The Expected and Unexpected of Working with Artificial Intelligence
Stories of how AI will change the legal ecosystem forever are endless, yet ‘rubber meets the road’ proof that this is actually happening are few and far between. Here’s what one firm learned about knowing what AI can do and what they didn’t know it could do.
Like many law firms, Babst Calland is acutely focused on providing the best client service. However, pick up any corporate counsel survey and you quickly realize that the lack of quality legal service delivery by outside counsel is the number one point of dissatisfaction by GCs. While there’s disagreement between firms and clients about the degree of top-notch service delivery, there’s absolute agreement in identifying technology as the greatest service and innovation accelerator.
Enter artificial intelligence and machine learning, the proverbial silver bullets for every law firm looking to ‘do more with less’ and satisfy every client need. Stories of how AI will change the legal ecosystem forever are endless, yet ‘rubber meets the road’ proof that this is actually happening are few and far between. In fact, according to a Bloomberg Law survey on the state of legal operations and legal technology released during the recent Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) Institute annual meeting, less than 25 percent of survey respondents indicated that they are using legal technology with artificial intelligence or machine learning. And of those deploying AI, I guarantee not all are game changing.
Our firm, along with our affiliate technology division Solvaire Technologies, are not only AI believers but after exhaustive AI tool evaluations, trials, and numerous AI projects under our belt, we have become our clients’ go-to resource in how we can leverage AI for their benefit. Our firm, with the guidance of Solvaire, has developed its own sophisticated internal systems and processes to better serve clients, and now with AI tools like Diligen, it can more rapidly and accurately identify and extract key clauses in hundreds of thousands of contracts.
We spent the first 36 months of our AI journey reviewing nine different due diligence and contract assistant AI tools, and, within the last 12-18 months, have incorporated specific AI tools as part of the firm’s due diligence, content management, discovery process. With that being said, we are all the wiser when it comes to knowing what AI can do and what we didn’t know it could do. Here are some learnings:
“Taking Out the Trash” with AI: New tools are helping us group document types and get a better overall sense of the type of content our clients have and what they need to focus on. For example, when we have a due diligence project, our ability to get back to our client within the first 48-72 hours with a better sense of the scope of documents and relevant document categories is critical. Clients can then go back to their departments and practice groups internally and better assess and deploy resources as needed since they have a better understanding of the ‘where’ and ‘what.’
Key AI ingredients … Relevancy and Accuracy: We used to spend a lot of time finding the stuff we needed to review, which meant we reviewed unimportant documents and content to get to the relevant information. The ability with AI contract assistant tools to better catalog disparate document sets and then, through complex clause extraction, go directly to the needle in the haystack versus going through every piece of straw to find the needle has been game changing for service delivery.
Training Makes Perfect: Some tools are better than others at allowing you to train it to identify new types of clauses quickly. Some tools are more rigid and require the vendor to be involved in the training. Due diligence projects are always time sensitive so there’s rarely enough time to wait for this external training. It’s important to understand what your requirements are in a specific time frame. Preferably, find an AI tool which is trained to find the most important clauses for your client’s needs out-of-the-box, and which can be quickly trained to find new concepts on the fly.
AI Lets You ‘Think Big’: Since deploying AI tools to help address our clients’ due diligence and review needs, we have been able to do more, quicker, more accurately and on time while offering flat fee predictable pricing. We can now take on bigger projects—and deliver them faster—thanks to our streamlined, best practices process.
Sweat the Small Stuff: For us, the biggest challenge when working with AI tools is that they are typically not being designed by lawyers and legal professionals who deeply understand the due diligence or discovery process. Vendors will offer up provisions that we rarely use or are not critical to the due diligence process, which tells us they don’t understand our business. When finding the perfect AI tool for your specific process and client need, it is critical that everybody speaks the same language. Streamlined functions and simple user interfaces in our AI tools are preferred.
