Podcast: The Legal Implications of Autonomous Vehicle Technology with Akerman’s Gail Gottehrer (Part 1)

Originally published in the Legal Executive Institute.

By Joseph Raczynski, Gregg Wirth & Gail Gottehrer

In a new two-part Thomson Reuters’ Legal Executive Institute podcast, Joe Raczynski, Legal Technologist and Futurist with Thomson Reuters Legal, discusses the hot topic of autonomous vehicles and their impact on the legal industry with attorney Gail Gottehrer, partner at Akerman LLP.
In part 1 of the podcast, (available below) the pair discuss how the technology behind driverless cars continues to evolve and who are the main players in this area. In part 2, they will discuss the opportunities for law firms in this evolving area. For example, law firms focusing on autonomous vehicles can advise clients about various issues including: (i) changes in insurance coverage models; (ii) regulatory changes in affected industries, (iii) workforce/employment issues, (iv) data privacy and security issues, and (v) anticipating potential use of data in litigation.

Emerging Technology in the Legal Industry (Video)

By Joseph Raczynski

In this Vlog, learn about Emerging Technology in the Legal industry. I focus on the impact of the Trinity of Forces (Cloud, Infinite Processing Power and AI) on Emerging Technology in the Legal industry. The Emerging Technologies discussed are: Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Analytics, VR/MR/AR (Virtual Reality, Mixed Reality and Augmented Reality) and VPAs (Virtual Personal Assistants) or Bots.

Is Virtual Reality Finally Ready for Business Use?

Originally published on Practice Innovations

By Joseph Raczynski

“It’s like dreaming with your eyes open”VR Developer

We are rapidly entering a time where space – the distance between people – will have little relevance. Even at this moment, distance is verging on extraneous. A news story breaks in Tokyo and seconds later a goat herder on the Serengeti in Africa can view it on his mobile device. The speed of communication and information dissemination is bridging communication gaps that existed for eternity. The next evolution will allow people to interact with others unlike ever before. Virtual Reality (VR) is this emerging technology ushering us into this new realm. We will delve into VR momentarily, but first we need to understand its underpinnings of why now.

How did we get here?

We are experiencing an era of exponential growth in several key technological spheres. I call this the Trinity of Forces: processing speed, memory, and AI. The first force states that computer processing speeds are growing exponentially. Known as Moore’s Law, the concept is that computer chip speed doubles every 12-18 months. This is significant. Think of it this way, the $1,000 computer you purchased in 2001 had the processing power of a gnat’s brain. In 2010, that new $1,000 computer processed as fast as a mouse brain. In 2024 it will process as fast as the human brain. Roughly by 2040 that $1,000 computer you buy from Amazon.com will process as fast as the collective brains of all of humankind. This is exponential growth of processing power.

The second of the trinity is the exponential growth of memory. Cloud computing has become cheaper and more easily accessible than ever before. In fact, we are at a point where infinite memory will almost be free. Viewing the graphic you can gauge the direction we are headed. In 1956 a memory device the size of a closet had 5MB and cost $120,000. Fast forward to 2005 and 128 MB totaled $99, but then in 2014 we were able to jump to 128 GB priced at $99. This is exponential growth of memory.

The third force of the trinity is Artificial Intelligence (AI), that is, the creation of code-based algorithms which are adaptive and able to evolve rapidly (i.e. computers teaching themselves to learn).

When weaving these three elements together you have a platform for technology to thrive in an explosive fashion.

The Year of VR

VR is a slice of sci-fi we have been anticipating for decades. Incubating in a state of inertia, it has been waiting to leverage the Trinity of Forces to rise. Widely discussed, 2016 is the year of VR. Virtual Reality in all of its forms is reliant on technology becoming faster, smaller, and more adaptive, which is happening all around us right now and is pivotal to understanding the business evolution for VR.

The Nomenclature of VR

  • Virtual Reality (VR)—typically refers to computer technologies that use software to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that replicate a real environment1 using something over the eyes and ears to view and hear. No question VR is the term that gets bantered about most frequently, however there are two other terms that are integral.
  • Augmented Reality (AR)—essentially uses a device over your eyes and layers digital information on top of what you see in front of you. This could be text on top of what you are looking at (a text message that just came in) or notifications popping up on your viewing lens as you walk down the street—perhaps 30 percent off if you walk into Starbucks immediately.
  • Mixed Reality (MR)—is the newbie of the trifecta and some industry experts believe it has the most potential for adoption. MR is a newly minted phrase that mixes the best of VR and AR into one package. This medium places extremely realistic imagery over and around what you currently see with your eyes. The largest player in the VR space is Magic Leap, more on that in a moment.

