This week on The Geek in Review, hosts Greg Lambert and Marlene Gebauer spoke with Katie DeBord and Kristin Zmrhal, two vice presidents from legal tech company DISCO. Greg kicked off the episode by discussing his recent work with a Houston nonprofit called Project Remix Ventures that helps at-risk youth. He took their leader on a visit to innovation hub The Ion to showcase reinventing old spaces for new purposes, like DISCO has done with legal tech. The hosts then welcomed Katie DeBord, who moved from being Chief Innovation Officer at law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner to DISCO. In her current role, Katie focuses on leveraging technology like AI to improve the litigation process for lawyers. She drew experience from her past analyst role at the CIA, where she honed her skills in synthesizing complex data sources.

The hosts also introduced Kristin Zmrhal, who has over 20 years of experience in the legal tech space. At DISCO, she helped build their eDiscovery products and services. Kristin explained that DISCO’s vision is to create great legal technology that helps lawyers find evidence faster. Their product suite now covers the entire litigation lifecycle, from intake to discovery to case management. DISCO uses AI tools like their new Celia application to automatically surface insights from case documents, allowing lawyers to review documents more efficiently. They are also careful to cite sources to ensure transparency.

In terms of company culture, Katie and Kristin discussed how DISCO values rapid experimentation, quick decision-making, and collaborating as a team. They also emphasize empathy in how they treat each other and design products for users. Being a public company also gives employees a sense of ownership. On the innovation side, Katie sees billable hours changing due to advancing legal technology, which will impact law firm profitability models. Kristin predicts AI adoption will reach a tipping point in legal tech within 2-5 years, drastically improving processes like eDiscovery. However, regulating AI poses challenges for the legal industry.

For giving back, DISCO has community service and pro bono programs. DISCO Cares allows employees to volunteer locally. Through DISCO Pro Bono, they donate their technology to support pro bono legal matters. This aligns with their mission of making legal services more accessible. When asked for parting thoughts, Katie emphasized lawyers needing to leverage professionals from adjacent disciplines as part of their teams. Kristin reiterated that this is the most exciting time in her 20 year legal tech career, with AI poised to transform legal workflows.

This engaging discussion provided insights into DISCO’s innovative products and empathetic culture. With seasoned experts like Katie and Kristin leading the way, DISCO seems well-positioned to help shape the future of legal technology. Listeners can connect with Katie and Kristin on LinkedIn and find out more about DISCO’s offerings at Be sure to stay tuned to The Geek in Review for more insights from leaders in legal tech.

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Marlene Gebauer 0:07
Welcome to The Geek in Review. Podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal profession. I’m Marlene Gebauer,

Greg Lambert 0:14
And I’m Greg Lambert. Marlene, this week, I got to do a couple of really interesting things related around the same, same thing. You know, we’ve talked about the Houston Ion before where they’ve converted the the old Sears building in Midtown Houston into an innovation hub. Really cool stuff that they’re doing. And new times. Yeah. And and so this week, it wasn’t related to The Ion but I got kind of a similar experience. One of our lawyers works with a nonprofit that pointed me to another nonprofit who was looking for some podcasting help in this project in Houston is called the project remix ventures, where they took an old Juvenile Detention Center and have converted it into a community center. And where they’re helping at risk youth are, I think they call it what is it is justice involved youth is the phrase that they’re using for kids that have been in the justice system, and giving them educational opportunities, both with working on their GEDs, and with learning a life skill, more of an entrepreneurial type focus. And so I’ve been working with a woman down there, Diana Rodriguez, who’s been outstanding. And actually this morning, we both went to The Ion because I wanted to show her kind of the parallels of taking something that was for one purpose, and and reinventing it for another. So Diana, thanks for hanging out with me this morning. And I’m sure we’ll be doing a lot more projects together.

Marlene Gebauer 1:57
Yeah, it sounds like a great project. And I love to hear the fact that they’re getting kids involved in this and sort of learning new skills and how to apply them. And you know, who knows, maybe we’ll get some interns.