Less + Less = More: A big challenge Babst Calland and many firms face with AI is most providers’ lack of big picture understanding related to more efficient legal service delivery. This often starts and ends with pricing; efficiency gains on the client end do not necessarily translate into extraordinary profit gains on the firm and vendor end. The gains are realized on the process improvement and service delivery end (something that quite frankly, most law firms don’t desire or seek). Law firms need to be able to drive client value based on a valuation process that works for everybody—the client, the law firm and the AI vendor. Law firms that fail at striking that delicate balance will fail in the age of AI.
Invisible AI: Well over a year into leveraging AI to deliver better and faster for our clients, we never hear “wow, we are so excited that you used AI.” Instead, we hear “I can’t believe how fast and accurate that was!” or “we would have never been able to do that.” We do not tout AI as the silver bullet but have silently and effectively worked it into our best practice delivery service model.
Christian Farmakis is a shareholder, management committee member and chairman of the board of directors at Babst Calland, and president of Solvaire Technologies. Having a reputation for delivering reliable, practical, and efficient business-oriented advice to his clients, he is always seeking better ways to serve them. Leveraging technology and developing measurable processes and quality standards to undertake large diligence and document management projects on time and on budget are just two of the ways that make him and his team a legal provider of choice.
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Report Highlights Federal, State and Local Challenges and Opportunities for the U.S. Oil and Gas Industry
PITTSBURGH, June 18, 2019 – Babst Calland today released its annual energy industry report: The 2019 Babst Calland Report – The U.S. Oil and Gas Industry: Federal, State and Local Challenges & Opportunities; Legal and Regulatory Perspective for Producers and Midstream Operators.
In this Report, Babst Calland energy attorneys provide perspective on issues, challenges, opportunities and recent developments in the oil and gas industry that are relevant to producers and midstream operators.
According to the International Energy Agency, “the second wave of the U.S. shale revolution is coming” and the United States will account for a 70 percent increase in global oil production and a 75 percent expansion in LNG trade in the next five years.
On a year-over-year basis, natural gas production continues to increase in each of the seven largest shale basins in the United States. Most notably, oil and natural gas production is being driven by three of the largest producing basins including Appalachia in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico, and the Haynesville Basin in southwestern Arkansas, northwest Louisiana, and east Texas.
Joseph K. Reinhart, shareholder and co-chair of Babst Calland’s Energy and Natural Resources Group, said, “Domestic shale producers and operators continue to face myriad legal and regulatory challenges by regulatory agencies, the courts, activists, and the market. This annual review is a snapshot of the issues and trends on the federal, state and local level in the oil and gas industry over the past year.”
The 92-page Babst Calland Report covers a range of topics from the industry’s business outlook, regulatory enforcement and rulemaking to developments in pipeline safety and litigation trends. A few of the Report’s highlights include:
- The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports both oil and dry natural gas production set U.S. records this year. Oil production hit 12.4 million barrels per day in May, natural gas soared above 90 billion cubic feet per day. U.S. production of gas liquids also set records and now account for over a quarter of U.S. petroleum product output.
- This year, the oil and gas industry received mixed messages regarding environmental matters. On the federal level, the Trump administration generally loosened regulatory and/or statutory constraints, such as narrowing the Clean Water Act definition of “Waters of the United States.” In contrast, at the state level, some agencies introduced or considered more rigorous standards, including Pennsylvania’s proposed cap-and-trade program.
- Public interest in pipeline safety has grown significantly in recent years. Consequently, operators’ installation of new pipeline infrastructure to transport energy products from the nation’s shale plays to domestic and foreign markets has resulted in increased scrutiny.
- In Pennsylvania, the contours of the Robinson Township II decision continue to be litigated and legislated by local governing bodies, while the Commonwealth Court provided clarity concerning a municipality’s right to determine the location of oil and gas operations. In West Virginia, the extent of a county government’s ability to investigate alleged nuisances is being considered in the state’s highest court. In Colorado, new legislation has empowered local governments to take a much more active role in regulating oil and gas development.
- Significant title issues concerning oil and gas property rights continue to be addressed in states in shale plays throughout the country. The desire to improve efficiencies has resulted in the use of allocation wells and cross unit drilling, particularly in Texas and Oklahoma.
