This case study shows how a prominent litigation firm leveraged technology during the pandemic to boost its writing game, associate development, and client service.
CASE STUD Y
BOWMAN AND BROOKE LLP USES BRIEFCATCH TO Ride Waves of Civil Cases During Pandemic
One such firm, Bowman and Brooke LLP, rose to the challenge with fresh thinking and carefully selected technology. A nationally recognized law firm with one of the largest product liability practices in the country, the firm was recently ranked by Chambers USA for the twelfth consecutive year in the Nationwide Product Liability & Mass Tort category, which cited the firm’s “dedicated product liability defense firm, fielding a deep trial bench ” (2021).
As COVID-19 swept across the country, courthouses were forced to shut their doors. To maintain access to justice, federal, state, and municipal court systems moved swiftly to digitize processes and accommodate remote proceedings. By March 2020, all 50 states and Washington, D.C. began adopting state-wide and local rules to govern digital operations, shifting civil court business online in two areas:
moving to virtual hearings and digitizing practical tasks that litigants must complete before a hearing — such as preparing and tendering court documents. The move to technology has made it much easier for litigants to file cases in bulk, causing a surge in new cases and adding to a nationwide backlog of cases that predates the pandemic. These exploding dockets hit trial firms especially hard, forcing civil defense attorneys to develop new workflows and new technology tools to work faster and more efficiently.
“ Writing briefs and contracts using AI makes our attorneys be highly productive, gives them focus, helps them hit their deadlines, and saves client money. ”
Like many firms, Bowman and Brooke has leveraged new technology to respond to the recent surge in cases. “We’re constantly working to increase our efficiency,” says Chris Austin, the firm’s director of information governance. While many firms have focused on developing better processes related to e-filing and virtual proceedings, for Bowman and Brooke, the latest tech evolution also meant looking for more efficient and effective ways to write briefs. To help meet this goal, the firm has standardized on using BriefCatch, a Microsoft Word add-in that offers legal-specific editing suggestions to writers in real time. BriefCatch not only catches common mistakes, but also provides feedback on the readability and flow of an entire document. It even generates a tailored strengths-and-weaknesses report.
tools because it makes me a better writer and helps me train junior attorneys to be better writers, all while saving clients’ money. In seconds, BriefCatch can perform a strong first-round edit that would take me an hour or more to perform by hand, pointing out everything from mechanical inconsistencies ( e.g. , you capitalized “Plaintiff “ here but not here) to suggesting ways to clarify and simplify writing.”
Incorporating 11,000+ expla- nations and examples from top lawyers and judges, BriefCatch is based on the work of legal writing coach Ross Guberman. He has conducted thousands of writing and editing workshops around the world for firms, agencies, and courts. Guberman is also a bestselling author and the judiciary’s choice to train new federal judges. He was a lawyer at a top firm and a former law-school adjunct professor.
Heitz points out that BriefCatch is teaching her to write better initial drafts. “Over time, I have internal -
ized common BriefCatch edits to make my first drafts stron ger. Now, before associates submit any written work to me for review, I tell them that they must run BriefCatch and revise their work until each of their scores is green.This way, I can devote my time , and the client resources that come along with it, to reviewing and refining substantive legal arguments.”
“ In seconds, B riefCatch can perform a strong first-round edit that would take me an hour or more to perform by hand. ”
“Efficient writing is at the
heart of lawyer and firm success,” says Guberman. “BriefCatch features the latest in natural
language processing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to help make writing that much easier. We mine this data to fine-tune both our editing rules and our BriefCatch sc oring system, which lets lawyers compare their drafts with the writing of such luminaries as Paul Clement, Elena Kagan, and Antonin Scalia.” Since it is technology for lawyers built by lawyers, BriefCatch is simple yet effective at providing in-app guidance. Amanda Heitz, a partner at Bowman and Brooke, is an enthusiastic proponent. “Effective and efficient legal writingis one of my top practice priorities,” she says. “BriefCatch is one of my favorite
“Bowman and Brooke uses sophisticated technology at nearly all stages of litigation, including AI research systems and powerful legal analytics,” say Austin. “BriefCatch takes the timeless craft of legal writing and not only makes it more efficient but simultaneously improves the quality. It gives intelligent suggestions, such as using stronger language to drive home a point or softening the language to keep it simple. These subtle articulations in writing can often be the overriding factor for an attorney. ” Using BriefCatch is just another example of Bowman and Brooke bringing its best to court every day.
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