Episode 9: AI Exits and Perspectives: A Conversation with Casetext Co-Founders Jake Heller and Laura Safdie on Building a LegalTech Startup and its Acquisition by Thomson Reuters
 43 min listen

The explosion of generative AI product offerings has stoked interest in AI acquisitions – including the $650 million acquisition of legal AI company Casetext by Thomson Reuters, one of the 10 largest AI and machine learning mergers in the first half of 2023.

What do founders need to know about the opportunities and risks of starting and scaling an AI-based company?

Join Casetext co-founders Jake Heller, CEO, and Laura Safdie, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, as they talk with Orrick's Mark Seneca about the fast-evolving world of AI startups and exits. They discuss:

  • Their path from working for law firms to entrepreneurship and their inspiration for pursuing Casetext, a leader in supplying AI solutions to the law (2:07)
  • Lessons learned from building and commercializing Casetext (13:14)
  • The decision-making process behind the sale of Casetext to Thomson Reuters (23:04)
  • How LegalTech will both change and create opportunities in the legal industry (30:46)
  • Mark: Hello, everyone. My name is Mark Seneca. I'm the head of Orrick’s sell-side M&A practice and co-head of our global M&A and private equity group. I've been practicing technology M&A in Silicon Valley for nearly three decades and have had the opportunity over that time to help sell hundreds of venture-backed companies to many of the most active serial acquirers and acquisitive unicorns in the technology space, including, most recently, two important deals in the AI space – the first being the $1.3 billion sale of Mosaic ML to Databricks, which was the subject of our recent podcast with Mosaic's founder and CEO, Naveen Rao – and the second being the $650 million sale of Casetext to Thomson Reuters, the closing of which was announced just a few weeks ago. 

    I'm thrilled to be joined today by Casetext’s co-founders, Jake Heller, CEO, and Laura Safdie, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel. Jake and Laura, welcome to our podcast.
    Jake & Laura:

    Thanks for having us.


    As we were talking about before, you know, in the aftermath of the chaotic process of selling a company, you guys’ immune systems were compromised a bit. You've both come down with COVID and other illnesses. So again, appreciate you joining us and sharing some of your story with our audience. It's been great to work with you on the Thomson Reuters transaction and more broadly for our team, and we’re honored to have worked with Casetext through your startup and growth phases as well as being an early customer of Casetext in testing and utilizing your generative AI offering, CoCounsel. 

    With the recent explosion of product offerings and uses of generative AI as well as the associated risks, lawsuits and regulatory uncertainty surrounding this new technology, our audience is very interested in both your story and your insights on where generative AI is heading, particularly in the legal tech space. Let's start at the beginning of your entrepreneurship path. Obviously, no one informed the two of you that lawyers are, per se, risk averse. What were each of you doing before founding Casetext, and what inspired you to pursue a startup in legal tech?


    I propose that Jake as the risky one answer first and I as the risk-averse one will answer second.




    We were actually both practicing law at large law firms before doing Casetext. But long before that I had grown up here in Silicon Valley. I had been coding since I was a kid and I loved building things and I really kind of kept that passion. Even as I went to law school and clerkship and practicing law. And I found myself, while a litigation associate, continually building technology products to make my life, my colleagues’ life better. And I think that was one hint that I should probably be doing something a little bit different than just practicing law. And what's funny is I had the idea behind the original vision Casetext for a while, I wouldn't stop talking about it. And eventually my wife basically said, Listen, dude, either you stop talking about this or do something about it. And it's actually just that one conversation where I decided, you know what, I think it's time to just give this thing a shot. And what's funny, Mark, is that when I started Casetext, I am definitely the more risk-taking of the two between Laura and I. And I was like, what's the worst that could possibly happen? Leave this job and maybe I'll just come back and be a lawyer a couple of years.

    One option that I didn't realize existed, I thought, you know, it's either going to be a smashing success immediately or, you know, will flame out and I go back to practicing law in just a couple of years, hopefully somebody would take me back. I didn't realize there's a third option where you work really, really, really, hard for ten years, getting slightly better, incrementally better and better until you finally have success. And so it surprised me in retrospect compared to where I thought I would be going, the beginning that took as long as it did. But you know that saying that every Silicon Valley success is a ten-year overnight success rate. And I think that's true of us.


