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Inside Complex IP and AI Litigation – Brian Mack  – S8E15

Join us for a deep dive into the complex world of intellectual property litigation surrounding AI with Brian Mack, a Partner at Quinn Emanuel. Brian is a trained software and electrical engineer who has turned his passion for technology into subject matter expertise in the field of law. He is also a passionate advocate for LGBTQ+ people and other minority groups, often taking on pro-bono work when he can to support disadvantaged communities.  

So why should you be listening in?  

You can hear Rob and Brian discussing:  

  • Using transferrable skills to change careers  
  • Intellectual Property Litigation work 
  • AI’s impact on legal frameworks  
  • The benefits of a diverse legal team  
  • Juggling fatherhood and a Partner role 

 

Transcript

Robert Hanna 00:00 

Welcome to the legally speaking podcast. I’m your host Rob Hanna. This week I’m absolutely delighted to be joined by Brian Mack Brian is a partner at Quinn Emanuel. He has expertise in commercial litigation and IP disputes. Prior to joining when Brian was an associate and Patent Agent at ropes and grey, Brian completed his degree and Bachelors of Science at Hamilton College and Masters of Science and Electrical Engineering at Columbia University. Prior to joining Quinn, Brian worked at Ken cars and General Dynamics advanced information systems. As a software engineer Brian combines his knowledge and training to intellectual property matters involving computer systems architecture, data encryption and telecommunications. So a very big warm welcome, Brian. Rob, great to be here. Oh, it’s great to have you on the show and fascinating background really keen to get into today’s discussion. And before we do that, we do you have a customary icebreaker question here on the legally speaking podcast, which is on a scale of one to 1010 being very real, what would you rate the hit TV series suits in terms it’s a reality of the law if you’ve seen it? 

Brian Mack 01:06 

so I have seen it I just recently started watching suits as it was released on Netflix last year here in the States, but on a scale of one to 10. For reality of the law, I probably give it a four. I mean, obviously, it’s it’s overly dramatised made for TV and the courtroom scenes are and all the drama just don’t really resemble the reality that I see in the courtroom. But there are some realistic bark. So I think it does a really nice job of showing the late nights and the painstaking review of piles and boxes of documents associated with the legal profession. So it does a good job of capturing that drudgery, if you will, that can be associated with the practice of law. I also really liked the relationship between Harvey Spectre and Mike Ross, I think a lot of people assume lawyers only interact with and rely on other lawyers. And that just couldn’t be further from the truth. I mean, we constantly rely on people without formal legal training like technical experts, and jury consultants, and even our our great support staff here at the firm. So we we strive to surround ourselves with the smartest people in the room. And I think that’s similar to Harvey, when he is associating with Mike Ross. So in that small sense, it rings true. But otherwise, I mean, I think a four is probably the right mark. Yeah. 

Robert Hanna 02:25 

And I think that’s a very well stated answer. And with that, we should move swiftly on. So I obviously touched on very, very briefly in the introduction, but Brian would love for you to tell our listeners a little bit more about your background and career journey today. 

Brian Mack 02:41 

Sure, so I mean, even at a very young age, I was always fascinated with electronics and computers. And I think that naturally just led me focusing my studies on math and science throughout high school and college. So I received undergraduate and graduate degrees and computer science, physics and electrical engineering. And that was before I started my first full time job as a network Software Engineer for a small startup company and the New York City area. I stayed there for a few years until one day I kind of looked up and looked around and saw all the other software engineers just glued to their computer monitors. And there was virtually no personal interaction or interpersonal skills required with that job. And I quickly quickly realised that I just wasn’t really, you know, cut up to be a programmer for the rest of my life. So I needed to transition into something that was a little bit more fast paced and exciting and with more human human interaction. But I also didn’t want to give up my technical background, my computer science, physics and engineering background. So I started looking into law and specifically on electoral property law. And I also had a little a little help because I have an identical twin brother, who also has an engineering background. And he already started looking into the legal field and stuff he was studying for the LSAT. So I kind of followed followed in my twin brother’s footsteps, in a sense, I left the computer programming job and I joined. At the time, it was an IP boutique firm known as Fisher Neve, and then they merged with ropes and grey. And I was working as a technology specialist at the IP at the fish and meat IP group of ropes and grey. And they have a Patent Agent programme where you attend law school at night while working full time during the day as a Patent Agent. So I began my career, more on the IP corporate side of things. And then when I finished up law school in New York City, I knew I wanted to transfer out of the IP corporate practice group and go 100% into litigation. And that’s when I moved over to coin Emanuel and around 2011 So it’s been about 13 years now. And I’ve I’ve been here ever since. 

