Bringing Technology to the Law
By David Hornik,General Partner, August Capital
I have often described my background as eclectic. That is a nice way of saying arbitrary. My undergraduate degree is in Computer Music, a mix of acoustics, physics, computer science and music. Despite being unbelievably fun, it didn’t particularly qualify me to do anything one might characterize as a job. My next stop was at a British institution of higher learning from which I received a Masters of Philosophy in Criminology. Despite my best hopes, my M.Phil. had very little to do with Sherlock Holmes – it was much more about sociology and penology. Like most masters degrees, it also did little to make me marketable. And in combination my Computer Music and Criminology degrees only qualified me to write electronic scores for documentaries about the prison system. And so I did what all of you did with your philosophy, anthropology, and slavic history degrees, I went to law school.
Law school was great. I honed my capacity to reason. I was taught how to argue and articulate and justify. And most importantly, I learned to extract order from disorder. What I did not learn, however, was what I wanted to be when I grew up. Over the next six years I clerked for one judge, worked at three law firms, and was admitted to practice law before three jurisdictions. I dabbled in litigation, corporate law, licensing, and M&A. I battled on behalf of Fortune 500 companies and three person businesses. I sued people and got sued. I incorporated businesses, sold businesses, took businesses public, and shut down businesses.
During my six short years as an attorney, I found myself increasingly wondering how we might make the practice of law better. Why were we retracing our steps? Why were we making so many photocopies? How in the world could I find that needle in the document haystack? Why was I stuck in the office at 1:00 in the morning when I had a family back home? Why did I never know if my citation in a brief was outdated, overruled, overstated? The list of questions seemed unending. But before I could catalog the many opportunities for improvement in the legal industry, I was asked to join August Capital and found myself confronted with ways to improve every industry, not just the law.