    Laura, how did Jake cajole you into going down this path?


    Oh, I wish I could say that he was trying to cajole me, but I think it just became obvious to both of us at some point. Like Jake said, I was practicing law. I was a litigator at Simpson Thatcher in New York. But both of us had had kind of parallel paths. We both went to law school, different schools at the same time. We both clerked. We both worked in federal government, kind of all around the same era. And I also was while I was litigating, you know, I experienced firsthand some of the challenges and opportunities inherent in the work that we do as attorneys and the kind of tools that we were used to working with. And I also saw, you know, from the other side, I had had a background in government and policy, and I had expected to go back into policy work, the kind that had massive implications for access to justice, of not having access to kind of baseline legal information and the power of technology to democratize access to the law itself. 

    And so I was just going about my business, just assuming that the status quo is the status quo. But Jake had this really compelling vision for how you can leverage technology and advance data science and machine learning at that time to create scalable ways of interacting with legal information. And I thought, Wow, that's brilliant. You should definitely go do that. I'm going to be over here in my law firm job and I'm just going to keep my head down and keep doing what I'm doing. 

    But after a while I just thought it was so interesting and I kept engaging with him and following him through the seed fundraising stage and giving both solicited and unsolicited advice. And I think eventually we both were like, okay, same deal. Like either I need to stop obsessing over this thing Jake is doing or I should quit my job and do it. And so that's what I did. And same with Jake. You know, I, I figured, okay, well, this is this is the time in my life to take this kind of risk and probably in a couple of years, I'll be back at the firm and, and it'll be fine, it'll be a fun story we tell our grandkids one day. Ultimately we both kind of fell in love with this opportunity and fell in love with the team we were building and really care and saw it through I suppose. 


    How long we, out of curiosity, was that gestation process where you were both kind of obsessing over it? Was that a few years? I mean, what was the time period for thinking about it, agonizing whether you could do it and then actually jumping in?


    For me, it was it's funny. I don't remember exactly, but I think it was pretty quick. I think it was something like had the idea sometime in law school practice for a few years and then realized as I thought more and more about this, we just actually got to do it and I it it's funny I was really agonizing about it per se, about whether to make the decision or not. As soon as I, you know, had that conversation with my wife to make the decision, I think I approached the firm. The full story here is that I proposed with Ropes and Gray was that I would just build it inside Ropes and Gray, I'd be an associate, but I also just do this thing as well. And they weren’t having any of it; they were like, are you not billing enough hours, kid? Do we need to get you more work? The idea that you want to kind of build tech product too… No, I'm just like working on this stuff, I'll do it in my spare time. And so they weren’t enthralled with that idea, of me building it within the law firm context. And so it reached a decision point. Do I, you know, build it or continue on as a kind of traditional legal practice? And decided to build it.


    You guys have alluded a little bit to democratization of legal services. Talk a little bit more about what your vision was for case text from the outset. And then over that ten-year period, which, you know, just because I know the path and we've had some of these conversations independent of this podcast, that that was quite the surprise in terms of that length of perseverance and the ups and downs to get to the recent transaction that kind of culminated that ten year period. How did how did the vision start out and how did that evolve over that period of time?


    From day one, the vision was always around how do we use the most, the best cutting-edge technology to provide, you know, attorneys the capability of providing better, more efficient and more affordable services to their clients. But what that cutting edge technology was and the kinds of things we intended to do for our clients through our attorneys, really shifted over time. 

    So in the very beginning, the vision was really focused around how do we enable attorneys to get access to information typically then only done by the big publishing companies like Westlaw, LexisNexis, and Fastcase is also making a really big kind of inroads there. How do we, like, scale access to information and make it more affordable, more efficient, etc.? And at the time, the cutting-edge technology that everybody was talking about was crowdsourcing. This is the era of Facebook just about to go public. You know, businesses obviously, you know, well, Instagram, but also StackOverflow and GitHub and Wikipedia itself were all kind of inspirations for us. And before artificial intelligence and natural language processing was any good, we tried to essentially crowdsource a lot of that information to build out better databases, deeper, you know, richer databases, done more affordably and scalability than anybody else. And that went in. I'd say, fits and starts, but ultimately did not work. 