- Nuisance claims, alleging that excessive noise, traffic, dust, light, air pollution and impaired water quality interfere with the use and enjoyment of private property, continue to be asserted across the shale plays.
- An increasing number of oil and gas companies recognize the advancements in commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) technology and the utility and cost savings associated with using UAS to inspect and monitor assets such as pipelines and infrastructure.
After more than a decade, the shale gas industry continues to expand its reach and impact on our country’s energy supply and independence. Babst Calland’s Energy and Natural Resources attorneys support clients operating in multiple locations throughout the nation’s shale plays. To request a copy of the Report, contact email@example.com.
Babst Calland Opens Houston Office,
Merges with Attorneys from the Chambers Law Firm, PLLC
PITTSBURGH, PA – June 5, 2019 – Babst Calland announced today the opening of a new office in Houston, Texas, and merger with attorneys of The Chambers Law Firm, a prominent Houston law firm.
Les R. Chambers, Ryan A. Chambers, and Coleman G. Anglin join the Firm as shareholders, and Nataliya K. Tipton as associate.
These Houston-based attorneys represent clients on a variety of legal and regulatory matters, particularly in the areas of oil and gas, property, and transactional law and all aspects of oil and gas title examination and analysis process for exploration and production companies in the Mid-Continent (including Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma) and Appalachian Basin.
Commenting on these developments, Donald C. Bluedorn II, managing shareholder of Babst Calland, said, “These highly-regarded oil and gas attorneys are a natural fit in advancing our Firm’s vision to continue to expand our geographic footprint to serve clients’ needs in the development of the Permian Basin and other major and emerging shale plays in the country.”
“Our nationally-recognized multidisciplinary team of experienced energy attorneys, along with the resources of our new Houston office, offer our clients exceptional regional and national legal representation to help navigate challenges and opportunities to succeed in the oil and gas industry.”
“We are very excited to be joining Babst Calland,” said Les Chambers. “The vast experience of our respective firms in the energy and natural resource sector, along with the diversity of practice areas and significant support staff at Babst Calland, will create a synergy that will greatly enhance the services we can provide to both our individual and mutual clients across the country.”
Les Chambers, the managing shareholder of Babst Calland’s Houston office, concentrates his practice in the areas of oil, gas and mineral title examination and opinions, oil and gas transactions, property law, as well as assisting clients on a wide range of energy matters including negotiating and drafting oil and gas contracts, leases, due diligence examination and analysis, pipeline acquisitions and surface use and seismic agreements.
Ryan Chambers, Coleman Anglin, and Nataliya Tipton also focus their practice on a wide range of oil, gas, and mineral-related matters including title opinions, title examination, due diligence, business and land transactions, operating agreements, litigation, and contractual and regulatory issues.
“The addition of our Houston office supports our strategy to expand Babst Calland’s team and capabilities to serve the needs of existing and new oil and gas clients in the Permian, San Juan, and Eagle Ford Basins as well as the Mid-Continent,” said Bruce F. Rudoy, Co-Chair of Babst Calland’s Energy and Natural Resources Practice Group.
The Firm’s new Houston, Texas office is located in The Woodlands, Texas.
About Babst Calland
Babst Calland was founded in 1986 and has represented environmental, energy and corporate clients since its inception. The Firm has grown to more than 150 attorneys who concentrate on the current and emerging needs of clients. This team of attorneys has focused law practices in construction, corporate and commercial, creditors’ rights and insolvency, employment and labor, energy and natural resources, environmental, litigation, pipeline and hazardous materials safety, public sector, real estate and transportation safety.
Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., Babst Calland also has offices in Canton, Ohio, Charleston, W. Va., Houston, Texas, Sewell, N.J., State College, Pa., and Washington, D.C. Babst Calland has been ranked in the 2019 U.S. News & World Report’s – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” list nationally in seven practice areas and regionally in 29 practice areas, and the firm’s attorneys have also been included in Best Lawyers in America©, by BL Rankings. The firm has also been acknowledged in Chambers USA’s America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. For more information, including attorney profiles, visit babstcalland.com.