Greg Lambert 2:08
Oh, I hadn’t even thought about that. But yeah, train them up to come in here and do the editing for me. That’s right. Well, speaking of innovation, we’d like to welcome in Katie DeBord and Kristin Zmrhal. Did I say that? Right?

Kristin Zmrhal 2:29
Well done, Greg.

Greg Lambert 2:34
They are both vice presidents in discos product strategy, organization, DISCO, being an AI enabled litigation Management Suite for law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies. And a lot of us know it from the eDiscovery group and the massive wonderful parties that you guys throw it, please. Translate legal week. So Katie and Kristen, thanks for joining us here on The Geek in Review.

Katie DeBord 3:02
Thank you so much for having us.

Kristin Zmrhal 3:04
Yeah, we’re thrilled to be here. Thanks so much.

Marlene Gebauer 3:07
So Katie, I’ll start with you. Your journey being the Chief Innovation Officer at BC LLP to DISCO is is really quite unique. What does your current role entail? And what are your main goals and responsibilities at DISCO?

Katie DeBord 3:20
Yeah, it is unique. And actually it goes back further because I was a complex litigation partner at Bryan cave, Leighton Paisner for many years before I moved into the Chief Innovation Officer role. And the move really does integrate my experience as a litigation partner and all those years of litigation with that tech and innovation role at the firm. And it really is driven by my desire to think through how lawyers and especially complex litigators are using technology in this increasingly data driven complex world. You know, most tech companies have some idea of how litigators work across some aspects of the lifecycle, but many don’t know, really the details of how they fully work. And so for me, the move to DISCO was driven by like, how can we insert products throughout that lifecycle to make the experience magical, you know, as magical as Spotify is for me, you know, and, you know, how can we take analogies, litigators use analogies all the time, right? So how can we take analogies of where AI is being used in other industries and apply that to the litigation lifecycle and that’s, that’s really where my energy comes alive. And, and that was what drove my move.

Marlene Gebauer 4:43
Yeah, so so definitely innovative, you know, using looking at certain tools and applying them in new ways.

Greg Lambert 4:49
And we’ll dive in deeper, but what a great time to be in the industry right now. Isn’t it? So, so cool. First and I want to throw the same question at you, you have over 20 years of experience in the legal industry. You’ve worked as a consultant and leader in various organizations, including Google. So how did you get interested in legal innovation? And what kind of led you to the path of joining DISCO?

Kristin Zmrhal 5:19
You know, I had, I’m not a lawyer, many people think I am. Whether that says something about my personal traits or my village, argue, I don’t know. But I had originally thought that I wanted to be a litigator. And so I started working after undergrad and was going to work for a couple of years and then go to law school. And the first job I had was at Navigant Consulting in Chicago, and we were working on these very complex, massive cases, whether it was regulatory investigations or litigation. And I kind of looked around the room where we had set up 200 contract attorneys and had first second year associates sort of working all night with us on these cases and said, You know, I don’t think I want to be a lawyer anymore. But what I loved was solving the really hard problems with technology. And so that’s, you know, spun off my career to just stick on the technology side of the law as a consultant. Then when I was a consultant, Google became my client and recognize that they there was a better way to do their internal sort of ediscovery program. So we started that back in about 2010. And I did that for a number of years. I was actually trying to get out of ediscovery, after about 15 years, but I think once you’re in you can never you can never get get out.

Greg Lambert 6:34
It’s like the mob. It really.

Kristin Zmrhal 6:38
Yeah. And everybody knows everybody, right? Yeah. But I had but QE, you know, our CEO and founder and the team came in pitch to Google actually the DISCO product. And while I was listening to their pitch, I was really inspired by what they were trying to build. And so rather than just buying the product I came to work with with them. So I’ve been at DISCO for about five years, building out, you know, our corporate litigation suite with a heavy focus in what we’ve done in ediscovery. And AI.

Greg Lambert 7:05
Well, I don’t think you missed out by not going to law school.

Kristin Zmrhal 7:10
I’m pretty I’m pretty happy with where I ended and I get to work with and for lawyers every day,

Greg Lambert 7:16
and you didn’t have to pay off the student loans. That’s right. Well, funny

Kristin Zmrhal 7:19
you say that, because that’s the joke I always make, because I did end up going to get my MBA at Berkeley.