Robert Hanna 04:55 

Yeah, and I mean, it’s an incredible journey and you know, you touched on it there. You can came from that sort of non traditional background to them the legal world. And now partner, you know, so can you walk us through how you’ve become an intellectual, you know, litigation partner at one of the world’s, you know, arguably best and largest disputes firms in the world? 

Brian Mack 05:15 

Yeah, I mean, it’s a it’s a lot of hard work a lot of late nights. We I, when I moved over to quit Emanuel in 2011, they were active, they had just started the apple Samsung smartphone wars. And that case was really would would be all encompassing. For the next seven years of my legal career. It was two jury trials in San Jose, to hearing evidentiary hearings in front of the International Trade Commission in Washington, DC. And Quinn Emanuel has a policy, it’s really they staff their cases very cleanly. So a lot of the substantive high quality work product gets pushed down to the, to the associates and even the junior associates. So, you know, I hit the ground running when I moved over here, and I had that strong technical backward patent background from my experience that ropes and grey. And, you know, put it put in the time it 789 years later, I’m now IP litigation partner, and I specialise in patent trademark trade secret copyright cases, as well as a host of other matters. One unique thing about Quinn Emanuel is that they really try to have each litigator be just a general purpose attorney who can pick up any complex commercial case, and just hit the ground running. A lot of people do specialise. And I have a technical background. So I ended up specialising in intellectual property law. But I also work on lots of other types of cases as well.  

Robert Hanna 06:49 

Yeah, and I guess it’s refreshing, isn’t it to get that variety? I mean, one thing this show is all about is legal careers and inspiration. And, you know, there might be people listening into this that might be similar to you, in the sense, I’m in a profession that isn’t really fulfilling to you, you wanted to get that more human interaction, you wanted to have something slightly different, but not lose that background. So in terms of maybe helping people with transferable skills or moving into a different industry, how did your technical training help you transition to a lawyer? And there’s particularly then to sort of make that move to Quinn Emanuel? 

Brian Mack 07:23 

Yeah, that’s a that’s a great question. So, I mean, I have to explain complex technology to the judge and the jury on a daily basis. So my technical background obviously was immensely beneficial for that purpose. And one of the keys to really appealing to the jury is simplifying these complex technology, and in terms that the jury can understand. So we use a lot of simple analogies that kind of demystify the complex technology, and those are really key, you know, at the jury, in front of the jury. And we kind of have a rule of thumb that the jury really only takes back the four or five most key points that allow every member into the deliberation room. So my main goal, and the main goal of every lead trial attorney in these complex IP cases, is really to connect with the jury and make them understand your position better than your adversaries position. So you really want the jury to remember more of your four or five key points as opposed to your adversaries when they go back into the the deliberation room. And it’s, it’s not really an easy thing to do. But we’ve kind of mastered and approach at the firm. That’s, that’s quite, quite effective. But it doesn’t really mean that you need a technical background to work on the types of cases that work on you really only need a couple of technically trained attorneys on each trial team in order to succeed and those one or two attorneys become invaluable members of the team and kind of act as a conduit for all the technical analysis that funnels funnels through them. So that was really important when I was making my decision on moving to quite a manual, I really wanted to, I didn’t want to just throw away all the all the late nights and the complicated engineering classes and physics and computer science work that I had done in my past, I still have my textbooks on in the library here. And I do pull out the books occasionally from from time to time. So that was really important to me to kind of integrate my technical background and my technical training into my new career path. And that was I found an exact fit with intellectual property law. 

Robert Hanna 09:27 

Yeah, and I guess what’s fascinating about your particular area of law as well is whilst you know, certain trials and cases might be similar, like the details matter, so there there is no sort of sight one size fits all, as you know, I always say you’ve got to be specific is terrific in terms of really getting those details across. You’ve touched on it there, but maybe, I don’t know, do you have any sort of rituals you go through in your head before sort of going into the court or facing the jury and some of the challenges that you’ve sort of been through? Are there any that have stood out to you over the years? 

