‘Clients can’t afford for us to work harder; we have to work smarter for them’

Efficiency the only way forward for the legal profession, says Alexi's Tamar Friedman

‘Clients can’t afford for us to work harder; we have to work smarter for them’

This article was created in partnership with Alexi

When Tamar Friedman articled with and was hired back at Ontario’s Crown Law Office – Civil, she admits she was “quite spoiled” in terms of training. Institutional clients meant a lot of flexibility: she could work on something until she was satisfied she had the right answer, and if that meant dedicating 30 hours to a certain research project that was OK because she didn’t have to worry about making a law firm profitable. But Friedman’s next step in her career brought her to a place where the exact opposite was true: she started her own law practice providing unbundled legal services and law coaching to self-represented litigants in civil litigation, and suddenly she went from having all the time in the world to dive into an issue to a situation where every second counted.

“At that point, I was offering self-reps legal research and helping them navigate procedural rules,” says Friedman. “That was my first exposure to a non-institutional client and having to be much more aware of the time I’m spending on something because legal fees are extremely difficult for the average person to afford.”

During this time Friedman was also a contractor with Alexi Inc., a legal research software that leverages the power of Artificial Intelligence to rapidly generate quality memos to any legal question, saving lawyers time and expense. As a research lawyer tasked with working alongside the AI to create the comprehensive memos, Friedman is impressed by the quality and thoroughness of the software’s work but she’s most excited by the cost savings it provides. The average billable rate of a Toronto lawyer is around $240 plus HST and one legal memo from Alexi is approximately $300, meaning if a lawyer plans on spending more than one hour researching a topic it’s already more efficient to submit the question to Alexi – and you can trust if there’s something to be found on a legal database or in CanLii, the team of research lawyers and the software’s advanced AI will find it.

As a litigator, Friedman finds Alexi to be instrumental in a few stages of litigation including at the start of a claim. While litigators have a good sense of what is negligence and the bread-and-butter torts, sometimes the claim deals with a developing area, there are updates to be aware of – for example, in February a new tort was created about family violence in the Superior Court ­– or it includes an allegation that the lawyer hasn’t had as much exposure to. Alexi is a great tool for those situations because it provides a helpful summary of the relevant legal principles, and an up-to-date picture on the what the law is saying in your jurisdiction bolsters confidence that you’re starting your claim off on sound footing.

Another stage is when you’re bringing any kind of motion or application and need to prepare a factum. An Alexi memo is helpful, and “we’re hoping to develop a format to plug it into a factum directly and automate that,” Friedman notes. A memo is also helpful for legal drafting at a motion or application stage, as well as for damages.

“If you’re writing a pretrial brief or a mediation brief, having the most recent collection of analogous damages cases is a fast and efficient way to get that without doing it yourself,” she says. “Sometimes lawyers ask Hail Mary-type questions that are very specific and might be disappointing if nothing comes up, but that’s also an answer in itself – the law hasn’t spoken to that very specific issue yet and it’s helpful to know that.”

Friedman went full-time at Alexi in May and she finds her role offers many benefits in terms of her professional development. Every day she learns about different areas of law and the memos she sifts through are often relevant to other things she’s working on. She can leverage the knowledge for the police accountability law she does with another firm, and in her private practice which she’s continued with part-time. It’s also changed the way she writes factums – she’s faster and her factums are much clearer because the way she deals with caselaw is different as a result of working at Alexi. 

While the software company is focused on the legal professional market right now, Friedman’s hope is one day Alexi will have a suite of AI products for self-represented litigants which she says would be “a remarkable transformation for access to justice.”

“I’m not a traditionalist – I’ve gone into law coaching for self-reps, many other lawyers wouldn’t do that – and I’m most concerned about how I can spend my time in a way that’s helping people,” she says. “I truly believe in efficiency, which is something Alexi stands for, and it’s the only way forward for the legal profession. It has to be, because our clients can’t afford for us to work harder; we have to work smarter for them.”

To any lawyer who’s skeptical about Alexi, Friedman’s advice is simple: just try it. The company offers on-demand services alongside its subscription model, so you can purchase one memo without obligation to see what Alexi is capable of – and what Alexi delivers is something Friedman stands behind 100%.

“If it doesn’t make your life easier,” she says succinctly. “I would be surprised.”

Alexi provides high-quality answers to complex legal questions at scale. We are a team of AI scientists and lawyers advancing the state-of-the-art in how artificial intelligence is being applied to the law.

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