Virtual Reality Emerging All Around Us

The aforementioned advancements in tech are leading us directly to the virtual door of VR for the enterprise. The investment in this space is moving forward faster than ever. In fact, according to Digi-Capital, who tracks this space, “almost $1.2 billion was invested in the first quarter of this year alone, with around $800 million going into Magic Leap. To put this in perspective, $1.2 billion dollars is 25x the level of AR/VR investment 2 years ago in Q2 2014.” 2 Initially, many of the dollars are being spent on building out platforms. In addition, the gaming sector is certainly ahead of the curve on investment. Microsoft built the HaloLens which is one of the best examples of Mixed Reality in the market. HaloLens helps with a mundane task where we all might find ourselves needing assistance. For example, a pipe under the kitchen sink is cracked and needs to be replaced. Donning the HaloLens, you open the cabinet door to see the ailing pipe next to your disposal. The HaloLens kicks in and layers graphics on top of the real pipe with arrows and directions for how to dismantle the pipes with the proper plumber’s wrench. The Lens helps you through each step, offering guidance on how to fix the broken pipe. This technology can be envisioned in a myriad of ways to help in the enterprise.

There are several companies that have received the largest investments in this space. Most notably is Oculus ($2 billion) who has partnered up with Facebook to introduce VR to the masses. There is little question Mark Zuckerberg predicts his company will be virtual reality based. Have you seen 360 degree pictures or videos on Facebook recently?

A little known company Magic Leap ($4.5 billion) is the best funded. This quiet startup based out of sandy Ft. Lauderdale is making major waves in the industry. Remaining under radar, they coined the term Mixed Reality (MR). Checkout the video which shows what their lenses could do in the near future: (VIDEO). Aside from these companies, other names of note include Blippar ($1.5 billion) and Mindmaze ($1 billion).3

The Reality of VR in the Enterprise—the Forming of an Experience

Google Smart Contact Lens

The enterprise is probably five years from adoption of VR or honestly, MR. One of the first uses will undoubtedly be connecting people from around the world in one location. Imagine your team of four people needing to meet to discuss a project, Donna in London, Isabelle in Jakarta, Atif in Pakistan, and Neal in South Africa. Currently you could conduct a conference call, WebEx, GoToMeeting, or the best option, a Cisco Telepresence meeting. Soon you will be able to connect to all four people using a set of spectacles. Choose your location for the meeting, the surface of the moon, Amazon rainforest, or sitting on a coral reef. Using glasses you can see each person, as if they were with you. Read their gestures, hear the intonations and feel tactile feedback with devices held in your hands while experiencing what it feels like to be in the Amazon.

Another impact on the enterprise will be the eventual disappearance of computer screens, monitors and even mobile phones as we use them now. Instead the lenses we wear will display all of the information for our eyes to read and interpret. Picture sitting at a desk with a large wall near you. Your lenses project multiple screens into your eyes which you interpret as on the walls, email, a video chat, your kids photos on one side, and perhaps a document you are writing. MR allows for people to interact with their tangible physical environment, adding a layer of realistic information on top. One day soon you will not be able to tell the difference between reality and VR/AR/MR with the advances in vision displays and tactile sensors. Google is another company in this space. It recently patented contact lenses with the ability to take pictures of the user’s field of vision.

The key to this evolution in for businesses is shrinking technology. Currently the stigma of wearing a large boxy contraption over the eyes is not palatable for work. That said, as we inch closer to VR, one of the reasons 2016 has become the year of VR is due to better screens on mobile devices (true HD video), which can be slid into a headset to interpret. Quite simply the headsets we see on the market now, like the Samsung Gear VR by Oculus, have two magnifying glasses an inch from your phone, powered by software that splits your screen into two related, but slightly different perspectives of what you are seeing. Combine that with the internal accelerometer and gyroscope that all phones have currently and the device knows when you are moving your head so that the screen can react to the motion. You feel like you are seeing something first hand.

Amazing times are ahead with VR/AR/MR. The enterprise will be forever altered by this form of information delivery. As an aside, I would encourage you to dip your toe into this space if you have not already done so. For $2.85 Google Cardboard is a device which allows you to turn your iPhone or Android into VR. There is truly no way to explain it better than experiencing the technology for yourself and, because it is so inexpensive, it is worth the effort. With this experience you can begin to see the transformative affect that VR will have on the enterprise.