    Our real breakthroughs happened when the state of the art, natural language processing and artificial intelligence technologies matured more and more and more over time so that we would not have to rely on crowdsourcing elements to create a great experience for our customers and it's funny to reflect on in retrospect, it's unclear to me still to this day whether a GitHub or StackOverflow or similar resource for lawyers was just never going to work for lawyers the way it did for, say, engineers, or whether it is in executing right perfectly or some combination of the two. But again, in retrospect, it almost didn't matter because, you know, the as we were kind of unable to get the kind of scale you need to crowdsourcing legal information, we're able to use natural language processing and artificial intelligence to fill in for a lot of those gaps and to create really great experiences for our customers.


    I mean, the one caveat I'll say to that, though, is that 100% true on our original approach, which was to get unique content, which we had some very, very thoughtful and substantive content. But the scale you would need to annotate the law with unique content was just massive. That said, lawyers do in fact write a lot already, and there is a lot of really substantive, valuable information out there.

    And I think one of the early innovations that case techs brought was to connect that existing content to the legal sources themselves. So I think our big breakthrough before to Jake's good point about the developments in ML that really transformed our ability to scale access to this kind of secondary information. At the beginning it was simply taking the information that was out there and using intelligent ways of annotating the law with it.

    So that meant that when you were engaging with legal content, you were also seeing what leaders at Orrick thought about the latest case that was on the topic of a recent M&A, for instance. And so that I thought was a breakthrough. But that kind of doesn't really change the ultimate point, which is just we kind of stayed in the game quite a long time and learned lessons and pivoted and pivoted until we kind of found the path that got our customers what they needed out of this tool.


    That segues into another question. Taking a step back from legal tech and what you were trying to solve for just the experience of, you know, building a company, modifying, as you described, what the focus is and what the market opportunity was over a ten year period and all the ups and downs and uncertainty about the path that you embarked on and whether there was going to be a, you know, “payday” and all the sweat equity that you put into it.

    What lessons have you learned through that process that would be instructive to other entrepreneurs, other folks in your position that are either contemplating embarking on a startup that, as you guys have reflected in the aftermath of the sale transaction, what would you share with that community?


    So Mark, the first thing is I would I would freeze the kind of history here a little bit different action. And the way I think about it is, is not that we kind of cut or modify our vision or the mission has actually stayed relatively stable throughout the entire ten years. And what we really pivoted around was how what technologies we're going to use, what information we want to bring in, etc.

    But I think maybe one piece of advice for anybody embarking on this is choose a mission you really care about. In our case, it's about improving the legal profession so that that lawyer is going to turn better, serve their clients through more affordable, more efficient and higher quality representation. And using technology to help their that that's a thing that that we both and I think everybody who came with us on this journey really cared about. And so even when one particular implementation of it wasn't working out super well, that didn't really matter. Frankly, even the pay day wasn't something we all really thought about that frequently, if really at all. It's just about how do we help our customers achieve what they want to achieve and how, you know, we got really excited about we saw our customers succeed. That's what got us really excited when we saw making kind of steps for that mission. So that's one piece of advice is to pick something you really care about because it might take ten years, may take longer than ten years. You know, there's a reason why there's a saying around, you know, that the “ten year” overnight success.

    And I think part of that is the ability these kinds of companies turn out to be very hard, having thousands of conversations with your customers until you really home in on the value proposition. There may be underlying technology that you need to develop or the state-of-the-art technology to stop, either for you to fully realize your vision. All those things may be true and you have to stick with it for sometimes, especially in our case, a very long time and do it happily right? Like be really excited to show up for work every single day for ten years, even while things are working. And if you're not like that, then it's not going to work out, you know, potentially great unless you have a quick success.

