she received the 2021, Washington State Bar Apex award for legal innovation for founding clear brief. Jackie, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for joining us today.
Jacqueline Schafer 2:22
Thank you so much. I am a huge fan of the podcast. So this is super cool for me. Thanks for having me on.
Tim Kowal 2:29
Well, it's great to have you on. I know Jeff is a big fan of clear brief, a user clear brief, I have been admiring it at a distance in awe. We'll talk a little bit later about how even though I'm a big fan of legal Tech, I get a little bit of anxiety with all the big surge in legal tech. And I fear that I know myself, Jackie, I know that if I started adopting all these legal texts, I will fidget with them endlessly and never get any billable work done, even though they would enable me to do so much more billable work, I need to wrap my head around how they can best helped me to do better at what I do as an attorney. So maybe we can talk about that. But before we jump into the magic of clear brief, tell us a little bit about the road you took from a litigator into a legal tech startup
Jacqueline Schafer 3:12
store. Um, I think it's funny because as litigators, you know, what we do a lot of the time is we get assigned a case, and it can be in a totally sort of random subject area. And we just become, you know, experts and sort of learning about that. So, we all have the capacity to, you know, sort of learn new new areas. And so that's where I sort of found myself, really, when I was in house counsel for a national nonprofit back in, you know, this was around 2019, I started really advising the data scientists at this nonprofit. And I started, you know, in order to give better legal advice, right, like learning about AI and learning about natural language processing. And I got really intrigued about how it connected back to some of the issues that I had worked on, as an appellate litigator around, you know, the data that informs child welfare cases and ended up writing a law review article about that, that was published in 2020. And again, in writing a lot of the article, I started learning about all these, you know, cutting edge ways that AI was being used in the private sector,
Tim Kowal 4:16
right, what what time period was this, Jackie?
Jacqueline Schafer 4:19
So the I was writing this in, like, 2019, and my larvae article got published in 2020. Okay, and yeah, and that was really what kicked off, I think, my true gut intuition that AI was going to transform the way that we all work. And so that's when I decided to, you know, start my company, and you know, it was actually right before COVID Hit that I fully took the leap, started the company and it turned out to be kind of an interesting time, though. Because, right when you're getting started, you're trying to connect with potential customers and get their feedback and building the product. And everybody was at home just like, you know, okay, I'll do a zoom call. draft, you know what? Sure. So I was able to connect with a lot of different people and get their feedback early on. And because I knew that as a practitioner as a litigator, the problems were not solved around briefing and writing. And even though some investors early on were like, oh, like, you know, the big dogs already handled everything there, you know, you're wasting your time. I was like, No, I have conviction in this, because I know that, you know, when I sit down to do a table of authorities, it's still just like, sucking away most of my day, like, I don't care what you're telling me that tools are available, like they're not accessible. They don't do it the way that I want it to be, which is very quick and instantaneously. So anyway, that's just sort of the example of, you know, that journey. And one other fun fact that will probably appeal to the listeners, the Appel listeners was, I sort of got in my mind, like, who would be like my dream investors for this. And I've always admired you know, Brian Garner, you know, his books on legal writing are just like my Bible, you know, as as a litigator. And so I reached out to him on LinkedIn, again, this was during the pandemic, and he actually responded. He thought my idea made total sense. This was the idea for a table of authorities. Well, no, it was the idea for that was just like, sort of one of the aspects of using AI to help with several different aspects of the writing process. But the core idea which is still in the product today is to compare be able to see all the sources and give your your citations a score compared to how what you wrote in your document. And yeah, it resonated with him. And he was one of my, you know, earliest angel investors. And so I found myself trying to, like explain to venture capitalists and like Brian garter. Like, they're like,
Tim Kowal 6:46
yeah, that is a huge vote of approval. Right? Yeah. Well, let me
Jeff Lewis 6:50
ask Jackie, yeah. Let me ask you, Jackie, in terms of access to justice, was there any experience as a litigator that you had that motivated you to develop the these tools?
Jacqueline Schafer 7:02
Yeah, absolutely. So this was another big, you know, experience that shaped my desire to start a company was I was working around that same time that I was, you know, learning about data science, I was doing a pro bono asylum case, and I was representing a woman and her toddler. And I had actually never handled an asylum case before. And we got down to this final hearing, I had written a, you know, 50, page brief, had all these, you know, declarations and evidence and exhibits, and pretty much from the moment we stepped in to that final hearing, I felt like, the judge was just obviously irritated at my client, and just kind of making statements that as a practitioner, you're just like, Okay, we're gonna lose, this is bad, you know, the vibes were off. And I was, you know, I felt horrible, because if we lost, basically, you know, they would be sent back to their home country and likely murdered. So it was like, extremely high stakes situation. So I was able, though, to point the judge to some of the underlying evidence, the declarations that I had submitted in support of, you know, the brief, and I saw the judge, you know, sort of flip through that, and reading that evidence was what changed his mind. And he believed my client, you didn't believe her, even though she was right there in front of them. He didn't believe me, he really what he believed was the evidence. And so giving him that visibility to see the sources. I mean, they were like, you know, print it out. It just happened, you know, that that worked out, and we won, and he granted them asylum. And so it was, it was a really amazing experience. But I felt like that was some inexperience I'd had at other points in my career as as an appellate litigator, where the court also they, they want to feel confident that they're making the right decision. So you need to give them something to show them to hang their hat on, that they can viscerally experience. And so that turned into one of the core features of clear brief, which is that you can very easily hyperlink your writing, so that the work you do and the front end to find the evidence, it may make it simple for the judge to see that and give them confidence that everything that you're saying is supported by the record.