Mixed Reality Video


1. “Virtual Reality,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_reality

2. “AR/VR investment hits $1.7 billion in last 12 months,” Digi-Capital, April 2016, Click here

3. Ibid.


1. Somack Holidays, http://www.somak.com/tanzania/arusha

2. Wikimedia Commons, Click here

3. PC World, Click here

4. Forbes, Click here

5. Joseph Raczynski – Magic Leap, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPLKL_B1gGA

ILTACON 2016: Re-Imagining Legal Technology for the 21st Century

By Joseph Raczynski

“The story of disruption was just the first act of 21st century business, now begins the tale of total transformation.”

— Mike Walsh

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — So reverberated the words of Mike Walsh a Futurist/CEO of Tomorrow, across an audience of more than 3,000 legal professionals at ILTACON 2016, a four-day conference that centers on the intersection of technology and the legal industry.

Walsh gave the keynote on the opening day of the annual conference, and the lens he cast enlightened the onlookers to a futuristic view of our current world. He then bridged that technological vision to the 21st Century Legal realm and focused on several thought provoking questions.

Can you think like an 8-year-old?

The key to transformation is to be ahead of it. Through the optics of an eight-year-old we can view the direction that technology is shifting. They embrace mobile — why? Because parents have pacified their kids for years with iPads and mobile phones. Their learnings began on those platforms which became almost intuitive to them and will now dictate our future.

When will we be a truly data-driven world?

Now! The biggest social shifts are shaped by the data-driven world. Disney World offers the most advanced of data collection and use. Their MagicBands are linked to a credit card and function as a park entry pass as well as a room key. They know who you are, where you are, and increasingly know what you want — predictively. Food can be delivered to you without you ever specifying a location. All of this is using data and machine learning to better understand consumer, and thus human behavior.


WeChat, an app primarily used in China, was also offered as a good example of where we are going. With this app, people in China can play games, pay for things and buy insurance — the whole time interacting with a bot that is constantly gathering data and learning. This is what we will begin to see in all businesses in the near future.

In preparation for his transition into a discussion around legal, Walsh offered another thought. The children of today will be the first generation to be raised partly by artificial intelligence (AI). If you think about the platforms that are prevalent now, kids are interacting with them increasingly — Alexa, Google and Siri. Law firms have to start thinking about how these eventual employees will work and interact with each other both inside and outside of the firm.

How will a 21st century law firm differ from a 20th century firm?

The world is now global. The largest corporations and law firms have back office and operations support overseas. As an example, Walsh talked about something he saw in India which illustrated where we are headed. An AI machine (physical computer) is situated alongside other staff in a cubical at an office center in India. It is fully embraced and accepted as a highly efficient employee — and continues to improve rapidly with its own productivity.

Speaking of actual human employees, recruiting people will transform, Walsh noted. The next generation of hiring future lawyers, and collaborating with clients should focus on rethinking how we hire. Offer a prospect a clean sheet of paper and ask them to come up with a solution to a problem. Another idea, after a month on the job, ask what processes the newbie might change based on what they are seeing.


What kind of mental software are you new hires running?

Going forward, the operating system of a 21st century lawyer is as much about the culture as it is about the code. All firms will have to be agile, and firms will have to hire people that think that way. Everything around our traditional culture and space is changing. People will increasingly be working from other locations, so this concept has to be reimagined. Walsh’s suggestion was to think about the person you are hiring — are they energized by solving problems? Additionally, environments have to be reconsidered. How do you design an office for people that do not need one?

Lastly, are you leveraging all of your data?

Law firms are rife with all sorts of data. One question that Walsh suggested was worth posing is how are firms using that data? Increased productivity can be gained by applying analytics to the whole.

In closing, Walsh pleaded for the legal space to adjust their mindsets, how we see and use data, which people are hired, and what technological processes are in place. We need to think like an eight-year-old to see how the world will change and adapt now, he explained.

The data inside law firms has to be better leveraged and analyzed with new tools. When hiring, do so by unearthing agile people and creating more social workspaces. One of the best ways to do that is by rethinking your communities, picking some high-profile projects and challenging those new teams to experiment.

In conclusion, Walsh noted: “When preparing for this new future, embrace that the future means challenging everything we know to be true.”

Law Firm of the Future – The Trinity of Forces: Infinite Processing Power, Memory, and Machine Learning

By Joseph Raczynski

In ten years, it is predicted that 40% of the Fortune 500 companies will no longer exist1. This forecast originally cited in Fast Company is from a Babson Olin School of Business study.  This notion is nearly incomprehensible, but may have a significant impact on the legal business.

Why is this happening now, and what impact might it have on the law firm?

We are at an extraordinary moment in time with the evolution of technology on three fronts.  The trinity of forces are colliding at once, propelling change with everything around us.

