A Q&A Conversation with Brian Hom
When Los Angeles Member Brian Hom joined Clark Hill this past April, he brought with him a unique collection of software and experiences that aims to change and streamline the processes attorneys utilize to solve legal issues for their clients.
Hom, a litigator in Clark Hill’s Automotive and Manufacturing industry group, recently discussed how his technological venture has changed the way he practices law and his future plans for implementing the software.
Just to start, how did this technology come to life?
At my last firm, I represented a large automotive manufacturer’s litigation portfolio of approximately 150 active warranty cases. I knew that I need a database to capture the vast amount of data that was being produced in each case. Controlling and understanding this data would be the key to defending the cases and implementing portfolio-wide strategies. I worked with a team of computer programmers and data scientists to create a robust database so that I could record absolutely every piece of information about every case, including plaintiff’s name, plaintiff’s counsel, type of vehicle, the court and judge, motions, how the judge ruled on those motions, what legal argument won or lost, and how the case resolved.
No piece of data was too small. By recording this data I was able to introduce a strategy that utilized quantitative reasoning and statistical analysis to discover patterns and similarities among the cases in the portfolio. This information helped me develop case strategies that were customized to the unique factual situation of each case while maintaining a consistent strategy across the portfolio.
Can you give me an early example of implementing this?
By analyzing patterns and similarities I was able to use the data to determine the most efficient strategy for each case. By using the program, I could run a new case that is in a specific court with a certain judge and a given set of circumstances through the system and then could tell the client all of the similar cases that we had over the years, and based on that history, tell them what similar cases settle for on average and how long they took to resolve.
How has the software grown from there?
Once we had a solid database, I kind of nerded out and made two major additions. First, the drawback to a database is entering the necessary data and I didn’t want to turn our paralegals into data entry clerks, because that’s not their job. I went back to work with the computer programmers and we improved the database to include software that employed artificial intelligence and machine learning to be able to extract structured and unstructured data and populate the database. We taught the software to read the key pleadings and client documents and have the ability to learn without direct instruction from the case team or programmers. This was more than converting a PDF into text and using a “search” function; rather, the software was able to analyze documents to find the key data regardless of where the data was located and the format it took.
Second, once I was able to extract data and auto-populate the database, I added a third component to make the software more useful. The programmers and I added software to automate pleading and document creation. This was the next logical step because we were able to input data and store data, but did not have an output. I created a series of templates based on our most used pleadings and documents and the software took those templates and with the press of a few buttons, was able to produce pleadings customized to a particular case, such as a letter, answer, or motion using the data in the database.
What do you see next for this software?
Where it’s ultimately going is full predictive analysis. I’m working with a software company now to develop this software and add predictive analysis. That is, the software can take all the data we collect and, using artificial intelligence, will be able to predict how cases will resolve without the need for attorneys to analyze patterns or use statistical analysis. The software will do it for you. We’ll then have a double-check because the computer will make a prediction and the attorneys will make a prediction, so then we can tell the client this is how we can design an efficient strategy.
How do you plan to share this software with your colleagues?
I think this is a very useful tool for any client with portfolios of similar cases, such as asbestos or liability cases, that needs to capture and analyze large amounts of data. Outside of the litigation context, instead of having to pay a team of reviewers to go and try to review different trust documents or SEC filings for certain terms or disclosures, the software can learn the documents and find the required information – no more page-by-page reviews. This software can be tailored to suit a number of different applications and many practices can benefit from having the ability to automatically extract data and produce work product with that data, such as pleadings, contracts, and correspondence.
Switching gears, did you have a unique inspiration for getting into Law?
I grew up with an interest in law and that was probably borne from a number of different influences. I was always fascinated by how laws were made and how those laws impact daily life. I initially thought I would go into public service. In high school, I served as a congressional page, and in college, I studied political science and public administration and interned for my local Congressman in Washington, D.C. Additionally, my aunt, Rose Hom, served as a Judge on the Superior Court in Los Angeles for several decades and was one of the first Asian American women appointed to the bench in the County. So, I also grew up around the law.
Last question, you recently hosted a cooking demonstration for the Los Angeles office, what went into that?
My wife is a professionally trained chef and taught me much about cooking. We have a 16-month-old at home and because of quarantine we really can’t go out, so we enjoyed cooking together and exploring different cuisines.
When the LA Office found out about my love of cooking, they asked me to host a cooking class over Zoom. A few months ago we held a fun teambuilding cooking class and made roasted Cornish game hens with roasted root vegetables and a matching cocktail. We sent out the shopping list a week before so everyone could get the ingredients and cook along. The dishes could be made in an hour, so by the end of the Zoom session everyone had dinner and a drink. It was a ton of fun and I feel I got to know my colleagues much better.
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