Thursday, 8 December 2011

Armies of Expensive Lawyers, Replaced By Cheaper Software

4th March 2011, lawyers in America woke up to the above headline in the New York Times.
The story explained:

"When five television studios became entangled in a Justice Department antitrust lawsuit against CBS, the cost was immense. As part of the obscure task of discovery - providing documents relevant to a lawsuit-the studios examined six million documents at a cost of more than USD $2.2million, much of it to pay for a platoon of lawyers and paralegals who worked for months at high hourly rate. But that was in 1978. 

Now, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, e-discovery software can analyze documents in a fraction of the of the time for a fraction of the cost. In January, for example, Blackstone Discovery of Palo Alto, California, helped analyze 1.5million  documents for less than USD $100,000. 

Some programs go beyond just finding documents with relevant terms at computer speeds. They can extract relevant concepts even in the absence of specific terms, and deduce patterns of behavior that would have deluded lawyers examining million of documents. From a legal staffing viewpoint, it means that a lot of people who used to be allocated to conduct documents review are no longer able to be billed out, said Bill Herr, who as a lawyer at a major chemical company used to muster auditoriums of lawyers to read documents for weeks on end." 

"People get bored, people get headaches. Computers dont !   

So this is the world we are in. This is where every conversation about how we must fix our economy and transform our schools has to start. In this world, Malaysia must have companies that are more productive-that are using the tools of hyper-connectivity in every way possible to produce more goods and services with fewer people-and we must have more and more companies that spawn decent paying jobs.

There is only one way to square this circle: more innovation powered by better education for every Malaysian. A healthy economy is one driven not just by greater efficiency and productivity but also by innovation. That is, more people inventing more goods and services that make others more comfortable, more productive, better educated,more entertained, healthier, and more secure and finding ways to make these goods and deliver these services in Malaysia. 

What a town needs to thrive today is a hundred people starting companies that employ twenty five people each, and twenty people starting companies that employ fifty people each, and five people starting companies that employ three hundred people each.

In short, we need as many people as possible to be creative creators and creative servers. Some can do that by inventing a new product, others by reinventing an existing job, and others by delivering a routine service with some extra passion , a personal touch, or a new insight. This is what every employer is now looking for. 

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