Gordon Moore, an Intel chip scientist, formulated a well renowned technical law.  Moore’s Law states that roughly every 18 to 24 months, the processing power of computers doubles. That is, the ability for a computer to perform calculations is increasing exponentially.  For some perspective, if you were to buy a $1,000 computer in the year 2000, it would have had the processing power of an insect brain. Buy a new computer in 2010 and you would have the processing power of a mouse brain.  Fast-forward to 2024 and the expectation is that a new computer will be as powerful as the human brain.  In 2045, a $1,000 computer purchased from Amazon.com will process as fast as all of humankind.  The implications of this are staggering.

In the second of the three forces, we couple what amounts to unlimited processing power with the advances to storage and memory for computers. In 1965, IBM built a computer with 5MB of storage.  It was as big as a bedroom and cost $120,000. In 2004, a memory chip the size of a fingernail cost $99 and held 128 MB.  Ten years later, we can purchase a 128 GB chip for $99.  This is the hockey stick picture of momentum with exponential growth accelerating rapidly up the graph for both processing power and memory.

The third and last piece of this triumvirate of significant change is programming and algorithms.  We are at a state where computers are beginning to teach themselves.  Machine learning is becoming an increasingly important part of many businesses.  Through an algorithm, a programmer builds a foundation from which the program can learn and continue to adapt and grow.  There are a plethora of examples that are starting to take hold.  IBM Watson has the most buzz right now with its cognitive computing platform.  Uber uses machine learning to price rides, location drop-offs and pickups. Amazon can couple complementary products with your purchase.  In the legal space, WestSearch®, the fundamental algorithm behind WestlawNext®, learns as people conduct research.  It surfaces up the most pertinent content and good law for the researcher.  Other legal examples include e-Discovery where many products utilize predictive analytics to help reduce the number of eyes necessary to review documents.

The blending of these three forces – processing power, memory, and algorithms – is a mixture for infinite growth and transformation at law firms.  The opportunities are immense.  Here are some possible changes afoot as the trifecta take hold over the next 10 years.

  • As predicted that 40% of the Fortune 500 companies will no longer exist because of these forces, law firms will likely mirror this as some who do not adapt and embrace these technologies will struggle to survive
  • In the next 10 years, because of unlimited storage and processing power, most document review will be completely automated and computerized.  No longer will the first years or contract attorneys be reviewing documents for 18 hours a day
  • Workflow solutions will reign over the next five years, but beyond that the trifecta of forces mentioned will push these solutions into complete automation so that drafting documents will be computer generated.  This is actually happening now with 20 percent of Web news articles written by computer
  • We are in an interstitial period with the Cloud.  Currently, security frightens many firms from taking advantage of its scale and low cost.  In the coming years, most firms will move everything they can to some type of Cloud, including private or hybrid
  • Everything will be outsourced at the firm.  Phone systems, HR systems, back office, administrative and technical support, where the portal will be hosted, office tools like Microsoft® Office, and all things technical will likely be moved away from the firm and managed by vendor experts.  This will greatly reduce costs for the firm as they tap into the three forces
  • As a result of the above, most attorneys will work remotely, and law firm office space will be dramatically smaller
  • Big firms will get bigger and the medium may get smaller.  The mediums who adapt will find their niche as a regional player, local generalist, boutique, or litigation specialist
  • The impact on speed and adaptability on new attorneys will begin in law school.  Some schools have already begun a two-year program with the third focused on technology, lawyer tools, and recalibrating how the attorney will work in the new firm

The law firm of 10 years from now will certainly be different from what we have today.  In this extraordinary time, with the evolution of technology and trinity of forces, firms will have to adapt rapidly.  This fundamental shift will be an opportunity for the firm to become more efficient, create new opportunity, and ultimately serve their clients better.

1 John M. Olin School of Business study

Exponential Growth—The Data Explosion and Resulting Challenges and Opportunities for Law Firms, Part 2

By Joseph Raczynski

Over the course of the next several years I predict that many law firms will begin hiring data scientist. In my previous post Exponential Growth – The Data Explosion and Resulting Challenges and Opportunities for Law Firms, Part 1 I discussed how our current data explosion threatens experts at law firms but could yield vast opportunities. Recently Robin Grosset, Distinguished Engineer and Lead Architect at IBM Watson Analytics, described the importance of having a data scientist in your business. Underlining this point, he stated that in the United States there will be three-times the positions available in this field than can be filled.

How firms turn the big data challenge into opportunity

Why should law firms invest in a data scientist? Firms sit atop of massive quantities of very important specialized and typically siloed data. Grosset mentioned that a recent Mckinsey & Company report showed a firm could increase its operating margins by 60% by using the data they have currently. With the exponential growth of data, law firms will need to decipher it into understandable bits so they can make actionable decisions and find opportunity.