Brian Mack 09:59 

Yeah, I mean, I I, there are a lot of challenges with this type of work. The principal challenges are really come down to the to just the technology and dumbing it down in a way that you don’t really lose focus and the jury really understands your side of the case. There’s another challenge though, if you dumb it down too much. There’s, there’s a notion in patent law that if your invention would have been obvious to someone of ordinary skill in the art, you’re not even entitled to the patent in the first place. So if you’re on an IP case, that’s a patent case, and you end up oversimplifying it to the jury. That’s, that’s not really, that’s a smart idea, either, because that really risks the jury finding that your inventions aren’t really special enough that they should be worthy of patent protection. So I think the most challenging thing really is just to strike that delicate balance with the jury, you really have to get across that you came up, you came up with a great a great idea. And this is worthy of IP protection. But you also really have to simplify it enough. So they really understand what you’re talking about what your experts are talking about. Otherwise, it’s just like drinking from a firehose and everything goes over their over their head. So that’s definitely not something that that you want to do. So I think that’s the, there’s not really a ritual, every case, every case is different. Every case is its own brings its own complexities with it. And I really just take each case as it comes.  

Robert Hanna 11:26 

Yeah. And that’s a great mindset as well. And you raise a very interesting point that it didn’t come to me, but it’s an obvious one, like when you say, you know, you can’t make it overly simplified, because then what have you gone away? And, you know, we talked about reinventing the wheel and these amazing creations, there needs to be something that is valuable enough that you need to protect that not everyone is thinking about, hence the value. So they really like that. Okay, let’s talk about some of your cases. You talked about the first seven years, you know, Samsung apple, but you know, it’s just just one you know, what, some huge cases and technology sector, Google, Yahoo, etc, etc. So what are your most interesting or what is the most challenging case to date that stands in your mind? 

Brian Mack 12:06 

Yeah. So when I say I focus on IP cases, that’s really an oversimplification. So like I mentioned before, Quinn Emanuel does really strive to make its lawyers like generalists. So everyone can just should just be able to pick up any type of case and any type of litigation anyway, and run with it. And there’s these commonalities across all forms of litigation. And that firm does a great job nurturing those types of skills. So it’s not really uncommon for me to work on, you know, IP cases one week, and then data privacy cases, breach of contract antitrust, even product liability cases. With my technical background, though, I just personally enjoy, you know, the more technically complex cases, Apple Samsung, it wasn’t, that case wasn’t really challenging because of the technology, necessarily, but it was more challenging just because of all the different venues or jurisdictions that were at play. Like I mentioned, there were two two jury trials, there were also two different International Trade Commission hearings pending in Washington, DC. And there were countless foreign cases there were there were actions filed in the UK, Japan, Germany, Korea, Australia, and I’m probably missing a handful of others. Apple, Apple spread its legal representation around to multiple firms, but Samsung largely trusted, quite a manual to handle everything. So it was really it was truly a transformative matter. For me personally, and for the firm. So I think the apple Samsung smartphone Wars was definitely the the longest matter I was on it was, you know, about seven years, but there have been many, many others. We just finished a there was a trade secret dispute between two electric vertical takeoff and landing air taxi companies here in the in Silicon Valley. So you basically think of, you know, D boarding your plane at the airport, instead of going to the Uber line, you go to the air taxi line, and you have this, this yellow helicopter type contraption that’s all electric, takes off vertically, and then transitions into forward flight, like a plane, and then can land anywhere in downtown New York, downtown San Francisco, wherever, wherever you’re heading. So that there, we’re always on the cutting edge. And that’s what keeps you know, what keeps me here is that we have extremely interesting clients and interesting cases, interesting technology. I feel like I become like the technical subject matter expert on every case, because I’m just so deeply immersed in the technology. After you know, when you file people don’t realise that when you file a case it could take multiple years before it actually makes it to the jury. So during that time you really learn the ins and outs of every different case that you’re working on. And every every case you know brings its own you Any challenges in that regard? 

