Jake Heller, head of Product, CoCounsel, for Thomson Reuters recently joined Mosheh Poltorak to talk about the evolution of Casetext and how AI is transforming the legal landscape. Legal Current listened to their conversation to share highlights from the Product Market Fit podcast.

Their discussion kicked off with a look at how Casetext grew from inception to acquisition.

A Long-Term Bet on AI

“We weren’t always the leader in AI for law,” Heller said.

He said Casetext initially delivered a research offering for large law firms. But he pivoted after listening to customer feedback – and finding unexpected success with smaller firms and solo practitioners – and recognizing the potential of AI to shape legal services.

“We had very early access to GPT-4, and we were really early users of that model and believed strongly that it’s going to make a huge impact on the practice of law,” Heller said. “But even before GPT-4, we were applying our own large language models to make things like searching for information in legal contexts much better.”

Heller made a strategic decision to leverage advancements in emerging technologies.

“We kept on pushing the boundaries of what was doable,” he said of their early efforts to automate work. “We made a long-term bet that artificial intelligence was going to make an enormous impact on legal and we ended up being right, and in some ways, got kind of lucky with the timing.”

The result of Casetext’s pivot was CoCounsel, an AI-driven assistant for lawyers. In 2023, Thomson Reuters acquired Casetext as part of its build, buy, and partner strategy to bring generative AI solutions to its customers as quickly as possible.

“They [Thomson Reuters] saw an opportunity to apply what we were doing in a much bigger scale and to do it much better, backed by their content,” Heller said. “And it made all the sense in the world.”

Now, integrating CoCounsel into the Thomson Reuters portfolio is enabling the company to redefine the future of professionals through applications of generative AI.

Transformative Technology

Heller and Poltorak discussed the transformative role of AI technology, noting it will improve efficiencies in legal services by automating tasks – such as contract review, legal research, and document analysis – and reducing costs.

Heller said leveraging AI tools will enable legal professionals and firms to streamline processes, offer better value to clients, and even potentially increase their revenue.

He emphasized that legal professionals who don’t embrace AI risk falling behind and may struggle to compete effectively in the market. Heller said in the next five years, using AI will be as common as using smartphones and email to practice law.

“It’s going to be impossible to not use it,” Heller said. “It’s so powerful.”

Human Experience and Expertise

As AI and generative AI technologies continues to advance, they’re reshaping the legal landscape. Yet Heller emphasized that combining emerging technologies with human expertise will be key to helping legal professionals work better, faster, and smarter.

“Large language models are currently trained on a bunch of written text from books, websites, and so on,” Heller said. “But there is a lot that you cannot learn from books, websites, and so on – like how to read a face during a trial. Is this person lying or not? That kind of intuition gained by the expertise of living in the real world has an insane amount of value.”

Listen to the full Product Market Fit podcast for more of Heller’s insights.

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