Jeff Lewis 9:10
You know, I follow Ernie, the attorney who talks about legal technology, one of his big principles is and by the way, that's where I think I met you as an attorney, the attorney event, and one of his big principles in terms of adopting tech is finding things that reduce or eliminate friction. And I found clear brief, when the end, at least the end product certainly reduces friction in terms of clicking and everything, and there's very limited friction in terms of the use of the product. So you're to be commended. You pass the Ernie, the attorney test, as far as I'm sorry, I could. Sorry, I cut you off. Go ahead.
Tim Kowal 9:45
Yeah. And to the point Jackie was making about the functionality and clear brief to enable attorneys to easily hyperlink your writing so that the reader can find the evidence easily, you know, it ties in Jeff to what we talked about that types of things we talked about so often in on this podcast are ways to get the evidence in front of the judge, you know, one of your favorites, for example is to put pictures in the brief or, you know, or to put snippets or, you know, screenshots of parts of the key language in the operative contract. And, you know, put that right into the brief. But imagine being able to do that with all of the key documents with every piece of evidence so that you are really showing and not just telling your factfinder that the judge what's going on in this case, you're not asking the judge to take my word for it. And you don't have to rely on all of the the traditional clunky things like, like, here's the really important stuff, see, I bolded, it, underlined it, and italicized it and put it in all caps. So you can't possibly ignore it. You know, you just put in a hyperlink, one of the things I wanted to ask you, Jackie, is, how receptive are judges to this tool of being so imagine you're, you know, for the for the listener, that the the end product that ClearBridge is going to help produce for you is a brief that it takes your normal brief, but it's going to put a hyperlink to all of your your exhibits into it. So the judge can find it the normal way by going to the other document that has the declaration, and that attaches the document and you scroll down to page 872, or whatever it is, and find that, that two lines of relevant text, or you can just click the hyperlink in the brief, and it'll show up right next to where the judge is looking while reading your brief on on the computer and highlight the relevant language that you're talking about. So you can see oh, yeah, it really does say what the attorney told me it said, how receptive are judges to using this tool? Or are they you know, the attorneys are famously conservative in terms of that they don't want to see their cheese moved. So are you finding judges willing to use this new tool?
Jacqueline Schafer 11:45
Yeah, so the judges love receiving clear clear briefs, we can call on that. Which as you were saying, the end product of using clear brief in Word, the whole product AI is all delivered in Microsoft Word for the lawyer. That's how you create it. So you don't have to, you know, use different platform or anything, it's right there in Word. But the last step is you create almost like you can imagine, like a private website for your brief, where your brief is on the left. But every citation is hyperlinked, and when you click on it, the source shows up on the right hand side of that split screen. So there, the judge doesn't have to like click away, or open up a bunch of different tabs, they can keep reading right in the same spot. And so the judges love that they don't need a clear brief account, or anything like that to view clear brief. So it just makes it really seamless for them and their clerks. And we've had so many of our customers say, the judge actually wanted to know, like, can they get a subscription declared for the signs? And in fact, we have a growing number of judges that use clear wave and clerks across the country to write things
Jeff Lewis 12:52
interesting. But yeah, yeah, let me let me say that what you just said is such an important point, it bears repeating. Anybody can make a hyperlinked brief, where you click on a hyperlink, and it takes you away. To go to Westlaw or a piece of evidence, the key the magic of this product is having two windows split. And on the left side is the brief and on the right side is the sources. So you don't lose your place in the brief. It's dummy proof. It's just proof. You just click on these links and in the record scales, while the while the brief doesn't. Let me ask you a question, though, about ease and the receptivity of end users. During COVID, there was a high profile incident in Texas with a court system was infected with ransomware. And website for the courthouse had to be shut down for a couple of days. And there was a big impact. Are you finding anybody on the end user side, whether it's judges or clerks or the courts, IT professionals nervous about clicking on a brief they received from a complete stranger?
Jacqueline Schafer 13:54
Well, that's the way that clear brief is designed is so that it sort of builds trust into the process. So there's a few different ways you could deliver, you know, the hyperlinked version to the judge. So first is it's a PDF that you just download the PDF, and the hyperlinks are in there. So when you file it, you're, you know, filing it with your firm's name on it. And so they are able to can see where when they hover over, they can see where their hyperlink goes, they can Google clear brief and see all the awards we've won and everything and get that, you know, we haven't heard anybody being afraid of that. Okay. The other way that you can send it is you can create a link that you actually send, like, let's say you just want to file your brief, or you're in a jurisdiction that doesn't allow any hyperlinks in their filed versions. There's actually still some jurisdictions like that, but they still want hyperlinks. So what people do is they send a courtesy copy via email. So they email it to the judge. They they put a link there like here, this is a to your, you know, website and we have like a blurb that you know, you can send. So there's different ways to convey that trust to the judge. And it's always like, look, this is an option. If you want to see the sources side by side while you read and have an enjoyable life, you know, you can click, don't click, don't worry about it, but because we now have courts themselves that are, you know, using it to draft their opinions or using it to create, you know, their orders and find the evidence while they're ruling live from the bench, like it's definitely gained, you know, a level of acceptance among the courts. Okay,
Tim Kowal 15:34
good. All right. I think that's really unrealistic, that that judges are using clear brief as a tool to write their opinions. And in order for them to do that, are the judges asking the asking counsel to help them prepare the or to submit the exhibits into the or does, I suppose the judge probably has their clerk create the database for them?