How could this be accomplished? In the past we know that eDiscovery practices utilized computer learning and analytics to create efficiency for large cases. As law firms continue to utilize flat fees as they seek out business, they will increasingly need to take advantage of analytics-based tools with a layer of human interaction. The human interaction is a piece that allows you, the expert, to ask simple or insightful questions for which the tool will serve up answers. Those intuitive results rest upon the underlining data which can be drilled into for greater understanding. The core piece to this human-level interaction is Semantic Analysis. In essence it adds meaning to data. That is, it creates data clues like data type, patterns, range density, sample values, and correlations. You essentially have a massive set of rules that are bundled together and sift through the data, eventually learning on its own and creating new interpretations of what lies within the data.

Why would a law firm use this? Business development, client retention, analysis of lawyer productivity, assessing resource allocation and a myriad of other untapped areas will be explored using a data scientist. With the ability to process massive quantities of information and find the white space, real opportunity will be found by those that go down this road. In fact, the analysis that IBM Watson puts forth states that most firms estimate that they only analyze 12% of their data currently and that 88% is left on the on the dark-grained, bamboo-laden law firm floor.

Ultimately, the exponential growth of data is currently creating challenges for some law firms. What will be fascinating over the years ahead is who will seize on this evolving opportunity and how will they approach it.

The Next Legal Era: Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computing

By Joseph Raczynski

We are on the cusp of a new era in computer technology.  What could possibly connect rapid automated legal decisions; systematized stack ranked medical diagnosis, and never created scrumptious food recipes?  At the IBM Cloud Innovation Forum in Dana Point CA, Mike Rhodin SVP of IBM Watson connected the three with a provocative overview of what our future in legal entails.

Here is some brief history.  The computer is entering its third era.  In the beginning we focused around the computation of numbers called the Tabulation Era.  Simple calculations ruled this phase.  After decades passed we moved into the use of magnetic tapes and programmed storage of information.  The central piece surrounding this period was programming and so is known as the Programmatic Era.  Currently we find ourselves in this phase but edging into the third known as the Learning Systems Era.

Our current era is in a troubled state.  In 2020 all data available will surpass 40 zettabytes (40 trillion GBs).  The slope on a graph which represents this change from today is nearly straight up.  For comparison, in 2009 the entire World Wide Web was estimated to contain close to 500 exabytes which is about one half a zettabyte.  Every electronic act, button pushed, video or picture taken, word written, is a magnification of significant proportion.  However, where data storage multiplies is as we create and store meta data and learned connections from the base data.

Why is data exploding?  When Watson competed against Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter on Jeopardy, IBM gave it a brain (offline hard drive) of all the information they thought was pertinent to win.  Initially they found it was about 10 gigs of information.  However when the engineers extracted the meta data from the 10 gigs using every algorithm imaginable, the storage ballooned 10 times to 100 gigs.  Lastly they applied other computer assisted cognitive learning against the data and the storage grew by 100 times.  This is one reason the amount of data is exploding as we move toward 2020.  The data we create about data is actually more voluminous than the original data set, and the learning’s from that are even greater.  The volume of data is at a tipping point.  We are nearly at capacity to understand it as humans.

Rhodin says we make decisions through four phases.  We observe, interpret, evaluate and then decide.  Watson now has the ability to tap into this same process.  This was made evident when doctors saw Watson on Jeopardy ranking top answers based on evidence and supporting hypotheses.  These data points can help form decisions.

Expertise matters more than ever before and with the amount of data coming online it is increasingly challenging for any one human in a field such as law to have mastery.  Cognitive computing enhances, accelerates and scales human expertise so that the attorney can wrap their head around the patterns and make intelligent decisions.  The attorney has to be especially aware of this as they are presented with much larger volumes of discovery data than ever conceived.

In a very unique example of Watson’s prowess, it digested all of Bon Appetite’s recipes.  The system was trained in underlining chemical combinations thus bringing never tried together favors with very different blends.  It connected the dots on things never created and spit out several recipes.  The food was launched in a food truck at the festival South By Southwest (SXSW).  The truck produced the biggest buzz with lines extending three blocks.  Chef Watson’s cookbook of 100 recipes is coming out in the coming months.

Ultimately what Watson is doing is exploring the whitespace, attempting to connect the dots into what has not been found.  As we are inundated by data, cognitive computing will help experts sift through the data and retain their expertise.  It is clear that this is the future of many industries including the legal sphere.  Watson is in beta trials for medical and life sciences, law enforcement, financial services and legal.