Babst Calland Expands Washington, D.C. Environmental and Mobility, Transport and Safety Practices
Ms. Falaschi’s move to Babst Calland, along with Julie Domike, another seasoned environmental attorney who recently joined Babst Calland as shareholder in late April, further represents the firm’s commitment to meet clients’ needs related to environmental and emissions mobile source services before EPA, the California Air Resources Board, and other regulatory agencies as a part of its best-in-class team.
Ms. Falaschi provides advice to clients in the energy, transportation, and technology sectors regarding environmental regulatory compliance. She has assisted companies with disclosure of regulatory violations to state and federal agencies, and has counseled clients in negotiations with the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. EPA, and California Air Resources Board. In addition to counseling on compliance issues, she has worked with technology and energy companies in developing new projects and has advised clients on regulatory issues arising from joint ventures, mergers, and acquisitions.
She has litigated cases in federal court, represented clients in administrative cases before various federal agencies, and has experience with administrative rule challenges before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Ms. Falaschi is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia, California, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
Ms. Falaschi earned her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 2016 and her A.B., magna cum laude, from Georgetown University in 2013.
Veteran Environmental Attorney Joins Babst Calland’s Washington, D.C. Office
Ms. Domike will provide senior-level legal counsel in key practice areas including Environmental, Mobility, Transport and Safety, and Litigation. Ms. Domike has represented numerous clients across the country in complex negotiations with the U.S. Department of Justice and EPA, resulting in global settlements affecting multiple company facilities. Much of Ms. Domike’s practice involves permitting and other issues under the Clean Air Act, addressing issues associated both with mobile and stationary sources. Ms. Domike has worked with companies engaged in developing new projects or modifying existing plants, and she has worked with clients on environmental audits and subsequent correction and disclosure to state and federal environmental agencies.
Having previously served as an attorney and manager at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Headquarters, Ms. Domike understands the Agency’s enforcement approach and counsels clients to engage with EPA in rulemaking, and enforcement. She has represented a variety of companies that have been the focus of EPA’s regulations, including refineries, engine manufacturers, independent power producers, chemical plants, fuel producers, and construction and farm equipment makers.
Commenting about this lateral move to the Firm, Donald C. Bluedorn II, managing shareholder of Babst Calland, said, “We are very pleased to welcome Julie to our Firm and to our established team in Washington, D.C. She is a natural fit for us and her experience further complements the existing synergies that we offer clients, particularly in the Energy, Mobility, and Transportation industries.”
Julie Domike’s arrival at Babst Calland also represents sustained growth in the Mobility practice, led by Firm shareholder Tim Goodman, responding to our clients’ requests to provide environmental and emissions mobile source services before EPA, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and other regulatory agencies as a part of our best-in-class team.”
“As an attorney focused on environmental law, I am pleased to be joining a well-established, multidisciplinary legal team representing clients in the various industries where I have served ” said Attorney Julie Domike.
“Since opening Babst Calland’s Washington, D.C. office in 2016, we have grown to 10 professionals focused on serving clients in the energy, mobility, emerging technologies and transportation sectors. Julie brings a new dimension to our team, and allows the firm to better serve our clients throughout the country.” said James Curry, managing shareholder of the Washington, D.C. office.
Farone, Harris, Hido and Oven Join Babst Calland
Alexandra G. Farone is an associate in the Litigation and Employment and Labor groups of Babst Calland. Ms. Farone has a broad range of litigation experience in several practice areas including complex commercial litigation, premises liability, employment, construction, and oil and gas law. She also has experience counseling corporate clients regarding employment matters including best practices and procedures, and compliance with the FLSA, ADA, ADEA and Title VII. She is a 2017 graduate, magna cum laude, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Bilal M. Harris is an associate in the Firm’s Environmental Group. As a former attorney for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), Mr. Harris utilizes his experience to assist clients on a broad range of matters under major federal and state environmental programs, with emphasis on matters arising under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). He is a 2011 graduate of Howard University School of Law.
