We need to create more data for LLMs to find women’s names when answering the query, “Who are the top thought leaders in Artificial Intelligence?”
The recent Legaltech® News article about generative artificial intelligence and the pervasiveness of the industry’s “Boys’ Club” captured my attention as a lawyer and legal technologist for more than 25 years. Many of the article’s observations about how the Generative AI phenomenon highlights race and gender disparity in the industry seem accurate, in the sense that the latest tech trend reflects the realities of the industry and society.1 As an attendee of professional conferences for many years, I can attest that white men are disproportionately represented on panels as “experts” on a wide range of issues.
That said, my experience tells me to take the long view of our industry and seize opportunity when it presents itself. I am one of those the LTN article calls “optimistic” about the posture and possibilities for many women in legal tech to pivot and present as GenAI thought leaders. Perhaps this is because I have spent much of my career focused on the eDiscovery space; where, at least anecdotally, it seems women are more prominently represented than in other areas of legal technology.
The LTN article also illuminates a blind spot in AI thinking; which is that eDiscovery professionals are uniquely positioned to lead in the GenAI space because of the many parallels and synergies between GenAI and electronic discovery technology, analytics, processes, skills, and business. As Dru Armstrong, the CEO of AffiniPay said in the article, “[t]ech is all about understanding really important problems and using technology to solve it [sic] in unique and differentiated ways.”
EDiscovery professionals are highly trained, versatile problem solvers using advanced technology to normalize, categorize and analyze enormous amounts of data. Their work helps lawyers determine the validity of claims, construct intricate narratives for dozens of witnesses, find evidentiary support to present in motion practice and at trial, defend clients before juries and regulators, gauge liability exposure in “bet the company” litigation, and determine the value of a business in a potential merger or acquisition. They often do this using complicated methodologies to justify and calculate statistics about their processes and protocols that must withstand judicial scrutiny and sometimes require the sworn testimony of computer science experts.
In June, I wrote about how eDiscovery professionals’ skills make them uniquely positioned to take the lead in AI strategy, implementation, and practice. I cited the eDiscovery industry’s role in shaping policy and regulation such as the 2006 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the treatment of electronically stored information, and the development of judicial standards and accepted methodologies for data analysis using advanced eDiscovery technologies like Technology Assisted Review (TAR) and Continuous Active Learning (CAL). Generative AI has prompted calls for vast and comprehensive regulation, citing many of the same concerns about protecting the integrity of the judicial process and guarding against “black box” processes that cannot be explained or duplicated. The requirements for vendor and technology due diligence in the eDiscovery space parallel early guidance from the ABA on questions to ask AI vendors to address additional concerns about transparency and potential for bias and discrimination in outputs.
Keep in mind that recent legal AI conferences and panels have been narrowly focused for the most part on defining types of AI, differentiating GenAI, and discussing the basics. Most of the AI thought leadership dominating the news is merely an opening act. The impact of GenAI on law (and society) is expansive, and we have barely scratched the surface on “main stage” issues that women eDiscovery leaders have been working on for decades.
As noted, women have driven innovation, policy, and business in the eDiscovery space with numerous direct parallels to GenAI concerns. We need to create more data for LLMs to find female names when answering the query: “Who are the top thought leaders in artificial intelligence?” As someone who produces legal technology and continuing legal education programming, I approach this as more than an academic exercise. My list is woefully incomplete, but I can supplement those named in Isha Marathe’s article with several eDiscovery leaders across the EDRM.
Tomorrow, I’ll give you my list!
Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.
- My focus here is on women in legal tech, and particularly those who work primarily in eDiscovery. While several of the AI thought leaders I propose herein happen to be women of color, I want to acknowledge that underrepresentation of all people of color in legal technology is a much larger issue worthy of separate treatment. ↩︎