Jacqueline Schafer 15:56
Yeah, if they have a clerk actually, we're very popular with, like administrative law judges and others who may not even have any support, they do everything. They're some of the hardest working people in our, our justice system. And so the judges can just drag in. So the way it works, just like for visually, I'll describe it to your listeners, your let's say you have an open Word document, any Word document, clear brief sits in your Home tab, and word has a little icon, you click on it, and it splits the screen in Word you sign in. And the first step is that you drag in and upload those PDFs. So for the judge would be like the parties briefs, the record, you know, whatever it is that they want to be able to search through very easily and cite to with transparency. And one of the cool things just for the practitioners, though, is that we also integrate with all different case management systems, including Clio, including iManage. Net docs, and we're ready to make some other announcements as well. We also integrate with relativity, so that you can go in copying those documents, right into clear brief. And by the way, when you copy them in, it automatically OCR those documents, it makes them text suitable. So that's really nice thing that is just a lot of case management systems when your opposing counsel sends you like pictures of the discovery or like, thanks for that, you know, and we've talked with paralegals who were like, Yeah, I keep my computer just open the whole day. And it's just OCR bring everything and it's like a huge task that they no longer have to do waste their time with, they just drag it into clear brief. We OCR for you, then as you write, you can use all of the AI features,
Jeff Lewis 17:36
and is one of the announcements you're getting ready to make is that have to do with a company called block that rhymes with block rocks? I don't even know what that is Dropbox integration?
Jacqueline Schafer 17:51
Oh, well, we have to talk about that offline. But I also just want to name a company blob rocks.
Jeff Lewis 17:59
That could be your next startup. All right, let's, let's take a step back. I do want to ask you a few questions about you and your background before you came up with clear brief. When you were a lowly appellate lawyer, and you were working on briefs, what was your favorite part of the job and your least favorite part of the job? And you're not allowed to say digging around the record looking for citations?
Jacqueline Schafer 18:23
Yeah, absolutely. So one of the things and that's why I feel like it's these things that you think back to in hindsight that other people said about you, right, that at the time you didn't think was that big of a deal. But I do remember people saying that I was good at telling the story. A lot of times, you know, I worked on when I was at the HHS Office, my practice errors and Indian law and like the state's relationship with tribes, and I worked on a lot of cases that were, you know, very sensitive, high profile cases for the state and to try to humanize the issue for both sides. I put a lot of time into telling the story and of the facts. And I did have people tell me like, yeah, you're really good at writing the facts section. And I didn't think anything, you know, I didn't think that was that amazing of a compliment. And, but I do think that really ends up, you know, being such a fun part of the brief. Because what happens is you start with just like literally what happened in the dates, and we're going to come come back to that whole concept later. But by the time you start analyzing the law, you realize, oh, I need to highlight certain facts here, because it's going to, you know, be like, you know, the gun in the first off goes after the gun and the first app goes off and the second, right, it's going to flag that for the judge later that they should pay attention to this fact, because it's going to, you know, relate back to, you know, the legal analysis in a compelling way. So that was definitely, you know, my favorite part in a way because I think it also allowed me to come up with the version of the story that I felt had the most integrity You know, again, like, I do feel like it was a challenge, sometimes representing the state in certain tribal welfare cases where maybe I didn't personally agree with, you know, the actions or things like that. But I could tell the story in a way that I felt was fair, and, you know, just helped us get to the right outcome. And I felt like that was a good use of my, my skills. The part I did not like, is I mean, I don't know how to get around this. But literally the table of authorities and just literally all the things that you have to do the day before something is due, and you want to keep editing your document. And that's when you get all the best insights, right? Like, you've maybe you've let it sit and marinate for a couple of days, and you come back and you read it, you're like, oh, I need to highlight this, I need to change that. But you have no time left at this point. And you have to, you know, when I was, you know, at the AGs office, in particular, you have, you know, very limited support staff. So you've got to make sure that you're not telling them last minute, you know, giving them drafts last minute to do a table of authorities, it could take an entire day. So that was the thing that I really, you know, hated that scramble, where you also worry that the final product, maybe there were some mistakes in there. And, you know, it's just so stressful.
Jeff Lewis 21:14
Yeah, yeah. Do you have any, you have any regrets about leaving behind the practice of law?
Jacqueline Schafer 21:19
I do. I mean, I love I love legal writing. And so I definitely, always like sort of think about how it'd be so great if I could, we could get to, you know, a point with the business where maybe I could work on some cases, and pro bono cases are on the side, but I am just so slammed as we're growing. But no, and I think what the fun thing, though, that I really appreciate about the being in this role, now as a founder, is that I get to meet with and talk with judges every day, I get to meet with and talk with lawyers, paralegals, you know, partners, all different people in different places across the country and different types of law firms. And it's so cool, I just love hearing about how, you know, their practice areas are so, you know, so different, so interesting. And it's almost like you get to be a fly on the wall for all these different amazing lawyers and legal professionals. Well, there's
Tim Kowal 22:11
old now you are part of a cadre of people who are fashioning, how we are going to practice law over the next generation? And what When did you see yourself? And how did? How did you come to see yourself in that role? Did you have a, you have a background in technology, when you when you started? decided you're gonna you're gonna found clear brief? Did you pull out a background in programming? Or do you just somehow know how to go to the right people to find out? You know, that it's going to be a word based app? Or, you know, why not a web based app or? or some other type of independent app? And how do you make those kinds of decisions?