Daniel P. Hido is an associate in the Environmental Group. Mr. Hido assists clients on environmental regulatory matters in the context of compliance counseling, enforcement defense, remediation obligations, and business transactions. With a broad background in the principal federal environmental regulatory programs, he particularly focuses on hazardous and non-hazardous waste issues, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Water Act. He is a 2014 graduate of Cornell Law School.
Amy T. Oven is a staff attorney in the Energy and Natural Resources Group of Babst Calland. Mrs. Oven counsels various energy, oil, gas and mineral-related clients on transaction matters, including title examination, title curative, oil and gas title opinions, division order title opinions and due diligence. She is a 2007 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Babst Calland Continues to Expand Mobility and Safety Practice; Former NHTSA Senior Attorney Arija Flowers Joins Law Firm
Ms. Flowers, a former NHTSA attorney well-known in the industry, served as a Senior Trial Attorney with the NHTSA Office of Chief Counsel. There, she was the lead U.S. federal enforcement attorney for a number of matters addressing some of the most significant issues in the industry. Ms. Flowers’ joining the Firm continues to enhance its best-in-class capabilities to meet the developing needs of mobility and transport clients and other companies with emerging technologies. The practice provides strategic leadership with business and legal advice for manufacturers, suppliers, start-ups, technology companies and government entities in the full-spectrum of transportation regulatory, safety, product quality, and automation matters, including automated/autonomous driving systems.
“Arija Flowers’ joining our team represents a consolidation at Babst Calland of several recent former NHTSA and DOT senior staff and leadership with the freshest and deepest understanding of NHTSA/DOT’s current decision-makers and technical analysis approach,” said Babst Calland’s Managing Shareholder Donald C. Bluedorn II. “The continued outreach to us for services from companies – even those who are well represented at present – has really spoken to the success of our vision,” he added.
Ms. Flowers will join Will Godfrey, Babst Calland’s Director, Mobility, Automation and Safety, and a former General Motors engineer and senior NHTSA regulatory chief, and Tim Goodman, the leader of Babst Calland’s Mobility, Transport and Safety Group, and former NHTSA chief legal officer for enforcement and U.S. federal senior executive.
Ms. Flowers will help companies navigate the full-spectrum of mobility, vehicle safety and related regulatory matters, including self-certification of standards, homologation, regulatory compliance, automated/autonomous driving systems, innovative mobility and safety approaches, best practices and emerging trends, standards enforcement, defects investigations, government inquiries and enforcement proceedings, and recall implementation.
“The industry knows and respects Arija, and I’m delighted she’s rejoining me and Will Godfrey,” said Tim Goodman. “The sheer number of companies we advise – from OEMs to suppliers, from start-ups and ride-sharing companies and e-commerce enterprises – is objective evidence of our organic growth, and Arija will be a force-multiplier on our team.”
At NHTSA, among other things, Ms. Flowers served as lead counsel for the agency’s investigation and ongoing oversight of the largest motor vehicle recall in U.S. history (Takata air bag inflators, involving 19 automotive manufacturers and an estimated 65-70 million inflators in 40-50 million vehicles in the U.S. market). She provided insight and leadership in agency investigations of vehicle and equipment manufacturers concerning safety-related defects, noncompliance with federal safety standards, and other violations of the Vehicle Safety Act and regulations. Ms. Flowers also supported DOT’s U.S. Supreme Court and federal appellate litigation practice on a number of cases.
Ms. Flowers has a background in public service. Prior to the Department of Transportation, she served as a judicial law clerk, and before law school served as the Scheduler and Executive Assistant to a senior U.S. Senator and staff to a Senator in the Washington state legislature.
Ms. Flowers earned her J.D., magna cum laude, from American University Washington College of Law. She graduated from the University of Washington with dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and in Communications and Political Science.
