Updated: Aug 3
Daniel Broderick is a former corporate lawyer and legaltech founder. He is passionate about the benefits of legal tech and about helping others become lawyers suited for the 21st century and not past centuries.
What prompted the founding of BlackBoiler?
I was an attorney for Thompson Hine and Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton in Washington, D.C. After repeatedly making the same edits in documents, I knew there had to be a better way, as the work was not only time-consuming and inefficient, it was also prone to error. The solution was BlackBoiler. In 2015, I teamed up with BlackBoiler’s CTO and Co-Founder, Jonathan Herr, a machine learning and artificial intelligence expert, to found BlackBoiler.
How did you come up with the name?
“Black” is the color edits in contracts were made in before red was used, while “Boiler” is referring to the boilerplate. Boilerplate language is language considered generic or standard in contracts.
How do you go about encouraging the adoption of legal tech?
There is a lot of great legal technology out there and some not so great. When users understand how a tool makes their lives easier, and their jobs more efficient, they are more inclined to adopt the tech, especially when their workflow doesn’t have to be interrupted. I encourage adoption by focusing on the key benefits of our tool, which are reducing legal costs, increased efficiency, improving legal process management, lowering risk, and adding value to legal skills by leveraging technology appropriately and automating relevant processes.
As a former attorney, I can relate to the pain points experienced by lawyers. BlackBoiler leverages the tools and technologies users already know how to use, Word and email. Allowing users to use BlackBoiler’s powerful artificial intelligence and machine learning with little to no learning curve.
Legal tech allows lawyers to focus their time on higher-value work rather than spend time on low-zero value work. However, the market is full of “analytical tools,” but only a few tools perform the work of a lawyer exactly how a lawyer performs that work. For example, automated contract tools like BlackBoiler that edit contracts like a lawyer can automate as much as 70% of human review time. This kind of ROI offers relief to companies pressed to keep business moving forward while fulfilling the challenging mandate of cost-cutting and eliminating redundancies.
Lastly, I focus on measuring the impact of legal tech and the positive ROI offered by its adoption. The key to measuring the impact of legal tech and the ROI lies with data. Once you can track and analyze data, you can develop metrics that will help identify the usefulness and value of new technology. Regularly checking in on how the technology is working and whether it is meeting expectations is also essential.
What are your thoughts on the state of legal tech within the industry?
I believe the legal tech industry can be broken down into three tiers. The first tier includes established and tested solutions such as those focused on e-discovery or legal research. The second tier is those solutions that are transitioning to established and tested solutions, such as e-signature and enterprise legal management. Lastly, the third tier includes early-stage solutions such as contract review and automated contract markup tools like BlackBoiler.
COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of legal tech. This is due to demands for greater efficiency by clients, the need to manage the vast quantities of data demanded by modern compliance, and the growing realization by companies and firms that legal tech may pose a significant threat to their profitability if not adopted.
The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of tools with clear ROI. For BlackBoiler, it has allowed us to identify those buyers who were truly interested in automating their contract review and weeded out those buyers who were just surveying the market.
Lastly, the practice of law is becoming multi-disciplinary. The delivery of high-quality legal services, with a budget and at scale requires more than just attorneys. Today it involves a multi-disciplinary team of attorneys, project managers, paralegals, technologists, data scientists, etc.
What should new lawyers know about legal tech?
Legal tech and AI won’t replace attorneys, but attorneys who leverage these tools will replace attorneys that don’t.
Lawyers should view AI and legal tech as a tool that will help support their work and allow them to focus on higher-value tasks, and not as something that will replace them. Legal tech will facilitate growth and productivity in organizations by increasing accuracy and driving efficiencies.
In contract review, there is a need for a triumvirate of people, process, and technology to solve contract challenges. AI is not able to solve these challenges alone. For example, AI contract review software can review an organization’s real estate leases for force majeure clauses or pandemic exemptions, but there may be other relevant yet obscure language buried inside of the contract that requires a human’s capacity to extrapolate and interpret.
New lawyers should embrace AI and legal tech and advocate for it within their organizations. Those organizations that adopt AI and legal tech will be well-positioned to deliver real-time insights, enhanced decision-making, and improved efficiency while also having a competitive advantage over those who do not.