Jacqueline Schafer 22:48
Yeah, great question. So no, I did not have any kind of like tech, you know, programmer background or anything like that. I do feel like though, I did get a little bit more of a deeper technical understanding of data science, which did really help in thinking through, you know, what AI is capable of that maxim of data science is garbage in, garbage out, right. So it's still applies. People still talk about that today, which is your training data is your data that you have is going to impact whatever sort of products you're trying to build, or, you know, whatever the output of the AI is, it all goes back to what data did you give it initially. So even just understanding the fundamentals of how data science works, that was something that I will say, I've developed an expertise in that over the years, starting with when I was like, I was saying, when I was advising the client, but I didn't have an engineering background. I think, you know, one of the things that I also did early on was a ton of networking, right? As I was getting my company started, so you meet different advisors, and different advisors are just helping you sort of along the way, learn what you need to know, you never learn everything that you need to know, just right from the beginning of that journey, you know, some of the things just like, I cannot even start to think about what's required for like series A when you're just starting out your company, so you just don't even know the slightest thing about it until I need to know. So one example, though, was one of my earliest advisors, was actually mark Britton, who is the founder of Avo. And he lives here in Seattle. And I think I had connected with someone who knew him and it was like, a third degree connection finally got intro to him. And the first thing he said to me was, like, look, everyone's always thinking that I want to invest in legal tech, he was really successful, you know, founder of auto, and, you know, that was a huge, you know, tech revolution in the last decade that impacted lawyers and legal marketing. He's like, I'd never invest in any tech companies, like, you know, legal tech, just, I'm just telling you that like, from the get go, I was like, okay, because, you know, I wasn't easily daunted. I think partly for being an appellate lawyer. You're just used to like, a harsh crowd, you know? Right. Oh, Yeah. So that that, you know, I was able to kind of share with him my vision for what I thought clear we could become. And he was like, alright, send me this, send me a pitch deck, send me this, and we'll talk and eventually, you know, over time I, you know, he got the conviction to, you know, help me kind of understand and advise me essentially as to how to create a better pitch deck. And then once we got some funding, I was able to hire Jose Souder, who's our CTO, who he was at Microsoft for like, 25 plus years building AI. He's amazing. He's the one who built the back end. And actually, the back end?
Jeff Lewis 25:36
Well, let me let me let me say, on behalf of all Mac owners there, thank you for not excluding us from the product. So so often, new legal tech products, exclude Mac users. So thank you for that.
Jacqueline Schafer 25:46
Are all Mac users actually, pretty much?
Jeff Lewis 25:50
Let me ask you this, my view from afar, after doing a number of these interviews with folks and legal technology is that the legal technology field seems to be dominated by men. Is that your experience? And did that present any challenges to you?
Jacqueline Schafer 26:04
Um, yes, that is also my experience. Yeah, definitely. I think, for sure I have, you know, stories that could curl your hair of the early days of, of getting this started, and just sort of the, just, you know, bad behavior, and just, you know, really rude things that people say and do that, or, you know, it, definitely, you have to get a thick skin like, really, really early on and just be like, I can handle these, like horrible insults. You know, kind of keep going. But I think a lot of people definitely like would be daunted by that. And that's what what is so unfortunate, because I think we probably lose a lot of people at that early stage where like, I think I have a good idea. You know, when you're first starting out, you don't know what you don't know. So yes, you might say some dumb things, you might be wrong about certain things. But if you have people, you know, if you're sort of talking to people in those early days, who are sensitive to that delicate seed, when an idea is first forming, it can really help you get to that next level. So I think that was, you know, that's what often I think, impacts a lot of female founders is that we get insulted, we get, you know, excluded from events, we get excluded from different things. And and it's very discouraging, but I would say, you know, at this point, yeah, there, it's, it's cool to see that now I am being, you know, invited to more panels and, and things like that, and, and, you know, recognized for the fact that, like, we've been thinking deeply about how AI can be safely and securely, you know, used in litigation for years now. So I think this latest wave of AI, we're seeing, you know, a lot of people thinking about how it can be applied in our profession. And so I just tried to, you know, make myself available. And I get pings a lot from women founders, diverse founders, who, who actually, just a lot of times, just say, I just want to say like, it's so cool to even see you out there as a founder, it really inspires me, I'm like, really? Okay, thanks. I'm glad. And so anyway, that's just one thing that even just being there, and, you know, staying in the conversation, I think does help people feel like they could be a part of this too. And then I also do try to, you know, make time to meet with, with other women founders who are just getting started and sort of thinking through, you know, they're starting a company,
Tim Kowal 28:21
you seem to have a unique perspective, Jackie, because you're, you're someone who is, you know, you're you're not a you know, like, it's not like you're a refugee from legal practice you you mentioned that you enjoyed practicing law. So it wasn't like you were looking at seeking asylum status from the daunting practice of law and you had to get out a lot of people. That's the story for a lot of people, they get into law, and they realize they, they realize it's not all it's cracked up to be, and it wasn't making them happy. You enjoyed the practice of law, but you still saw a need in legal tech, that was not an area that you that you had necessarily a background in, but you still had a passion to you saw things before everyone else saw them, you saw that there are tools that are yet to be developed, but that somehow you could develop them and it would it's turning out to change to disrupt the marketplace as the as the term goes, What accounts for that? How did you come to see that things could be done differently? Because these are the types of functions that that clear, brief handles like, you know, building a table of contents table of authorities, because that's something that that the the old world of law would just say, well just have the legal assistant do that. And and citing, you know, finding support for statements in the brief. Well, just just have the Associate Attorney do that. You know, there were ways that the legal industry had devised for handling the things that clear brief does, but you saw a different way of doing it. Why now and it was even before you mentioned it was it was before COVID. So it was before you know, at that point, no one had even heard of zoom. No one had heard of conducting remote meetings. So we were definitely not ready for a seismic shift at that point. So how did you come to see that there was the the legal industry was read Before these kinds of tools,