Marlene Gebauer 7:25
I made. Nevermind, nevermind that. So Katie, you you mentioned that you were a practicing attorney. You didn’t mention that you have worked with the CIA. So we need to hear about that. Oh, yeah, yeah,

Katie DeBord 7:41
no, I mean, you know, just the none of it was I worked on the analyst side. And, you know, on that side, and there’s, there’s analogies and parallels here, which is why I’m talking about it. But you know, on that side, you’re you’re streaming through massive amounts of information and data coming from lots of different sources, whether there are top secret human intelligence sources, or signals intelligence or publicly available information. And you’re, you’re trying on a daily basis to condense all of that, so that you can see the wheat through the chaff and see what’s happening, and tell the policymakers and the president, right, hey, we think this is about to happen based on the you know, these facts. And so that’s, that’s what I did for five years at the CIA. And I think it actually really primed me for law. Yeah,

Marlene Gebauer 8:37
it’s like I was thinking, it’s like, oh, is it really like Jack Ryan? Is that what the analysts do like, special ops, and

Katie DeBord 8:46
you’re not imagine a bunch of people in short sleeved dress shirts, and pocket protectors, they literally have pocket protectors, like a think tank, you know, it’s they’re, they’re the most amazing people in the world. I love them,

Marlene Gebauer 8:59
you know, having this background, right. How did you, you know, what lessons did you sort of take along the way? And how have you kind of applied that to legal innovation and developed, you know, that expertise and the passion around that?

Katie DeBord 9:16
Yeah, I mean, I think I think the first and foremost is to always work with really smart people. You know, and that’s, I’ve done that my entire life. I’ve been very blessed in that in that regard, to find the smart people and work with them. And then the second element of it is sort of what I said before, you know, the world is three dimensional problems are three dimensional. There’s a lot of different factors influencing the problem, right? There’s a lot of different players at play. There’s human dynamics at play. And, you know, the better that you can see that three dimensional problem and tackle it in a three dimensional way, the more effective you’re going to be and in my view, You know, tech helps us see problems more three dimensionally it helps us see where gaps exist in information, you know, where we know we should have information, but we don’t have it. Or where we see human dynamics change. Chris and I are emailing each other every day. And then something happens and we stop emailing each other. And in tech can help surface that and say, Hey, what’s going on in this dynamic? And what happened here? And that’s to me, you know, the interesting thing, and the kind of the theme across my entire career is, is really thinking about things three dimensionally and dressing them three dimensionally.

Greg Lambert 10:39
Yeah. So So in other words, that’s, that’s when you guys jumped off the email went to WhatsApp, right. And you know, something’s going on. That’s right. Hopefully, they’re just planning a birthday party. I want those messages, though. And for the listeners that want to hear a little bit more about Katie’s experience with the CIA, Steve poor, has a great interview that you did a few months ago was that I highly recommend listening to that, because I think he dives a little deeper into that issues. And of course, Steve always does a great job. Yeah,

Katie DeBord 11:22
it’s great. Kristen, I’m

Greg Lambert 11:24
going to ask you, I’m sure that most of our listeners know, have heard of DISCO. But I want to, I want to kind of get a high level introduction for those who may not know what it What’s your kind of mission and vision is there? What are one one? What is the vision and mission of DISCO? And what are some of the key products that DISCO offers? To the clients?