Robert Hanna 15:01 

Yeah, and like you say, that’s probably what keeps it super interesting for you. And I love that example you give someone is a sort of tech enthusiasts like myself, you know, the air taxi. You know, it reminds me of when we had piers Linney who’s Dragon’s Den, you couldn’t have Shark Tank over here, who was a former lawyer come on the show. And he talks about well, you know, think about it robot. Yeah, I’ve got a young daughter, you know, under three years old, your daughter is not going to trust you to drive a car that will be normal, you know, automated cars are going to be normal in the next you know, 20 years, it’s going to be a new normal behaviour. You look at Wuhan, now they’ve already got automated taxis. You put in a pin to the courier, and then you’re away and go. And so you know, I’m super excited about cutting next technology and things that are going on. And the next thing but like you say, brings those sorts of arguments or people judgments, particularly when it’s trade secrets, because all of that is super important. So let’s stick on trends. And you know, we’re gonna talk about AI in a bit because I can’t not do a podcast and talk about AI nowadays, but you know, what are some of the what are some of the things that you’ve been noticing in terms of trends in the types of cases you’ve been working on? I’m sure there’s a wide variety. But is there any sort of reoccurring trends? 

Brian Mack 16:06 

Yeah, that’s another good question. Since I’ve been at Kwame Manuel, for over a decade now, I have seen a lot of trends, especially on the my IP cases, it used to be the case, when I first started at the firm that we would see a lot of just straight patent infringement case claims with nothing else. Today, we don’t really see straight patent cases, all that often we see more hybrid cases with, you know, patent trade secret. And then other claims like unfair competition, or even antitrust claims. There’s the California unfair competition law, which is in the Business and Professions Code. It’s extremely broad it it generally, it prohibits any unlawful under fraudulent conduct, in connection with with business. courts have interpreted those terms rather broadly. So these unfair competition law claims can be a really powerful tool that are used in parallel with some of these IP claims, like the traditional patent claims. So today, I think there’s a general trend, that we’re seeing more of these hybrid type cases, with traditional IP claims mixed in with with other other types of claims. We’ve also seen, there’s been a dramatic uptick, I would say, in the number of trade secret cases that we’ve been seeing. And I think that’s due in part to the passage of the DTSA, which was the Defend Trade Secrets Act. And that gave companies a private civil right of action in federal court, and it kind of harmonised all the various state laws surrounding trade secret protection. So it’s a it also that act also includes a very expansive definition for what qualifies as a trade secret. So we’ve been seeing a lot of our clients using this, this new DTSA very effectively to combat for example, departing employees that leave that might leave one company with documents containing trade secrets, and then use those documents at their new employer. Unfortunately, it’s a really common fact pattern, especially here in Silicon Valley, where you have mobility of workers and engineers in particular, leaving one company to go work down the street at the next competitor. So we’ve seen a quite an uptick and trade secret cases as well. So I think those are two two trends that that I’ve seen over the past few years. 

Robert Hanna 18:26 

Yeah no, and, you know, with me putting my sort of, you know, legal recruitment hat on the, you know, in terms of what seems like a bad lever, I think there’s some pretty bad examples of that you say in terms of people, you know, not leaving on good terms, and all of that good stuff. Okay. You are undoubtedly a partner in one of the world’s leading litigation firms. You’ve talked about the variety of work that you’ve been able to get your hands on and been able to build out yourself, but just talk us through a typical day, give people a bit of a day in your life, what are some of the responsibilities you have as a partner in such a prestigious law firm? 

Brian Mack 18:59 

I mean, the most important responsibilities are obviously to my clients. So I try to, I try to spend the bulk of my day just, you know, moving forward, all the cases that I’m bet on, obviously, as a partner at a big law firm, I also have business development responsibilities as well. So I do try to reserve you know, I try to reserve 10% of my day, it’s usually push towards the end of the week on business development efforts and networking efforts. It really depends on on how active my my docket is, at any point in time. If I’m a little bit slower, I sometimes spend more time on business development and networking. Usually, that’s not the case. I’m usually very busy on my my, my cases. So that tends to get kind of pushed to the towards the end of the week. But at any any given day, I try to divide my my work between the matters that I’m on so I’m not just focused on one matter for the entirety of the day. I feel like I’m not efficient if I just work You know, eight hours straight on one matter, I don’t think that really benefits me or the client. So I try to do a couple hours on each matter each day. Make sure everything’s moving along. The good thing about Quinn Emanuel is that we have a great, highly capable associate ranks. So I really surround myself with people that I can trust. And I delegate a lot of responsibility and push that, that high quality, substantive work down to the associate ranks. So I’m at this stage in my career, it’s it’s more the high level strategic thinking rather than the the day to day drudgery. Like I mentioned that at the beginning, the good the other good thing at this firm is that, you know, there isn’t really all that much drudgery because we do have such high quality substantive work enough to go around. And we have a lien, a lien staffing model. So even first year, associates are taking depositions, you know, quite a manual. And we kind of outsource a lot of the really monotonous work, like the document review, we kind of outsource to contract attorneys. So yeah, that would be that would be a typical day, it’s a mix of just moving my cases forward each day. And that working and business development, which is equally important in this profession. 

