As CEO of Acorn Legal Solutions, AI Visionary Lia Majid has set a high bar for technological competence and AI prowess for her organization. She also firmly believes that educating clients with hands-on experience empowers them to leverage self-service tools and drives greater efficiency within their teams. This approach reveals the deeper benefits of true partnerships—rather than transactional business arrangements—between service providers and their clients.
Blair Cohen: Please describe your role in your organization and how technology plays a part in it.
Lia Majid: I am the chief executive officer at Acorn. I have made AI a cornerstone of Acorn’s services offerings and have set a mandate that we only hire people who can understand advanced technology and advise customers on the application of it.
What were your interests early on and what drew you to your line of work?
I was always interested in technology, having majored in both electrical engineering and pure mathematics as an undergraduate. However, when I got my first “real job,” I realized that my real love was understanding how technology shapes and disrupts markets. From there, it was natural for me to want to lead and shape a technology-enabled organization of my own.
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but didn’t have an idea for a business to start, and didn’t have the money to buy an existing business. So, I found investors to finance my search for a business and my acquisition of Acorn. I’m very proud that I was able to do that, coming from a non-traditional demographic and professional background.
Why does AI matter for what you do?
AI is important for the way that I manage Acorn because my team works with this technology across many platforms and on numerous landmark cases. We help clients incorporate AI technologies into their e-discovery operations or legal practice by automating their review process in order to assist with saving money, driving faster insight, and avoiding inadvertent privilege disclosures. My team utilizes AI to help our clients get better control of facts and provide a clearer scope of e-discovery.
What is your AI vision? When you think about your business or your industry in five or ten years, how will AI have affected it?
The challenge of AI in e-discovery is interesting. It is generally less technological—other industries are developing and adopting AI faster—and more regulatory in nature. Not every lawyer, or judge, or plaintiff is familiar enough with the intricacies of AI to figure out how to adopt it in a way that meets the standards of civil procedure and fairness. However, now that we’re more than 10 years beyond Da Silva Moore v. Publicis and a number of other landmark cases have established precedents for the use of AI, it is becoming settled law.
So the new challenge is educating and disseminating that information more broadly. Larger law firms have this expertise in-house, but mid-size and regional law firms have less access to that expertise. I think we’re going to see a big uptick in adoption in that segment specifically. Which is great for us, because that’s where we specialize.
What’s your advice for organizations hesitant to adopt AI?
I generally hear three reasons that organizations don’t adopt AI:
- It doesn’t have a high ROI
- It’s too risky
- It’s too big of an endeavor
Most organizations who successfully adopt AI don’t have a top-down mandate, or a big investment budget. It’s usually one or two people or departments who start experimenting with it in a small way—a very defined, narrow scope with limited risk of disruption. From that small innovation, they understand the return and start finding more projects.
Eventually, the organization sees AI being used disparately and decides to develop a more cohesive approach. So, my advice is: start small and focused. And lilypad from there.
How can AI enthusiasts pursue professional development in this area? How do you encourage peers to understand the importance of continuing education in this area?
My team has an obligation to stay up to date on the latest technologies. Partially, that is maintaining their Relativity certifications, participating in continuing education credits, and attending conferences. But also, partially, it is maintaining a list of internal and external collaborators that they can ping periodically. We also have a structured proof of concept process and routinely evaluate the latest technologies in the market on many technological-, user- and commercial-based dimensions.
In your opinion, what does the integration of AI mean for the future of the human workforce generally and in your specific industry?
I can see AI becoming used more frequently in the human workforce generally as it can automate several tasks, saving time for employees to focus their time on important work. More AI technology may possibly become more widely used to automate simple tasks in other industries as well as the e-discovery industry. Within our industry, I believe more legal teams will start to utilize more AI for document review and early case assessment as a tool to assist in litigation strategy.
Not every lawyer, judge, or plaintiff is familiar enough with AI to figure out how to adopt it in a way that meets the standards of civil procedure and fairness. However, now that we’re more than 10 years beyond a number of landmark cases have established precedents for the use of AI, it is becoming settled law.
Are you seeing an AI skills gap in your industry or organization, and if so, what will help to close it?
We have noticed that there is a gap in AI expertise within our industry due to the lack of e-discovery talent available. Since AI does involve a significant amount of expertise, it can take specialized training and work experience to become an expert and stay informed of its technological changes.
I think that the way to close this gap can be through self-service solutions of AI technology. This puts more of the work in the hands of our clients so that they are able to use the technology, and we act as a guide when they have questions about their solutions. At Acorn, we routinely offer workshops and trainings to our clients so that they can better understand what RelativityOne has to offer and feel empowered to use self-service solutions.
Have clients been hesitant to try AI-powered solutions? And if so, how do you overcome that and encourage them to give it a try?
We have worked with clients who are hesitant to try AI-powered solutions due to cost as well as lack of comfortability with AI technology. Many times, legal teams are not familiar with using technology for discovery and are not aware of the cost savings that come with adding technology to their legal operations.
We overcome this by explaining how AI-powered solutions keep data secure while saving legal teams a significant amount of time on their work. By providing demos and trainings of this technology, along with showing the cost savings that come along with it, we are able to help clients see the benefits of AI solutions and how it can improve their projects such as document review.
How has the use of AI improved your ability to put your best foot forward with your customers?
We are able to put our best foot forward with our clients by showing them how our team of experts can conduct investigations, resulting in details and insight earlier in the case than previously available, at a fraction of the cost of full review. Our project advisors are also able to design the system to automate the review process, saving money, driving faster insight, and avoiding inadvertent privilege disclosures.