Kristin Zmrhal 11:51
Yeah, I think thanks for asking. We are mostly known for our ediscovery offering that’s been around for about a decade now. But our goal is to build a great technology for lawyers to help them find evidence faster. And so our product and offer and services now span the entire litigation lifecycle, from the initial intake of a complaint or request some of our clients actually, we host these law enforcement portals for law enforcement to seek emergency information in the event of a you know, an accident or an issue to litigation, hold management, witness management across the whole case, of course, ediscovery that has had aI available and actually for 10 years as well. And then the end to end sort of case, in fact, management. So there’s really exciting ways that we’re now taking AI and embedding it directly into these products as well, where you can imagine a world in the future and not too distant future really, where AI can help you analyze an issue a subpoena a complaint a suit, and quickly identify the facts of the case, help you then go seek evidence to, you know, prove or disprove those facts, and even start reviewing those documents for you. So at the end of the day, our core mission is always about finding evidence, you know, supporting justice, and we’re now able to use all of these products and services to support that. I often like to think of you know, how, why I’m so passionate about what we do at DISCO. And as somebody that was a project manager and a consultant for a number of years, or in the, you know, early 2000s working in this space, the answer was always let’s go hire a bunch of people, like throw a bunch of people at it. And I love the cliche as it as much as it is of work smarter, not harder. And so anytime that we can look around the room at the way people are working, and find ways that technology can make it faster, make it higher quality and less costly. That’s what we aim to do. And so the world of where we were hiring 200 contract attorneys in temporary space, just to get a document review done, we’ve already changed the game there where we can do that with far fewer people. And generative AI is just going to ensure far fewer people and a higher quality output. That’s the only way that we can operate these days. I mean, there’s Katie alluded to, data’s growing, if the issues are more complex, the way in which people are communicating is is, you know, nuanced. And so you need this technology to sort of keep pace of it.

Marlene Gebauer 14:25
Kristin, I’m curious if you’ve had the opportunity, working with clients to use DISCO technology in ways other than just surfacing evidence. The technology I think can be used to surface a lot of different content. And so I’m wondering if, you know, this is, you know, if you’ve had the experience of using DISCO in a way that maybe had not been originally envisioned.

Kristin Zmrhal 14:51
We actually have a number of clients because the eDiscovery database was built to be highly scalable with Google fast you know, speed At search speeds, we have a lot of clients that end up using this as a repository and for compliance issues or employment issues, any sort of investigations. Absolutely. And then we also, you know, we also have the capability to upload basically depositions, the videos, the transcripts, and annotate and collaborate on both the video and the testimony that becomes really, really important. We’ve had clients who’ve come to us say, we never would have looked at this video before, because the technology that they had was sort of antiquated or hard to use or, you know, crashed, find evidence that they didn’t know existed, and they probably wouldn’t have had it not been for modern technologies. Those are sort of the best client calls that we get to go on where they tell us that our technology helped them find something that they never would have, they never would have known before. And I you know, I think about sort of I mentioned, we’re sort of the connectivity. So for a corporate legal department, we’re already doing interesting things like being able to connect directly into Slack and Google and Microsoft and the way that people are communicating more moderately, you know, you can imagine a world where your compliance department investigations department security department now has more heads up or monitoring capabilities into what’s going on and can reduce risk in the future with modern technology.

Marlene Gebauer 16:21
So you’re actually changing like the workflow and the work methodology in that manner? Absolutely. We had Curt Meltzer on a few weeks ago, talking about legal technology companies and their efforts to give back to the community and to the public. You have a few missions as part of your community service efforts, DISCO cares and DISCO pro bono, do you mind telling us a bit about those programs?

Kristin Zmrhal 16:46
Yeah, with DISCO cares. This has been around almost since the inception of the organization. And we our original work headquarters was in Houston. And I believe it was one during one of their hurricanes where a lot of our our colleagues and their families were impacted. And so the DISCO team just naturally and organically started helping people by whatever they could do if they had boats that they could help transport people or, you know, rescuing them. And so that became like, that was just core to who we are without having it under this official umbrella of DISCO cares. But recognize that the people that we bring into this organization, while they’re very intelligent Are you know, are also quite passionate about their own communities. And so we do events, in almost every location, wherever we have an employee, whether it’s in our headquarters in Austin, or New York, or field reps that are spread out all over the world, have the capability to tap into DISCO cares to get back to their local community through, you know, a number of different missions. One of our other things is we love to partner with our law firm clients as well to put on those types of events. Do you I can go into the pro bono to that. Yeah, please do, please. Yeah. And so because DISCO is is so passionate about our, you know, seeking justice and making justice available for everybody. We do support pro bono matters by providing the technology at no cost, mostly through our law firm partners. And we’ll offer services on top of that for for those small matters. That, you know, again, another opportunity to give back and giving our technology away for free for these types of this type of work is fulfilling,