Robert Hanna 21:19 

Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, we’ve had the privilege over here of, you know, recruiting for Quinn Emanuel, and you’re right, you know, the quality of the associates and the quality of the work that the firm has, has undoubtedly, you know, top quality and I love that sort of, you know, what I call elevate and delegate, you know, the smart leadership is find the right people that can really kind of be your be your superstars, empower them and give them the tools to be successful. And, okay, I mentioned before in jest, AI, of course, we do have to talk about that, Brian, given your sort of involvement, and just keen to get your general thoughts because everyone has a view on it. But firstly, you’re involved in the artificial intelligence practice at Quinn, what unique challenges do companies developing or using AI face? 

Brian Mack 22:00 

That’s another great question, Rob. Yeah, and I am part of the we do have a practice group that’s devoted entirely to artificial intelligence. And I’m a part of that practice group. So we see a lot of unique legal challenges facing companies that developer use AI. I mean, I think it’s important to distinguish, I mean, everyone’s today’s the buzzword is generative AI, but I think a lot of people forget that there was AI has been around for a very long time. So generative AI, really is just AI that’s used to output or generate text or computer code, or images or even video, we’ve been working with analytical AI for years, like even you know, when Netflix presents you a list of show recommendations or movie recommendations that you might be interested in, that might even use a form of gender of analytical AI. So we’ve been dealing with AI and working for AI companies for a long time, the new form of AI that everyone’s talking about, but the the buzzword today, the generative AI and the large language models, and Chachi Beatty, things like that. They present many unique legal challenges. The first that a lot of our a lot of our clients ask us is how do we even protect these AI tools these large like these large language models. In both the patent office and the copyright office really require some form of human involvement to be named as an inventor, or an or an author. So it really depends on whether and to what extent a human has used AI as a tool to create the invention or to create the work of authorship, that’s really going to, you know, determine whether or not you’re able to patent or copyright, the AI tool or the outputs of the AI. Another important issue is that we talked about patent protection before a little bit before and how it had to be non obvious in order to qualify to qualify for a patent. There’s another requirement under US law is that there’s under Section 101, the Patent Act that you also have to your invention has to be directed to patentable subject matter. And there’s a lot of exclusions there. You can’t really patent abstract ideas, mathematical algorithms, laws of nature and a whole host of other things. So we also have a lot of our clients asking about patent protections specifically for AI systems and AI tools. And it’s, it’s a difficult challenge, because you really need to frame you have to frame the AI invention, as like a concrete and unconventional application of an abstract idea rather than an abstract idea itself. And that’s tricky to do. Because, you know, AI sometimes is really about the underlying algorithms, right? It’s the machine learning models or the machine learning algorithms, which at their face could be considered an abstract idea, unless you really are coming up with a fundamentally transformative new machine learning algorithm that’s completely unlike anything out there then then then you probably would have a good argument that I would qualify for for patent protection, so we’re kind of advising a lot of clients, you know, the distinction between trade secret protection and patent protection and whether one is more suited for AI innovation than the other. Often it’s a hybrid approach where you want to you want to patent certain elements of your AI system, and then you want to, you know, keep the rest for for trade secret protection, and we find that hybrid solution works the best for most of our clients. But it’s, it’s really a case by case issue. There’s a whole host of legal issues. You’ve probably heard of The New York Times lawsuit, there’s there’s lots of potential copyright issues and class action lawsuits that have been filed. And we all know that that AI is trained on a lot of a lot of immense amounts of data. So what happens if some of that data is copyrighted? So you’ve seen an object in litigation involving potential copyright infringement claims, you know, brought against some of these large language models and other generative AI tools. Copyright law does have a fair use doctrine, that would seem to apply, but the courts haven’t yet definitively ruled on that issue. So that’s a legal challenge. That’s how you isolate yourself from these potential copyright infringement claims. Data privacy is also another big concern with AI companies and the use of AI, I mean, these AI tools, they might be trained on your personal or sensitive data, it might even output some of that personal or sensitive data. So that obviously may raise privacy concerns. And then you have all sorts of potential liability issues when the AI system might make a mistake, or others rely on its outputs. So you mentioned autonomous vehicles earlier. So there’s a question. So if an autonomous vehicle a fully autonomous vehicle with no human interaction gets into an accident, then who’s really at fault is the liability is really not that clear? Is it the it could be the vehicle manufacturer, or it could be the developer of the AI system. If there was a driver that was actually in the driver’s seat letting the AI system manoeuvre, then the driver could be at fault, or it could be some combination of actors under a joint and several liability theory. So are our current legal liability frameworks, they’re not particularly well suited to deal with AI. So companies using or developing AI really need to employ comprehensive, like risk management, risk mitigation strategies. And there’s a whole host of other issues, just just developing those strategies. So it’s an interesting time to be to be a lawyer, especially an IP lawyer. And it’s an interesting time to be to be worth developing AI technologies. But there’s, there’s there’s going to be a whole host of legal hurdles that I that we envision about these companies are going to have to overcome. 

