Walmart: AI Legal Tech in Action

This article was written by Stephanie Forshee for Corporate Counsel. The original article can be found at:

Walmart Inc.’s litigators have found a way to reduce the time spent on answers and initial discovery dramatically—by about 60 to 80 percent.

That’s according to Alan Bryan, Walmart’s senior associate GC of legal operations and outside counsel management, who is championing a new artificial intelligence tool, LegalMation, on behalf of the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer’s legal department.

Walmart said the technology is automated to create first drafts of answers to litigation and to draft the initial round of discovery requests, each in about two minutes. This could equate to shaving off 10 hours of attorney time on each lawsuit, according to LegalMation’s estimates.

“This has and will continue to help our internal and external attorneys focus more time on higher level strategic legal concerns,” Bryan said in an email interview.

Walmart began a pilot in the second half of 2017 with LegalMation’s technology restricted by subject matter and jurisdiction.

“Due to the success of the pilot, Walmart has worked with LegalMation to expand,” Bryan said.

So far, LegalMation is available only in California—with Texas and Florida next in the queue—but Walmart’s Bryan said that “this process will continue to expand as we utilize LegalMation in a great number of jurisdictions.”

Bryan estimated that Walmart’s attorneys can reduce time spent on answers and initial discovery by 60 to 80 percent, depending on the matter.

He said that Walmart hasn’t changed any technology systems as a result of rolling out LegalMation, but the department did make a “change to the process in which we assign certain lawsuits to include drafts created by LegalMation, and we hope it will give time back to our outside counsel to think innovatively.”

As for the biggest benefits for Walmart, Bryan cited cost savings, in addition to “uniformity in pleadings and discovery.”

Walmart is the first company to publicly announce a partnership with LegalMation, but weeks after its April 4 announcement, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart came on board to leverage the AI technology for its clients. LegalMation co-founder and CEO James Lee said several other companies are testing out the AI tool in its current production phase.

Lee, a former lawyer in private practice, said most lawyers are asked to do stuff they don’t like. “They didn’t go to law school to write discovery requests,” Lee said. “That’s one of the most unpleasing parts of the job. I’m glad we’re able to use AI to start doing a lot of that work.”

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