    And so I think that's maybe one piece of advice reflecting on these ten years is you have to have a certain stick-to-itiveness and you get that from working on something you really care about and working with people you really care about. And that that makes the quote unquote lack of an immediate payday or whether it be there will be a payday, you know, much, much easier.
    A few other quick pieces of advice, again, like that. But the mission and vision staying constant throughout other things that that are just universal truths, like putting the customer first and building up an incredibly good support and success ecosystem for your clients. Even if you're going to pivot the product or change or the product, does over time, if you have customers who fall in love with working with you, they're going to be customers for life and they're going to be the kinds of customers you're going to give you feedback on your next new idea or the next new technology that's going to make or break, whether it's a actually successful implementation of that technology. And I think those relationships ended up becoming the most important thing that we did over the course of those ten years. And brand really matters. I think we maybe even before CoCounsel these decks became associated with innovation, with great customer success and service, with, you know, not falling for kind of best friends, being very straight up and honest with our clients.

    Even frankly, when it didn't help us to do so, we were like, we could have easily bought into earlier hype waves around things like I chose not to because we didn't see that the technology is quite there yet. And I think that gave us a lot of credibility and put the brand in a good position so that when we were finally ready to seize our moment, it, you know, we weren't burdened by any negative brand impression. And to the contrary, I think we were really bolstered by already having 10,000 clients, including 60 of the largest law firms in the country, and already having a very good reputation and brand for being good people to work with.


    I second everything and I'll reinforce that this concept of like working toward a payday just like is not in our DNA and wasn't how we thought about the business at all. And it wasn't the people we attracted to the business at all. Our approach was we are buying into a vision and a mission that we personally care a lot about, and we want to build value, of course, but we're there to deliver value for our customers, for the legal community.

    We're there to do work that we care about. So obviously, you know, we have investors and we want to deliver for them as well. I'm not saying this was just a passion project, but at the same time we always used to joke like there are much easier ways for Jake and I to make money. This was about a lot more than that.

    We wanted to build something sustaining. We wanted to build something of value. We wanted to show that you can do it differently within the legal community and provide lawyers with tools that help them. I mean, a lawyer's job, I don't have to tell you, is just incredibly impactful for individuals. For companies, it really matters. And so it matters that they have access to the best tools that help them do the best work. We really care about that. And so in terms of advice for folks starting out, I would not get into this planning as if you're flipping a house, right? Like how do you make a quick exit, right? You want to engage with a mission that you care about that you think is worthwhile. That's worth the long hours and the long nights and the weekends, the time away from family, because you're going to have all of that.

    If you're going to build something, building something new, it's just hard and you need to do it for the right reasons. And so I think that's something that we've always kind of had and that has served us well. We never thought of any kind of merger, acquisition as the end of the story. It's just a different chapter in a story. So for us, it's not like, you know, we worked really hard for ten years and suddenly this is done quite the contrary. We, as you know, had a lot of opportunities to take a different path, to raise more funding and to go it alone and we made the decision when we had this opportunity that, again, serving kind of our really consistent mission and vision for the company, it would be better served backed by Thomson Reuters content, their experience, their team.

    And so for us this is just a different chapter but very much focused on the same ultimate goals and ambitions, which is to deliver the best technology to the legal space, which for us is one of the most. You can't imagine an industry that more deserves to be served with the leading technology to help us do our jobs for our clients. Better so not to sound like too idealistic about it, but that's genuinely what we believe in terms of kind of an operational kind of piece of advice for folks starting out, I will say just be radically focused on getting top people around you. For us, I think hiring excellent leadership around us to lead every functional organization and you're not going to get it right every time or the first time every time, but you better get it right eventually.

    Bring on people who care deeply about your mission. Bring on people who are incredibly smart and who have a lot of grit because again, doing something new is quite hard. And so you don't really get to sail your way into this. You have to have a team that works well together. We have this value at the company. Honest feedback. What that really means is a belief that we have to be honest with each other. We have to be direct with each other because we're never going to do these hard things well together if we aren't. And so for us, it was starters of a great people who our mission aligns and do your do your damnedest to build something new with them. And so that's kind of, you know.


