Lawyers are back: Digital transformation

SupportHound, a spousal support tool, is among a new crop of data-driven legal startups.

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Back in the day (2012), the Oregon Judicial Department handled around 50 million pieces of paper a year.

Since then counties around the state have rolled out electronic filing, a transformation that was completed last year.

“Getting up to speed on a new case used to be a real endeavor,” says Jason Montgomery, a partner with Dole Coalwell Attorneys, a six-person firm in Roseburg.

“Even two or three years ago, you might have to run down to the courthouse, get staff to get a copy of the file, then pay copy charges. Now you jump on the court system and, within a few minutes, get an overview of the case.”

E-filing yields a host of efficiencies. It is also spurring a new era of legal glasnost, as lawyers unearth troves of information to generate big-data market solutions.

One example is SupportHound, a Eugene-based startup that automates spousal-support calculations.

The online tool mines more than 1,600 spousal support decisions in Oregon to generate a dollar figure within minutes. The algorithm cuts down on time while solidifying case law, says Julie Gentili Armbrust, president of Mediation Northwest, who launched SupportHound last year.

Even better, the tool defuses the hostility and tension associated with the support process.

“It will reduce conflict; it will help people make data-based decisions,” Armbrust says, “which is what technology is moving toward.”

This article is part of a larger story on legal trends that was published in the May issue of Oregon Business.

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