When technology and optimism come together, that’s the sweet spot. Ross Gotler, deputy chair and counsel, e-discovery, at Paul, Weiss, knows that good e-discovery wins cases—and AI makes for good e-discovery. He’s an AI Visionary because he has helped Paul, Weiss put this optimism into action.
What are some of the structural barriers that keep your industry from adopting new technologies? How and why did you take an interest in AI?
Law is a profession where practitioners have a significant level of ownership and responsibility in the outcome of their work. At its core, it is the expertise and skill of individual lawyers themselves that make the difference for their clients. In addition, lawyers have to think of ethical considerations and certification requirements, and they have to feel comfortable with the tools they are using in representing their clients’ interests. So it’s understandable that lawyers want to know that a technology is reliable before using it for their matters. I think we’re at a point with the industry where that has finally happened with AI and advanced technology.
And this dovetails with my own interest. Our team early on saw the potential of AI in e-discovery, and how it could present a critical advantage for lawyers as part of their advocacy and their toolkit. But we knew we had to prove its effectiveness and reliability before it would be adopted more broadly. We focused on doing that—on ensuring not only that we had the right technology, but also that we had skilled team members and reliable processes to help our lawyers best leverage AI and analytics in achieving the best outcomes for their clients.
How can technologies like AI help you uncover more value?
Discovery is an opportunity—it’s the way that lawyers learn about matters, find the facts, and develop narratives. Done well, it can help win cases. And AI, if used effectively, is a tool that lawyers can deploy to accelerate this process, and to gain more insight into documents than they could otherwise.
Discovery is an opportunity—it’s the way that lawyers learn about matters, find the facts, and develop narratives. Done well, it can help win cases.
Embracing technology is one thing, but finding the right technology partner is quite another. What do you look for in your technology partners?
The right mix of innovation and reliability is critical. We want the best, most feature-rich technology, along with proven stability and security. And we want a provider who will partner with us in both these areas, for continuous improvements moving forward.
What project or major milestone that you completed at Paul, Weiss are you most proud of? Can you provide details?
Paul, Weiss is a firm that has consistently shown its commitment to social justice, especially through its pro bono work. That’s one key reason why I have been proud to work here for more than 20 years. So, for example, I was immensely proud of not only the firm but also many members of our e-discovery team for their efforts in 2018 to reunite families who had been separated at the border. The e-discovery team wanted to help, and conceived of the idea of leveraging our Relativity expertise to develop a custom Relativity database. Our team spent countless hours developing and fine-tuning a system that facilitated the outreach of lawyers to separated family members. We were thrilled to have had a role in this critically important effort.
What were your interests early on and what drew you to your line of work?
As a new lawyer in the late 90s with some passable competence in and comfort with technology, perhaps a career in what is now e-discovery was inevitable. Especially being at Paul, Weiss, it has been a great experience to be at the cutting edge of a new legal practice, new technology, and an emerging profession for the past two decades. And as someone who fervently believes in the transformative nature and endless potential of technology, it has been especially rewarding seeing the success of our integration of AI and analytics into our discovery processes, and the value it has added to our client representations.
What do you do when you are not working? How do you decompress?
After hearing me sing to my kids every night for years, my wife and in-laws encouraged me to pursue vocal performance. So I took up singing for the first time ever, later in life than most, and have been a member of a chorus for the past few years (although our performances paused during the pandemic). I like to say that I hold the distinction of being the only person to serve on both The Sedona Conference Working Group 1 Steering Committee and the board of the New York City Bar Chorus.
Which person (living or deceased) do you most admire?
Someone I greatly admire is Elie Wiesel, the writer and Holocaust survivor, who died in 2016. I’ll always remember reading Night by Elie Wiesel when I was in high school. The horror he went through, yet still to endure—it made an everlasting impact on me.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
I have always greatly admired those from our history with unyielding courage, especially in the face of injustice: Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis. Meeting Nelson Mandela when I was in college is something I’ll always remember.
What do you consider the most underrated quality or skill? Why?
While it’s not exciting to talk about, I think that having reliable, repeatable processes in place, built on a framework that aligns with an organization’s vision and goals, is critical to success, both long and short term. For example, when we had a sudden disruption at the start of the pandemic, our e-discovery team seamlessly shifted operations to remote, providing services to far-flung internal customers, without missing a beat. They were able to do this because of their incredible skills, and also because they were able to rely on our processes and framework, which were a constant, even in uncertain times.