Jacqueline Schafer 30:01
yeah, I'm actually like thinking back in that time. So I think some of the things again, like just learning about data science and recognizing that there was a spark for me that I was like, I don't know why, but I just like find this really interesting. And I couldn't explain it to the point where, in my free time, I was, like, I want to write a law review article about this. And nobody was like, telling me to do that. And in fact, at my current, you know, at my job at the time, I was, you know, in house counsel, they were like, Don't do like, don't, we don't want to know, your opinions on technology, just focus on you know, this, and, but I sort of just was so fascinated by it. And so I think that could be, you know, takeaway two is just like, you know, look, listen to those instincts that you have, as a practitioner, that where you're just like, I'm so curious about this. I don't know why, but I can't stop thinking about how this could you know, how this could be used, how this could change things. But then I also did put in a lot of kind of very dry work. Like, now I'm speaking to the audience here, where, like, you're the one doing the grunt work. Yeah. Like, I was like, Okay, I'm going to learn about educate myself about AI. So I would say like, one of the things I remember that was also just one of those first steps that you take in the direction of the future is like, I'm gonna order this book that looks really boring. We ordered on Amazon, and it was an AI book that was about how AI had been applied in a different profession. And it ended up yeah, really also influencing my thinking there. And so just like sort of reading about AI, and then I joined different newsletters about AI, that were, again, like, nobody was asking me to do it, they did not think that I had any business being there. It was, if I ever tried to go to meetups and things, people were very condescending. What like I said, it was like very insulting experience. But I sort of just didn't care. Because it was it was so exciting to, you know, just be thinking about these possibilities. And then I also realized that I had a very unique perspective, because it wasn't like I just started practicing law five minutes ago, like this was something I knew a lot about, I knew a lot about writing how lawyers think I practiced in a few different settings. And I saw the same problem existed across those settings. And then I also had this insight at the time, I was working on a program with judges across the country. And I was hearing from the judges about how they were suffering, too, with with all the documents and not being able to get a clearer picture the facts before they had to rule on something. And it was all just sort of like synthesized for me like I think that this could help. And yeah, and honestly, it was just about sort of taking those little leaps, one at a time that gave me conviction to move forward. But it's something that we all have insights that we experienced at our job, and just in our day to day life. And if you put your full, you know, focus and energy on them, there's a lot you could accomplish. Right? Like, we put so much energy into our briefs and in our work. So save some of it to for your creative ideas, I guess is maybe something to think about.
Tim Kowal 32:59
Yeah, yeah. So you've created a piece of legal tech and clear brief that's going to make people make make attorneys more efficient with their time and develop even more effective briefs, because they're going to be hyperlinked and lead the judge and the in their law clerks directly to the evidence you want them to look at? What kind of resistance are you getting in selling this? I mean, seems like, you know, if I can make it, are you running up against the age old problem of selling efficiency tools to attorneys? What if I told you for a nominal price, I can make you twice as efficient with your time and the attorney says, Okay, well, what's in it for me? You know, we sell our time. And so making us more time efficient isn't as intuitive a selling point as someone might think it is. Are you encountering that kind of sticking point with attorneys, or was there something else?
Jacqueline Schafer 33:43
So that's really funny, I always get that question too, from venture capitalists, they they all think that that's a big problem with legal tech, that's helps people be more efficient. I have not actually found that to be the case. And this is something that I think is maybe an insight that because I'm actually talking with like the end users every day, and I do a lot of user feedback sessions. And there are just certain tasks that lawyers don't want to do, like, full stop, we don't want to do the table of authorities, I do not want to go open up 1000 PDFs and have to go use Ctrl F across them. Like I just don't want to do that. And so it's really not a question I don't think about, you know, making my life more organized and easier as a problem that Oh, no, I'm going to lose billable hours. Like to a certain point. I do think that what I tend to see though, is that the people who get excited about technology, they are simply they're not necessarily like reducing or the time that they're billing to their client, but it's more like okay, like what I just described you about getting my brief filed, I have, I'm going to spend, you know, X amount of hours on it, period, because I'm going to be working on it up until the deadline but I would prefer that that last day. I did not build that time just scrambling around with like the Table of authorities and the exhibits and, and other things, I would prefer that I continue to wordsmith and you know, put in those last minute insights that really do make a difference, and that my client is happy to pay for, you know, the product of my thinking over the last few weeks. So it's just when it comes down to like actually using it in reality, people realize, Oh, I'm not really necessarily billing less. It's really just using my billable time differently. However, I do think it just depends on your practice, if you are currently like billing the client for, you know, seven hours for a table of authorities, whatever, like the expectations of the client are changing. They don't want to pay for attorneys to build them for for attorney time to do that kind of thing. And so that, to me is like the bigger shift that's happened with AI and a legal profession is the clients are aware that you do not need to be doing this manually. And so I think it just behooves every lawyer to to think about, okay, how can we, you know, let's think about what we bill and how we're explaining the work that we do to the client. And, you know, technology is just a part of running your business in that way. Yeah.
