Pandemic-spurred remote work transitions have changed not just where, but also how, attorneys conduct their daily business. There’s less reliance on secretaries and support staff, for instance, and more emphasis on automation.
This new environment has provided an opportunity for tech providers like productivity automation company Zero, which offers artificial intelligence-powered automation tools for email filing and tagging, among other tasks. Zero is looking to grow its foothold in the legal market with its new release of Apollo, a desktop-based automated time capture tool that uses the same engine as its current mobile-based tool.
The company believes the tool, which is a natural expansion of Zero’s offerings, will stand out in the market due to an emphasis on ease of use and an advanced AI engine.
What It Is: Apollo is a desktop-based automated time capture tool that works in the background to track a user’s activities, and then classifies that activity by matter and client for timekeeping and billing purposes. The tool connects with, and feeds information into, any number of billing and time systems that a law firm or attorney may be using.
How It Works: The artificial intelligence powering Apollo, and all of Zero’s automation tools, is years in the making. Alex Babin, CEO and co-founder of Zero, noted that teaching the Apollo AI engine how to classify tasks and legal data meant processing “billions and billions of emails and documents … and that’s what we’ve been doing for the last four years.”
How the AI understands what client or matter to assign to a desktop activity is based on the AI system creating different layers to better predict what certain data means. “It starts with a social graph, for example, trying to understand who belongs to what matter, then it goes into natural language processing understanding what keywords are being used in the subject line and body of the email,” Babin explained.
He added that the AI powering the tool is continuously learning and “very accurate,” though if it has any doubt about specific data, it will directly query the user, thereby acting as a virtual assistant.
A Natural Evolution: Launching Apollo is a natural evolution for Zero, which for years has focused on automating lawyers’ administrative tasks, and perfecting the classification of unstructured data.
“We started from a different angle. Our DNA is in the classification of data, understanding what matter and client each piece of information or activity belongs to. Once we built this classification engine, we realized that that was the piece missing for time management,” Babin said.
To be sure, Zero has previously launched a tool to track and capture time spent working on mobile devices before Apollo, which uses the same AI engine. But its new desktop-based product came with a few new development challenges. “[It’s] a pretty big product that we’ve been working on for quite some time. … It adds multiple activities like Zoom calls, documents, emails, web browsing—everything,” Babin said.
The Competition: There are a host of dedicated time-capture tools on the market, such as Bill4Time and Time by Ping, as well as others that are integrated directly into practice management software Smokeball, Mycase, Intapp and Clio, to name but a few.
Babin, however, hopes that Apollo stands out from the competition in a few distinct ways. He touted the accuracy and “quality of AI” that powers Apollo, for instance, arguing that other systems “have failed, or were not adopted, because at the end, they required more manual work to clean up the time entries.”
Babin also pointed to Apollo’s ease of use, explaining that it seamlessly sits on top of existing systems without the need for disruptive installations or IT replacement. He added, “We believe the best software is no software, the best interface is no interface. That’s why Apollo is basically invisible to the user, there’s no tricks to be learned, no new software to learn, it works in the background.”