Thursday, September 2, 2010

An idea for a legal service

This service would create a social portrait of the defendant (or plaintiff, for that matter) and present it to the lawyer.

Why would this service be better than a paralegal, whom the lawyer can task with doing the research? At the paralegal's rate of $100/hour, a computerized service can compete on price, and outsourcing this may be too sensitive. In addition, the service could
  • Provide nicely-formatted, standard reports;
  • Search thoroughly, and not omit any of the hundreds of social sites;
  • Keep a history in the changes in the profile, which may be telling.
I remember a lawyer who found what he needed about the opposing side's defendant by discovering his profile on a Greek singles site. This was a unique achievement by that individual, but a service would make such feats dependable and reproducible. It can also collect defensible evidence in the process.

The suggested name for the service is "Watson."

Why is it OK to discuss this idea in the open? Because anyone can come up with this or a similar idea, and it is the implementation of it that would be a competitive secret. It needs to include
  • Scalable, cloud-based architecture, that can expand on demand and provide pay-only-for-resources-used charges;
  • Rules-based engine with dozens or hundreds of rules of research, based on the case and individual's profile;
  • Specialized text- and image-analytics,  such as image search, blog and articles understanding, etc.;
  • Of course, crawling that avoids being invasive and being blocked by search engines and the social sites.
Art: Sidney Paget - Nothing could be better, said Holmes, illustration from 'The Stockbrokers Clerk by Arthur Conan Doyle 1859-1930, published in Strand Magazine, March 1893