    The consistent theme in having these types of conversations with founders and working through the building process and, and the sale process is that that passion. And Jake, what impressed me on what you said, it's not just having the passion yourself, but it's, it's selling that passion and portraying that passion in building both your internal team and your client network and getting the feedback loop that you described that allows you to pivot and adjust and stay true to the, the, the thesis for why you engaged in the process in the first place, but be able to shift and make adjustments along the way that allow you to implement and execute on that, that purpose. So that's very interesting. I didn't mean to be overly materialistic in referring to a payday, but I do know what it takes to go through this process, how hard it is to build a company. All the sacrifices that you alluded to, Laura, and what you said and I tell my kids, just like you here in big sports, you got to love the process.

    Life isn't about or success isn't about the destination. You reached the destination as a result of loving the process. What was it about Thomson Reuters and combining with them and what you could do as a combined company and taking CoCounsel and combining it with one of the leading providers of legal research and content. What is it that you're most excited about in the next chapter of being a combined?


    So I wouldn't jump into that. But actually we're going to build on something you just said, which I totally agree. Two things I totally agree with. Also great pieces of advice for folks looking to start companies or building companies. The first is, look, I've been haystacks as a 16 year, $50 million. We were never that much about 100 people at the company.

    So you don't need to hire the whole world, right? You need to grow into the thousands of employees you need to find. You make yourself attractive also to every client. Right. We had 10,000, 50,000 or so clients out of a million and have lawyers. Right. So what you do to find the people and clients who are passionate, what you're passionate about and I think a mistake a lot of people make is they want to make themselves attractive to everyone.

    What actually you need to find the 100 or 200 or 300 people who were just as crazy as you are. But the thing you care about and about the process, I also want to just build on that. I reflected this a lot because when you watch a sports player play a game, for example, you're watching the conclusion of that process. You're seeing them. They make it look easy and they make it look really fun and simple and they just, you know, just catch the ball and run with it. And they're avoiding all that. You know, what you don't see when you're watching a game is the 100,000, you know, times they've shot a free throw or, you know, that that 100 times they've run a drill that simulated that exact situation.

    And I think building a company is very similar. A lot of, you know, including myself, when I was a young entrepreneur, I listen to podcasts like this and watch people on a stage or watch them sell their company. And they made it look really easy. And where you didn't see is the sometimes decade worth of work that it got them to be where they were as an entrepreneur, as a person. And you didn't see the decade of work that they went into building their company mistakes, lessons learned, tough conversations with clients. And you let them down because your technology didn't live up to X, Y or Z. Expectation rebuilding it from the ground up, letting go of a great executive because it's worth it for your culture and having to go re hire that person or that role two or three times. Right? All of those things are things you just don't see and that's the real work and you have to level that to your point. So I just wanted to say you're totally right about that reflection in terms of Thomson Reuters law hit the nail on the head on a lot of these things are really the thesis here is you take our technology and I think we were and still are some of the best in the world at using large language models like Jeopardy for to create compelling products and legal and for professionals.

    So you take our technology expertise and the current state of our technology CoCounsel and you marry it with a very respectable for a technology operation within Thomson Reuters. As it stands plus amazing content plus reach into essentially every legal customer plus lessons learned serving those clients for over 100 years. Right in one form of another. And you have a really, really good platform for us to continue our mission and vision with.

    And that's what was so compelling about this, this exit opportunity. And all agents are the same. Some of them are clearly just to, you know, buy the product and kind of warehouse the product and get the team. Some members of the team, some acquisitions are about maybe a soft landing for the founders and nothing else. And it's hard to tell the outside headlines what kind of acquisitions they are, right? And I'm sure, Mark, you've seen them all in our case. This is one of those things where in some ways, the way I evaluate this is an alternative to fundraising, where we could have fundraised, we could have raised 50 million or more from a subset of fantastic investors. And in terms of accomplishing what we what we wanted to accomplish, the path here with Thomson Reuters wasn't just great for shareholders.

    It was also great for our customers and also great for our employees and also great for our mission and vision. And that made it a much more compelling and of that decision here. You know, the fact that bringing on all of our employees and the fact that we are continuing the product in substantially the same form, just empowered by their content and their team and their wisdom, the fact that, you know, we're just a few weeks into integration, but it's already very obvious that we have something to bring to the table. Of course, that's why they bought us. But they're going to be bringing so much to the ability to accomplish really, really big goals together. I think is has been a really validating, really exciting to see.