Jeff Lewis 36:11
And let me ask you clearly have briefs been around for a while now. Have you heard any fun stories reported back to you in terms of somebody who went through, you know, a 5 million page record and found the smoking gun memo in 10 seconds? Any fun stories you want to share?
Jacqueline Schafer 36:25
Yeah, we hear so many stories like that, like, honestly, every week, we get really great feedback. So I'm trying to think like, there's been, you know, yeah, people who tell have told us in the last couple weeks, like I had this huge, massive record, it was going to take me all through the long weekend. And I use clear brief, it made it so much easier to immediately found, you know, the documents that I needed. We've had paralegals also tell us, you know, just we get just the most heartwarming, like messages from paralegals of like, this really saved me like, you know, thank you so much. Yeah, it's hard without like, you know, I don't want to reveal specific user names. But we do have on our website, some of the collections of quotes of people who have really, you know, appreciated the software.
Tim Kowal 37:13
The mechanism that allows users to do that is that it clearly connects with your case file. Basically, you're you upload the case file to clear beef, and then you can run searches of your case against clear brief. So what is the evidence that supports the, you know, the causation element of my tort claim? And it'll it'll, it'll come back, or you have to ask some more specific questions on that, I think but, but yeah, so
Jacqueline Schafer 37:33
actually, let me let me share a little about that. So we have a few different ways that you can basically use your writing as the starting point for your searches. So you can sort of write even a fact section from memory. And clear brief allows you to select any text in your facts section in the Word doc. And then you click our patented add fact cite button. And it will make a suggestion of like, well, here's some pages that could prove the idea in this sentence. And it ranks them in the order that it thinks, you know, most relevant to, you know, less relevant. And it allows you to just get this bird's eye view across all of those documents. And not only does it show you that page, it highlights the text on the page that seems you know, even why the AI is recommending that page. And then another way you can use this is just by using kind of like a Google button type thing where there's a little you know, search bar, where you can just put in a phrase, and it will find not even the exact keyword, but the most you know, semantically similar kind of language across all your different documents. And then again, like the important thing is you click a button, and it inserts the citation right into the Word document. So it keeps all of your citation formatting consistent as well. So if you're like, you know, extract or record, er, you know, 25 You know,
Jeff Lewis 38:54
that that's a very important but subtle point it bears repeating because my paralegals hate it. I am inconsistent when I'll do like a comma or a page or a, and this product consistently names the record throughout and saves my paralegals, probably hundreds of hours of time going in and correcting my inconsistent references. It's fantastic.
Jacqueline Schafer 39:13
Yeah, no, we get great feedback on that. Yeah. And again, that's something that like, definitely came out of my experience of, we all do it right. Like we forget how we talked about this piece of evidence.
Jeff Lewis 39:24
I pretty much keep this. Tim and I are appellate lawyers, and we deal with huge volumes of appellate records. And we understand the use cases for appellate lawyers. We also do trial work. What is the use case for a trial lawyer or a transactional lawyer or somebody outside the appellate world for using clear brief? Is there room for clear brief in their lives?
Jacqueline Schafer 39:43
Yes, absolutely. So we recently released a new feature that uses generative AI and by the way, it is something where you can opt in to this feature because we know not all lawyers are comfortable yet with generative AI or other features are like Classic AI. And so what you can do with it is drag in all of your evidence that you got in discovery, Discovery responses, whatever it is, and you click a button, and clear brief extracts all of the dates. And it does this, you know, even when it's kind of implied dates as well, puts them into a chart in Word, with a summary of what happened on each date. And then this is the important part with a link a hyperlink to that page, where it got that date, and it got that summary. So that you can click on it, and this is like, you know, in seconds, it boom, it just creates this this chart for you. And you can see the source, you can see exactly even highlighted where the AI found this information, so that you can go from giant mess of facts to organized, you know, sort of timeline of the case with citations in minutes. So that is why this is a game changer. We're hearing that from her trial court users,
Tim Kowal 41:00
I think we buried the lead with this with this timeline feature because that is the feature that that got my got me to get my reach for my credit card. Okay, that's that's what's gonna have me putting my payment information into the into the clear, brief website, because every case I get starts with that mess of facts. As you describe it, I get a bunch of documents, I have to try to make some sense of this case to see if it's a case I can take on to try to understand what the case is about. If I'm, you know, being hired as the appellate attorney, I need to know, you know, what the key facts are, and try to make sense of what the issues we might raise on appeal are. And I usually spend, you know, hour to several hours of my own time trying to figure out if this is a case for me. And if I have an agenda of AI working for me to produce just the basic set of key facts for the case, that would be a real game changer for me.
