Narrative Science is a Chicago based company that makes a software program called Quill.
What can Quill do? At bottom, Quill can analyze large amounts of data and write stories based on that data. Most importantly, it can do so without human input.
“Quill applies complex and sophisticated artificial intelligence algorithms that extract the key facts and interesting insights from the data and transforms them into stories. The resulting content is as good or better than your best analyst, and is produced at a scale and speed only possible with technology – technology that is now patented.“
“Next, Quill evaluates the facts and conclusions it has discovered and determines which are more (or less) relevant than others. Only the most important interpretations are included in the final output for any given story.“
“Finally, Quill’s natural language, visualization and rendering engines generate the text, graphics, layouts and styles for each story. During this process, Quill incorporates variability, expressiveness and uniqueness into every element, as if it were written by a skilled writer or analyst.“
Imagine if the appellate practice in your law firm could produce perfectly written and well researched briefs in a fraction of the time it currently takes. Based on what I have heard from several appellate practitioners, it takes about one week to produce a submission ready brief. This technology could allow them to produce submission ready briefs in days, maybe even hours.
Or what about 50-state surveys? Law firms could use Quill to instantly research and write memos on specific areas of law. In fact, Quill can be programmed to auto update clients with perfectly written work product at particular time intervals ( per day, per week, per month etc.).
Mark Harris, the co-founder of Axiom Law, says that the key to the future of the legal services industry is eliminating the trade off between the cost of providing legal services and their quality. See Mark Harris on The Future of Legal Services Industry. This is a major step toward achieving that vision. Law firms can now produce work product with the same, if not better quality, at a lower price. The most expensive part of providing legal services is “paying for the attorney’s time.” Quill eliminates a large chunk of the attorney time that would otherwise be needed to produce great work product.
What place will lawyers have in a future that includes technology like Quill? The answer remains unclear. But I think we may be able to gain some insight by looking at the “non-technical” employees that Narrative Science is hiring. What skills do they have? How are they adding value?
Keelin McDonnell is an Editorial Director at Narrative Science. Some choice quotes about her job are below and can be seen in a video interview on Narrative Science’s website. (click here to see video)
“My entire career was really this mix of writing, communication and ideas. . . “
“The jobs in the editorial department are really multi-faceted. . . writing is a component of it, but there are other components like problem solving, some programming involved. . . there is alot of collaboration with the engineers that requires a fairly sophisticated understanding of the technology and a real willingness to throw yourself into it. The Editorial Team really consists of these content architects that are contributing to the writing, contributing to the vocabulary of the system but are also driving the platform development to make it more useful to people. . . They are really serving as a proxy for the reader and the client and coming up with ideas to make our content better and our system better, so that it can create better content“
“The platform we have developed is constantly evolving and improving. I am amazed that the progress we have made. . . But this means that things are constantly in flux. The kind of person who will succeed here is one who can adapt to those constant changes. . . and frankly, can drive them!“
Therefore, if attorneys want to remain relevant then we need to:
1. Learn to collaborate with non-lawyers, especially engineers
2. Learn programming & adopt more technology
3. Be more empathetic
4. Embrace change and drive it