    Building on that. Also in terms of the mission, I mean, part of what we're focused on is just creating the very best legal assistant and that will be dramatically empowered or facilitated by their team, their expertise, their content as well as ours. But there's also things that as a small company, we just did not have the bandwidth to do that we suddenly that are suddenly just like unlocked in a way that is incredibly exciting for Jake and I and the rest of the team.

    So, for instance, one thing that we had focused on early was among the clients that we worked closely with were certainly legal aid organizations because we believe that one subset of the legal community that will be dramatically well-served by this advent and A.I. that can handle substantive legal tasks is legal aid, which is a critical function in society, which is always under under-funded and under-resourced and is limited by those limitations and the ability to leverage AI directly to serve more people.

    So, for instance, we would work with folks that are representing employees directly who don't have access to larger law firms or, you know, the legal aid organization, the California Innocence Project, that works with folks who are imprisoned, that claim that they were wrongfully imprisoned. There is just so much opportunity. And we could just barely scratched the surface, despite the fact that something was very important to us from a mission perspective.

    And the great thing about Thomson Reuters, we kind of flagged this work early and we said this is really important to us and they were all about it and they're like, this is important to us too. And we love the concept of leaning into this. And they have their Traurig Foundation where they're also investing in pro-bono legal aid work.

    And so the idea that this isn't the end of that kind of work, but really maybe just the beginning that we can do more of it better and better resourced was something that was also super compelling to us. So there's obviously like the core product vision, which is of course our main focus. But for those of us who are involved in Case X, because we really think that it can change the world and change the way that lawyers practice law, it's just like the sky seems to be the limit.

    And so we're just very excited about the opportunities in that regard as well.


    I'm curious, just given your involvement not only in developing your company, but I think you're both very thoughtful in terms of the broader generative landscape. I've been told that, you know, as a lawyer, I'll soon be replaced by a chat bot that is more intelligent.


    Not true, Mark, not true at all. [laughs]

    Mark: And I'm also impressed just in our own clientele and more broadly, the fact that legal tech is an industry unto itself. It's a subset of areas where AI is coming into play. What are your thoughts just on the broad legal tech industry and how transformative an effect technology will or could have on the legal industry?

    So big picture, what I think you're seeing with these new models is for the first time ever, a computer that can read and understand and reason and write all at a very, very high level, like a postgraduate level.


    And I told you, I can only do like two or three of those five tasks, so I'm in trouble.


    I wouldn’t worry about yourself. But the reason I get to the second and you know, what do you do when all of a sudden you have computers which you can parallelize? We can have like a thousand processes running at the same time for about an issue, right? That works superhuman speeds. We're able to do all these things at a high level of reliability and accuracy.

    The answer that we believe is the right answer is you start to find ways to delegate some of these tasks to an AI in a way that you might delegate to say a junior paralegal or a legal assistant to take it off the plate of the attorney. There's a lot of rote work that we as attorneys do, even less real work, less than rote, but still difficult work that we do as attorneys, whether it be like going from the initial term sheet to a first draft of a of a contract, for example, like that first draft, reviewing documents, reviewing contracts for compliance with the company’s policy, all that stuff.

    We think now as a first come to be delegated to an area and that's where I think the real opportunity is. And bigger picture, I think the big opportunity across basically every profession is that like everyone has a smartphone, everyone uses email. I believe that there's going to be an AI assistant helping every single professional. And, you know, whether it be a law, medicine, finance, accounting, enabling them to do the more strategic, more important, more customer facing parts of their job that aren't the kind of rote, repetitive scale tasks.

    If we're doing millions of documents or doing legal research or reviewing dozens of contracts, what we see with technology trends in the past is that there's a lot of fear of job replacement and so on. It's never been the case. There is more technology than ever in law firms and more lawyers than ever making more money than ever. And I think that trend continues and the attorney continues broadly speaking, the economy. But the work that you do shifts and it becomes more strategic, more important, more fulfilling, frankly, than some of the work that today computers can take off the plate.


    And building on that, I think the people that will be successful in this new world are the people that learn how to leverage this technology, the people who become very, very good at delegating. And that's a skill that not all lawyers inherently have, but it can be learned. So I think to some lawyers who are looking at AI and feeling intimidated like this is highly technical.