Jacqueline Schafer 41:48
I love to hear that. And, you know, also just to point out like, there's still less work that you would like Bill for, right? Once you even get this starting point, because you're going to be making your notes and the chart and word about, you know, the significance of the dates you're going to be looking for, okay, well, the AI can only extract the dates that are in the documents. So if there's a missing, you know, piece of the timeline, that's something that you are going to notice as the lawyer, we're like, oh, we need to go find, you know, some evidence we need to get a declaration or something to cover the missing time period. Like we don't have anything in the in the facts that we have so far to prove that date. So it's really not replacing your you know, legal work. It's just taking away that grunt work phase. Yeah. And getting you quicker to the fun part of you know, spend hours like on that analysis, not on the like making the chargeback. Yeah, well,
Jeff Lewis 42:40
let me let me ask you I have played with this feature. But I haven't done a deep dive yet terms of the timeline, if you have an email dated June 7, and the body of the email says last week was the meeting when we conspired to defraud the defendants? will it create an entry in the timeline of when that meeting occurred?
Jacqueline Schafer 42:57
Yeah, so it does seem to do that. When there's an implied timeline, like sort of language like last week, something happened? Yes, that is, I have noticed it doing that for the exam. And yeah, and so it'll provide like, you know, a summary of that email, and a link to the email so that you can review it because again, I want to emphasize my whole perspective on AI, as a lawyer is that it will not replace our own judgment here. And so just it needs to be reviewed. And, by the way, I think that is the big, you know, insight, that clear brief has had from the beginning that we're always worried about other people being able to believe what we say, with and that's why we have citations. That's why we spend so much energy on citations. And it's only becoming even more important now with AI. And so legal products that are not, you know, paying attention to that, in my opinion, are not going to ultimately be as useful to lawyers. So that's why, you know, we still continue to put so much focus on like, yes, it will do these cool things. But here is where it got that information. You look at it lawyer. And you determine all this summary makes sense.
Jeff Lewis 44:06
Interesting. All right. Let me let's talk about the future a bit in terms of AI in a courtroom. I assume you did some oral arguments back in the day when you were doing appellate law. Did you first see a time when a lawyer is in a courtroom with a laptop open? They have clear brief 4.0 running and AI is running and listening to the justices questions and the lawyers answers, it displays the 15 best things you could say in response.
Jacqueline Schafer 44:31
Yes, and amazing product idea. Yeah, credit for that. Like so the way you can do that right now with clear brief is it I am hearing that practitioners are able to bring their laptops into oral argument in a lot of jurisdictions. So you could just type it into that clear reefs, you know, sort of googly you know, bar, Google don't sue me. And put you know, the question that the judge asked you and Claire reef will do exactly that. It will show you To the most relevant pages with the source, because I just I have the strongest memory I have from oral argument is arguing before the Alaska Supreme Court and having them say, you know, one of the the justices say, Miss Schaefer, where in the record does it say, blah, blah, blah, and I was like, frozen like a deer in headlights. And I had my, you know, sort of coffee stain dog eared, like copies that I'm like, frantically flipping through. And, you know, it's the worst feeling. And so this is to me, 100%, what we should be using technology for is, you know, show the judge, first of all, if you had sent them your hyperlinked brief, you know, beforehand, they would know, the record, they would know exactly what it says in the record. But this is the vision of technology is that, you know, help tell that story in a way that's backed up by evidence. So it doesn't just seem like, you know, we're saying about just stuff, you know, to the court. And it's, it's just
Tim Kowal 45:58
so when when the judge asked, where's it say that in the brief, and you have been allowed to bring your laptop running clear, brief, and the next version of it is listening to everything that's going on and doing a live transcript? It'll answer the questions, question will just pop up right on the screen. And you'll just read it back to the judge, Your Honor, it's on page 87. That's right. Yeah. Let me ask
Jeff Lewis 46:16
you this. The areas that Tim and I practice most in LA in Orange County, the second fourth districts here in California, allow gadgets in the courtroom, but they have to be in airplane mode, no internet, I think clear brief for a lot of the query type functions relies on the internet, do you foresee a future where clear, brief 4.0 can do its thing locally on your computer rather than needing to talk to the cloud?
Jacqueline Schafer 46:40
Yeah, I do see that. What I would say, though, is I think it makes more sense for the courts to allow internet that, you know, that really is where the courts need to recognize that there's going to be a better outcome for everybody if we can use modern technology products. And yeah, and so that's where, you know, once the courts themselves start also using it, then they start to realize, oh, okay, yeah, it makes sense. Why are we blocking people from, you know, using tools that can help, you know, deliver a better experience for everybody in this case?
Jeff Lewis 47:14
Yeah, well, it took a long time for the courts just allow us to bring in iPads, I have very vivid memories of, you know, seeing trial lawyers come into appellate courts with boxes and boxes and boxes of files for oral argument. I wanted to just bring my iPad just solely for the optics just to destroy the other side. It was only really recently that they allowed those gadgets to come in.
Jacqueline Schafer 47:33
Yeah, and I think we're just seeing that change very rapidly. For example, I am a part recently, it was was added to the Texas bar AI Task Force. And the task force is, you know, releasing guidance and recommendations and includes judges on the task force. So there is definitely this rapid sort of recognition by the legal institutions that we can't just ignore the internet. We can't just ignore AI, we have to be prepared and prepare the bench to, you know, and the bar to respond. And you know, to be prepared to use these technologies.
Jeff Lewis 48:11
Do you have a chat GBT are similar member of that taskforce? Are they all humans?
Jacqueline Schafer 48:15
They're all humans at this point.