Katie DeBord 18:33
you know, in terms of leveraging DISCO generally, whether it’s pro bono or for a high stakes litigation matter. I think the thing that people love about DISCO is that it’s actually fun and easy and intuitive to use, which is not necessarily the case with most technology. And and it’s easy to use for the lawyers, right, I really advocate for lawyer first technology, meaning technology that the lawyers will actually interact with and use as opposed to support teams, right? It’s great when support teams use the technology. But when the lawyers aren’t using it, they are extracting the full value of what the technology can bring to them from a strategic perspective from, you know, a client results perspective, in my view,

Greg Lambert 19:25
that was a very polite way of saying is so easy. A lawyer can use it.

Katie DeBord 19:33
It’s fun, right? I mean, that’s the other thing is like, we interact with technology that’s fun to interact with, like I love, you know, Spotify, because it’s fun, and it finds music that I like that I wouldn’t have found otherwise. Right? And that’s a really cliche example. But it’s true. And the reason why it’s so lawyer friendly is that we have lawyers on our development teams. We have lawyer leadership we under stand that are in use or has a lawyer brain and lawyer desires and you know, lawyer competencies. And you know, we we build for that. And we designed for that. And that’s how I think all legal tech should be.

Marlene Gebauer 20:18
I’m curious about how you leverage AI to enhance your products and services. Tell us a little bit about the new Cecilia AI tool that I actually got to see a demo of. It looks very impressive and cool. And before for you go into details, why the name Cecilia,

Kristin Zmrhal 20:35
this is a it’s a great story. So there was a woman named Cece, who was Kiwis very first, our CEOs very first assistant. And as you know, DISCO progressed through its journey out of the law firm and into its own organization. She became the CFO, you know, the finance team, the sales team, the customer success team, she was just a little bit of, you know, everything to the organization. And we really wouldn’t be here. Without her. She has since retired. But there’s a little bit of a nod to her in the naming of our initial generative AI ai application. So that’s kind of fun. I actually had the opportunity to have dinner with her last week, and it was really great. So So yeah, so Celia was I was launched at legal week 2023. So that was in March. And it was the our first sort of jump into generative AI, we’ve had aI through predictions in the product for almost 10 years. But this was on the backing of all of what we’re hearing about generative AI and ChatGPT and Large Language Models. And we were able to get it to market so quickly, because it’s something that we had been working on in our AI Lab for some time. So the thought behind the Celia, and how a lawyer will engage with her is she’s basically a legal assistant. And so something that a lawyer might ask an associate or a legal assistant to go research or look into, could have taken them, you know, day, many, many hours, days or weeks to go and find the answer to you just asked Cecilia. And what’s unique about it is it’s since the bot is only learning on the documents that you’ve put into your database. So the evidence that you’ve already collected, it’s not using publicly available data, that reduces, you know, the risk of hallucinations. And so it’s really powerful in that initial identification of issues and how you’re trying to prove or refute certain facts in your case. And the evidence that supports it, we also have will be this is a sneak peek for all of you to is, by the time that this airs, we will have launched what we call automatic timelines at the ilta conference that’s coming up. And I mentioned earlier that we have the capabilities to intake complaints, or subpoenas, we can now with the release of this product actually generate a statement of facts from that specific complaint. And later this year, we will have capabilities that will take issues that are defined by a lawyer and be able to go and predict whether or not any individual documents in a database of hundreds of 1000s, or millions of documents is related to those specific issues in the case. So really exciting stuff coming out of our AI Lab. We’re not stopping there. And it’s just incredible to me to think about the velocity that we’ve been able to accomplish just in the course of the past, you know, first eight months of this year, and where we’re gonna go next year, I really, I really think that this is the tipping point in litigation and ediscovery of the massive adoption of technology to improve, you know, case outcomes at a fraction of the cost or the time.

Marlene Gebauer 23:48
You know, we had some guests on actually just the other day, and they were talking about sort of different ways to prevent or reduce hallucinations. And I’m curious what you all are doing in that regard, because that that seems to be a big sticking point with a lot of firms in terms of using it for obvious reasons. So how are you approaching that?