    I'm not a technical person. That's why I went to law school. I don't do math like that's I'll find. But you do delegate to an assistant or to a paralegal or to a junior associate. And the people who do that really well are the people who can be very specific about what they need and what they want in terms of an output and who can give guidance and can iterate.

    And that's really the same type of skill set that you'll need in a world of having an AI assistant and those lawyers who push that out and say, That's not for me, but that's with you, with the crazy stuff or whatever. Those are the ones who I don't think will be as well positioned in this new world where the expectation is going to be that you do more with less.

    The expectation is that you're going to be fast and efficient and always top of your game. And so that's something that I think the folks who are paying attention recognize and many of our clients are engaging with those kinds of substantive questions now.


    And for my part, my observation is that AI has gotten to the point where it's not going away. It's not something you can just defer and continue in in the status quo. And like you say, I think that, you know, in my world of M&A deal making, which very different from the litigation side of the House or public interest type of opportunities to improve access to law is just eliminating the efficiencies.

    And as Jake alluded to, if you approach it with excitement and opportunity as opposed to fear and uncertainty, it's an opportunity to move up the “fun” curve, so to speak, in terms of the value that you can add in the eyes of clients and others in terms of the expertise and removing the project management and rote aspect that is inherent in all kinds of legal work.

    So I think it's coming. And we as lawyers who are resistant to change – those that can pivot and embrace it and use it and leverage it are going to be, you know, the lawyers and the firms that that have the most success. And so the challenges before us at Orrick and otherwise and it's been a thrill, not only with you guys, but other of our clients in the AI space, to get up-to-speed and learn more about this and see if we can collectively benefit from the technology changes that isn't legal centric at all. It's going to affect every industry in the world and globally. 


    One parting thought here. We are obviously very lucky to work with you and the team on the transaction. And like you said, we've been working with you all of you for the last decade and tying it back to the themes around AI and its role in the professions, the parts of those services that we really valued that we think is worth every penny and more, are the times where you could sit us down and say: here's what they're proposing, here's what we propose, here's why, here's how we think it's going to go, here's why this will potentially work out poorly for you, to think through it all the way and why you should go down this path or what have you. That kind of information is based on experience. It's based on the fact that you've worked on these kinds of deals and seen enough of these to understand the implications. It's based on intuition. It's based on being a person who is well-read and understand this area incredibly well. All of those things are incredibly, incredibly valuable when going through a high stakes moment like an M&A transaction. Right. And also like litigation, everything else. These are not things that GPT-4 or 5 or 6 or 7 are going to be able to do. I'm not concerned about that, right. And so it turns out that it's not just more fun for lawyers to be working on the more strategically important kind of kind of work, whether it be in dealmaking or litigation.

    It's also going to be more valuable for clients to just engage on that level and know you're dealing with a person like that. And I think I think kind of thinking about the future a little bit. I think the really tough part that a lot of law firms, if you think about starting now, is given that what clients value and given that AI is going to take a lot of that rote work and start doing that on behalf of clients, probably by law firms using their technology to support their clients, but it would still be increasing the technological process. What do we do with this next generation of lawyers? And I think that the answer is, you know, a lot of lawyers are today kind of “trained” on doing rote, repetitive tasks, basically, especially, I know litigation because I practiced it – documentation, review, legal research. These are tasks that that might take days, weeks or months sometimes and are kind of rote. And then the necessarily prepare you to be a strategic partner for your clients. And I wonder a bit about the model of the law firms, the model, the legal education. And this is going to be true for professionals. Generally speaking, how do you get the next generation to not be ready for a job environment where you're just have to do rote, repetitive tasks? Because the AI will do that for you now. But how do you, how do you turn the next generation into marks the Mark Seneca's, right? And that I think is the real interesting challenge to the law firm model, the legal education model starting, starting now.

    Mark: Thank you for taking the time to join us on this podcast. We're seeking to provide interesting content to entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in the technology industry and Silicon Valley and that the audience should stay tuned for more content as the months and years unfold.

    Thank you, Jake and Laura.
    Laura: Thank you.
    Jake: Thanks for having us.