Jeff Lewis 48:19
All right, you have a rapid
Tim Kowal 48:22
I got several more questions, but I just think we just have time for one. So I'm gonna try to kind of try rule two into one maybe where you've all Jack, you've always got your your future goggles on. So I want to know where you think, you know, where you see the law profession and legal tech going in five years? And and maybe if you can answer that also, along with I'm just going to shamelessly double up on this question. I need help. You know, I, as I mentioned at the top, I love legal tech, but I'm always afraid of grabbing on to too many shiny objects and becoming more of a distraction than a help. So and I think that's where we are in the age of of legal tech. There's so many ideas percolating. But I think a lot of attorneys might be in my shoes, and they're trying to, they're trying to grab on, so they don't fall too far behind. But they don't know. Like, like, where should I start? So maybe you can tell us? Maybe we can use your future goggles and work from behind? Where do you see things in five years? So that we can we attorneys who aren't at the crest of the wave with you know, where we should grab the wave?
Jacqueline Schafer 49:19
Yeah, no, I think that's a great question. It can feel very overwhelming right now. I would say you know, focus on the core tools that your business needs as a lawyer, which to me are, you know, a case management system, you know, the place where you keep your documents, the emails and everything, and then tools that help you with your, you know, your substantive work, like clear, brief your writing, your drafting your storytelling, your preparation for oral argument. So I would say focus on you know, adding tools that really get to the heart of your practice, because you're, you know, you and your team's most important asset is your time. time. So you want to spend your time, you know, learning and operating as a team to learn the tools that are going to have the biggest impact for, you know, actually winning the case. So that's what I think there's like all sorts of use cases for AI that to me seem a little bit further out from the actual work that we care about the most and focus on, you know, the tools that help you with the bread and butter of your of your work, and it won't seem so overwhelming. And the other thing is, I think, really make it a part of your team culture and your your business culture, that you are encouraging people to try and use technology that you are setting aside time for training, because a lot of firms just, you know, get a tech product and they expect that's all they need to do. It's like no, you still need to make sure that you know, there's training, one of the things that we do at Clear brief is we offer ongoing just one on one training and support because that's actually how you get to true adoption, in my opinion is, you know, even just looking to the future, we're still a profession that we weren't really, our legal education wasn't focused on using technology so much. So there's just going to be a catch up here, and even over the next five years, where we're all, you know, learning how to operate in the modern world. Which other you know, other professions have been there for a little while. But this is our time to, you know, take advantage of, you know, these amazing AI large language models, our bread and butter is language. And so this is why we're seeing really great, you know, helpful tools that apply to the legal world.
Tim Kowal 51:36
What do you think of this idea, Jackie, and this was inspired by Jeff, you referred me to that book by Dan Martell, buy back your time. Yes. So here's something along the lines of something he suggested, what do you think about allowing your staff, you know, give your staff a budget, look, pick out whatever AI tools you like, whatever is going to help your workflow and up to a certain dollar amount, no questions asked? No, you know, and, and invest in that so that you can redeploy your services to make you more effective.
Jacqueline Schafer 52:05
I think that's one interesting approach, I do think that it is important to look for tools where you can collaborate as a team on the stuff that you need to collaborate on. But then yeah, there's going to be things that only your paralegal, you know, needs to do this, like, yeah, don't make them go through insane hoops to get a tool that they need to do their job. But I think you'll get the most benefits. And that's why, you know, we really thought about that it clear brief that every aspect of writing your document in Word, you need the other people on your team to be able to see the sources, you know, to generate the exhibits with a click, you know, to do the table of authorities to, like different people on your team might be stepping into help. So like looking for tools that are built with that collaboration in mind. And so I do think that it is important to get on the same page with everyone on your team about, you know, these are the ones we're going to invest in as a team. And then yeah, if you need other things, let's focus on that. But always keep in mind, of course, like security, and making sure that, you know, the tools that you use are have put a lot of thought into secure design query, for example, we're sock two type two certified, which means that we're not only meeting all these really strict security controls, we're also audited by a third party on whether we follow those controls. So it's really hard to achieve that certification, and you're going to want to look for things like that when you're evaluating technology.
Tim Kowal 53:27
Well, thank you so much for joining us, Jackie. This has been a great conversation. I love the product clear brief. I know that that Jeff is a subscriber and I told you after seeing, seeing the demo of the chronology feature, I've got my credit card out on my desk right now and I'm gonna and I'm at Clear brief.com So after we we stopped recording here, you'll have a new subscriber. So Jeff, unless you have anything else, I think it's gonna wrap up this episode. We're gonna thank once once again, our sponsor casetext for sponsoring the podcast each week we'll include links to casetext we talked about, we use casetext daily updated database of case law, statutes, regulations, codes, and more listeners of the podcast will enjoy a special discount on casetext basic research when they sign up at casetext.com/calp. That's casetext.com/calp.
Jeff Lewis 54:14
And if you have suggestions for future episodes, please email us at info at Cal podcast.com. And in our upcoming episodes, look for tips on how to lay the groundwork for an appeal when preparing for trial.
Tim Kowal 54:24
Thanks again, Jackie.
You have just listened to the California appellate podcast, a discussion of timely trial tips and the latest cases and news coming from the California Court of Appeal and the California Supreme Court. For more information about the cases discussed in today's episode, our hosts and other episodes, visit the California appellate law podcast website at Cao podcast.com. That's c a l podcast.com. Thanks to Jonathan Cara for our intro music. Thank you for listening and please join us again