Kristin Zmrhal 24:14
Yeah, the key part of it running within an ediscovery database is so that it’s scoped basically, to the documents that exist there, and will only provide answers of what exists in that database not going out to the world wide web. And then our team has been working very closely with a number of the Large Language Models, providers and tweaking and fine tuning those. I think we tested probably a dozen or so of them because that that is very important. The other key thing that we do to provide some surety to the lawyers that are using the application is cite our sources. So when a narrative response comes back from a question that I’ve asked, in addition to providing the answer, it also shows the evidence and allows you to go Have a look at the actual evidence directly in the database to validate the response. So while these are all, you know, new technologies, and there’s a lot of what I consider fear out there, I think when we’re talking to our client aren’t really innovative clients, they recognize that this is a tool in your toolbox, and you still hire a lawyer for their legal minds and analysis. And this is just something that’s going to support and assist them it’s not going to replace.

Greg Lambert 25:27
Yeah, I do have to tell one story when I was looking at the demo of Cecilia, that and I’m not an ediscovery. Guy. So just let me put that out there. So I came came in, from my perspective on using the tool and, and of course, the training data that they use in the demo is the Enron data, which a lot of companies use, because it’s just a massive amount of data that that’s out there to be used. Whenever I get these demos, I want to try and ask questions that are outside the scope of the demo. And so I use, I asked him, I said, well ask Cecilia, if she can explain what mark to market accounting practices are based on the on the documents. And they did say, well, we’ve never had anyone asked this before. So let’s see and plunked it in there and immediately came back with defining what it was also pointed out some documents directly that were that were using these accounting practices. And so it was, like I said, it’s not my profession. So maybe that’s a common thing. But I was super impressed with the fact that you can ask it a question like that in plain English, and get back something that even I could understand.

Kristin Zmrhal 26:44
Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun watching our clients interact with it. And we’ve seen instances again, where the question was asked, and we in in a discussion we were having on a live case with them. And the attorney immediately sent the documents that we found to the rest of the case team, because it was so impactful, and they weren’t sure if they would have ever found it. So just it’s Yeah, super exciting to watch.

Katie DeBord 27:10
Yeah, that’s what I was gonna say. It’s like when you’re on the phone with these amlaw 50 partners, who oftentimes say, tech won’t touch the stuff I do, because it’s too complex and too bespoke and gotta yatta yatta. You know, and you see their wheels turning as they get this technology. And they realize, Wow, this, this is actually cool for me. And I will use it right. I mean, I think that’s what that’s what gets really fun.

Marlene Gebauer 27:37
It’s the aha moment, you know, those are always good.

Greg Lambert 27:40
Yeah, those are, those are fun. So let me shift away from the product. And back to the business. DISCO is one of the few legal tech companies, it’s actually a public company, interested in learning more about the culture and values there at DISCO, and talk to us a little bit about the principles and indoor beliefs that drive the success there. And I forget Kristin, if it was you, or Katie, that said, you know, want to surround yourself with really smart people. So if you get a whole group of really smart people, how do you foster a culture of innovation and collaboration among all of those really smart people who may be used to kind of doing things on their own and not collaborating?

Katie DeBord 28:30
I mean, I can, I can talk about sort of my observations a year in with DISCO and, and it really is that culture of innovation, that, that made me want to go to a tech company, and in particular DISCO, you know, where innovation is, you know, kind of the core driver of revenue and value and all that kind of thing. And what what I’ve experienced is the speed, right, the speed of decision making, you know, once decisions are made, there, we stick to that decision, unless there’s a compelling reason to not to reverse the decision. I’ve been part of meetings where we’ve redesigned, you know, some services, you know, where, you know, it’s kind of, you know, tech enabled services. And the speed in which that went from kind of discussion to market release was stunning to me. And it’s not like it was a careless speed, right. It was a thoughtful, well developed plan, but it marched forward quickly. And that’s and I have dozens of examples of that, where just the speed has been mind boggling to me. I mean, it’s really cool because someone was gonna throw out an idea with our CEO, and he’s like, let’s do it, and it’s done. And that’s awesome to be in that kind of environment. And then the other thing I would say is that I See a lot of empathy in this company, you see it both internally, like amongst peers, I’ve had a couple of things, you know, happen recently where I’ve, I’ve needed some grace and empathy. And so you see it with that you see it with how people work together. If people aren’t familiar with a concept, there’s patience, and there’s sort of a group understanding of, of where people are coming from and hearing people out. And then you see it on the customer facing side, where we are truly empathic to what our end users are going through and dealing with the risks that they’re undertaking as lawyers, and really designing with empathy. And so I think, to me, those are sort of the two major things that I’ve seen in DISCO that have been really fun and awesome to experience. I love