Matthew Wood Joins Babst Calland
Mr. Wood counsels clients in the manufacturing, chemical, metals, and other sectors on permitting matters, compliance, enforcement actions, and government investigations and provides support on issue assessment, risk management, and strategy implementation to ensure effective client operations. His work often involves coordinating with technical consultants to prepare reports, position papers, and other deliverables for clients, agencies, and other relevant stakeholders. He also has experience with state and federal agency information requests and conducts environmental due diligence in transactional matters.
A 2011 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, he previously was an associate for a law firm in Phoenix, Ariz. where he gained experience working on a variety of environmental matters at the county, state, federal, and tribal levels.
Attorney Jennifer J. Hicks Selected to Leadership West Virginia Class of 2019
A 2010 graduate of West Virginia University College of Law, Ms. Hicks has represented clients in a wide variety of litigation matters in state and federal courts throughout West Virginia. These include breach of contract, employment, environmental, nuisance, trespass, property damage, premises liability, product liability, consumer protection, partition, unknown heirs, criminal, and landlord-tenant, among others. Ms. Hicks has both trial and appellate court experience, including jury trials, and has also litigated before administrative agencies.
Leadership West Virginia (www.leadershipwv.org) is now in its 28th year as the statewide education and leadership development program in West Virginia. The eight-month program identifies emerging leaders from a variety of employers throughout West Virginia and enhances their knowledge not only of the challenges facing the state, but also the state’s unique attributes and diversity. Recognizing that the cultivation of new leadership is of utmost importance to West Virginia’s future prosperity and progress, Leadership West Virginia works to develop and motivate a cross-section of leaders who will use their talents and abilities to inspire others and to foster a new spirit of energy, enthusiasm and vitality throughout the state. LWV is affiliated with the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.
“Each year, the class participants are selected from a list of top-quality applicants from around the state. Individuals are selected into the program because they demonstrate leadership skills and experiences in civic activities and in their professional careers,” said Pam Farris, Executive Director of Leadership West Virginia. “We continue to see an increase in the number of applicants each year and we are very pleased with the diversity of candidates in the 2019 class.” Farris noted that interest in being a class member continues to be a very competitive process as the program now has over 1,400 alumni from across the state and graduates from 53 out of 55 counties.
Throughout this year members of the class will travel to different communities in West Virginia to receive broad-based education on critical topics and, at the same time, have opportunities to hone their leadership skills.
“Leadership West Virginia provides graduates with the skills and the knowledge in making sound, informed decisions,” added Farris. Many of the participants serve as private citizen volunteers, and many seek and serve in public office. Among the many benefits that come with being a graduate of the program is the network of alumni throughout the state. “Leadership West Virginia congratulates the individuals who were selected to this year’s class.”
Babst Calland Names Calfe, Cooper, Fortna and James Shareholders
Meredith Calfe, a member of the Firm’s Energy and Natural Resources Group, concentrates her practice on counseling oil and gas clients on mineral-related transaction matters, including title examination, due diligence and curative work.
Ms. Calfe is a 2009 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Kate Cooper, a member of the Firm’s Corporate and Commercial Group, counsels for-profit and non-profit entities in connection with mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, and a broad range of general corporate matters, including business planning and structuring, commercial contracts, securities law matters and governance issues.
Ms. Cooper is a 2010 graduate, cum laude, of Boston College Law School.
Alana Fortna is a member of the Firm’s Litigation, Environmental, Employment and Labor, and Emerging Technologies groups. Ms. Fortna represents clients in complex commercial litigation with a focus primarily on environmental litigation, including large-scale cost recovery actions under CERCLA and state law statutes, actions seeking injunctive relief under RCRA, and citizens’ suits brought under various federal statutes and regulatory programs. She also leverages her litigation experience to help companies and other entities with emerging technologies strike a balance between innovation and risk management.
Ms. Fortna is a 2010 graduate, magna cum laude, of Duquesne University School of Law.
Rachel James, a member of the Firm’s Energy and Natural Resources Group, represents energy clients on oil, gas and mineral-related transaction matters, including title examination, due diligence activities, curative work and the acquisition and disposition of oil and gas fee and leasehold assets.
Ms. James is a 2009 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.