Kristin Zmrhal 30:47
the that culture of sort of rapid experimentation, we fail fast. So it’s okay to try something and it doesn’t work out, well, you just stopped doing that. And then you pivot and that and that, that is really in our culture. It’s like, let’s, let’s do rapid experimentation. If we experiment and it is, you know, amazing, we’ll put additional resources out if it’s not, we just cut it. But let’s, let’s make decisions quickly, and figure out what works. That and it really is the the people, there’s, you can probably tell just how passionate Katie and I are. But it’s everyone at the organization. And almost everybody just has this believes in the vision that we’re driving towards and gets behind it, I have to share one of my favorite stories of DISCO. Because it’s just we invest a lot in the people that we bring on, especially early in their careers. And we we were at a big DISCO dinner at a restaurant in Austin. And we you know, there was a lot of us. And we were ordering a lot of wine and a lot of food. And this waiter that we had was just incredible, incredibly personable, really nice. So we started talking to him, Well, long story longer. We ended up I said, you know, if you’re ever looking for a job, send me your resume. We’re always hiring, you know, junior people. And not only did he send me his resume, the next day, I introduced him to one of our sales managers that has a number of sort of early career sales representatives, they we hired him and he just got promoted into a higher level account executive role. And, and it was just, this is just like one of many examples where you see people that are that are going to progress and make their career at DISCO, because we care and we treat it like a big family. And we really want to bring everybody up alongside us. It’s not competitive. It’s collaborative.

Katie DeBord 32:39
And I do think the fact that it’s a public company, there is also sort of a deeper sense of ownership of personal ownership. And I think that it creates a whole other layer of dynamic there.

Greg Lambert 32:52
Katie, you mind diving into that one a little bit more. But how do people that work at DISCO feel like there’s a personal ownership?

Katie DeBord 33:00
Well, everybody at DISCO has some sort of stock benefit as part of their employment agreement. And so certainly, it is personally beneficial, right to each individual employee, when the company does well. And I just feel like it is like we are all stockholders in the company, right? And we’re all working together for not just our, obviously our science, but also our personal benefit. And I just think kind of adds another dynamic of kind of ownership and seriousness around success.

Marlene Gebauer 33:40
But you, Katie and Christina, you do raise good points. I mean, as it seems everybody, you know, is incentivized kind of from the ground up to sort of work together like that. There’s definitely that that we all win. You know, if one of us wins, we all win type of mentality, which, you know, it sounds quite refreshing, actually. And that’s terrific.

Greg Lambert 34:02
Totally. So Katie, and Kristen, we ask all of our, all of our guests to answer our crystal ball questions. So Kristen, we’ll start with you, if you don’t mind pulling out your crystal ball and peering into the future. For us. What do you see as a change or a challenge in the legal industry over the next two to five years?

Kristin Zmrhal 34:27
Yeah, I mean, I think where the the challenge is going to be around this, the use and regulations on some of these generative AI capabilities, but I think that’s also the opportunity. I am very bullish that in the next two to five years, the whole concept of ediscovery is completely changed because of the the application of this technology. And it’s it feels different this time. You know, when I would go to the legal tech conference 15 years ago, people were talking about predictive code Doing and tagging and all this. And I still even with large technology companies, so they, they are skeptical to adopt AI. I think the this is this is the time. And so it’s the opportunity for us to look back and five years from now and think about how we used to handle, you know, complex, massive litigation or investigations in a much more sort of manual way than than what we’ll be able to do. But but we need the lawyers and the policymakers to keep up. And so that’s, that’s, I think, a risk here for us of getting slowed down through concerns of of these technologies. So that’s the challenge.

Marlene Gebauer 35:38
How do they do that, though? You know? Like, how do they keep up?

Greg Lambert 35:44
They need to leverage generative AI to help

Kristin Zmrhal 35:49
have it right, it’s its own policies and procedures, I

Greg Lambert 35:52
could go wrong.

Katie DeBord 35:54
I really believe and more and more lawyers are doing this. But it is so important for lawyers to leverage adjacent professionals, not non lawyers, adjacent professionals with expertise in these areas, as part and embrace them as part of their team, their client service team, right. In that’s going to have to happen. And to the extent you know, they’re not doing it already.

Greg Lambert 36:22
And so, Katie, same question, can you peer into your crystal ball in and what do you see in the next two to five years,

Katie DeBord 36:29
so mine’s not original, but it’s really, really important, which is the billable hour, technology isn’t coming, it’s here, it will change law firm profitability models, right. And my personal opinion is an old drive more and more flat fee, you know, engagements, or alternative fee arrangements. At the very least, I you know, if I was going to make a prediction, I mean, you know, we have lawful, really good, best of the best in class law firms like Bartlett, Beck, who went away from the billable hour model decades ago, and so we have precedent for this, we can do it. It’s just an industry thing that probably needs to happen in light of the technology’s increasing role in legal service delivery.

Marlene Gebauer 37:18
I wanted to go back to the, you know, everybody’s incentivized, you know, what takeaways or lessons can can law firms, you know, have from that? Because, you know, I don’t think most firms are sort of, you know, they’re private, and they’re not, they’re not set up that way. So what, you know, what lessons can they take away or apply?

Katie DeBord 37:39
You know, it’s a really good question. I mean, I think, I think one takeaway or lesson is the importance of investment back into the business, right, instead of just cashing out at the end of the year, and starting all over again. And when I say investment in the business, I mean, not only, you know, tech infrastructure investment, right, but also investment in training investment, again, and people with different types of skill sets that are adjacent to the lawyers, you know, and really investing in how is client service delivery changing today? How will it change in three years, and really thinking about how law firms need to position themselves to meet that goal? If people feel invested in, right, from every level in, in, across every discipline, including critical non lawyer disciplines. I hate that term, but I’ll use it here. You know, then people will operate together as as a team. And I’ve seen that I’ve seen law firms do it well, and it’s absolutely possible. But it does take top down leadership and really concerted decision making and tough and tough decision making. I mean, it’s hard to reserve dollars at a law firm.

Marlene Gebauer 39:08
True, true. Well, Katie DeBord and Kristin Zmrhal. Thank you both for taking the time with us here on The Geek in Review.

Katie DeBord 39:17
Thanks so much for having us.

Kristin Zmrhal 39:18
Thanks for having us. This was fun.

Marlene Gebauer 39:20
And of course, thanks to all of you, our listeners for taking the time to listen to The Geek in Review podcast. If you enjoy the show, share it with a colleague. We’d love to hear from you. So reach out to us on social media. I can be found on LinkedIn, it gave our M on Twitter, and m gay Bauer 66 on threads.

Greg Lambert 39:37
And I can be reached @glambert on Twitter, or x or whatever it’s called next week. Or Lambert pod on threads. And of course, LinkedIn. I seem to be on LinkedIn a lot more lately. So Kristen, and Katie, if someone wants to learn more, or reach out, where’s a good place for people to find you online? Kristen, you US.

Kristin Zmrhal 40:01
Yep, you can find you can find me on LinkedIn. I’m pretty active on there. Or if you have more questions about DISCO, you can find us on our website at CES Katie,

Katie DeBord 40:10
you can reach me at Katherine DeBord on LinkedIn. You have to do the Catherine k th ry N, or DeBord Katie on Twitter or Cisco’s website of course.

Marlene Gebauer 40:20
And listeners, you can always leave us a voicemail on our Giken review Hotline at 713-487-7821. And as always, the music you hear is from Jerry David DeCicca Thank you, Jerry.

Greg Lambert 40:32
Thanks, Jerry. All right, Marlene, I’ll talk to you later.

Marlene Gebauer 40:35
Okay, bye bye