Robert Hanna 27:45 

Yeah, and again, you give so many great examples there. And thank you for that. One question I want to ask that’s just popped into my head is, do you think AI is not going away, technology is not going away, people can fight and contested as much as they want. But that is the trend, you know, you can fight it, or you can get on board with it. Now, of course, there’s lots of challenges along the way. But how is the legal system going to be fit for purpose? You’ve given great examples there where we still are behind the curve with technology going at that speed and the law going at that speed? What’s the solution to your mind? Or how do you get it to a level where actually there is going to be sustainable laws and regulation that can keep speed with innovative technologies? 

Brian Mack 28:24 

That’s another good question. I mean, I think I think the legal frameworks are going to have to adapt, you already have the the AI act in the EU, and you do have some legislative efforts to to change some of these frameworks. Like, for instance, like a liability issue that I mentioned to you. There, the liability frameworks really don’t fit well, with AI systems, you don’t really want to apply strict liability, because if you apply strict but I mean, strict liability, that doesn’t shouldn’t really apply anyway, because these systems aren’t really inherently dangerous. And you don’t really want to apply a strict liability framework to a burgeoning technology field like aI because it could stifle innovation companies, if they know they wouldn’t really develop a new AI system, if they know they’re going to be held strictly liable for any, you know, any harms that come from that system. The fault based models don’t really fit either, because typically, you know, it’s just you have to show a duty of care, and then some, you know, that they follow. So there’s really no framework, either the fault based models, or the strict liability models that really fit AI systems particularly well. So I think the the legal framework is just going to have to evolve and with with the technology, and it’s going to have to be kind of a coextensive evolution and constantly evolving as the technology evolves. And that’s really the only way to solve the problem. 

Robert Hanna 29:53 

Yeah, again, something that comes to my mind I heard on a podcast not so long ago is kind of the concept of Amazon as a company, they’re a continuous improvement company, they’re always working on continuous improvement, the law is going to kind of have to be continuously keeping speed somehow, but in a way that is obviously, you know, the rule of law and everything else that goes with it. So here’s the question that everyone probably listening is still going to want me to ask you, then, Brian, is AI going to replace lawyers anytime soon? And you can caveat this response, just in case it’s 100%. Right? I just said wrong, but give us your take? 

Brian Mack 30:25 

I hope not. I mean, I don’t I don’t think so I think AI is going to be an invaluable tool that makes lawyers more productive and more efficient. You know, the key is really to provide higher quality work product for our clients at a reduced cost. And I think that’s what AI promises to bring. And that’s what has already helped. Our firm has already evaluated several AI tools. For example, discovery and a big litigation with millions of pages of documents, you can use, there already are AI tools that we are using to review some of these documents more efficiently. And finding responsive documents, for example more quickly, or finding potentially privileged documents to elevate those for next level review. So, I mean, because these big litigations are so document intensive AI is just a natural tool that helps lawyers simplify the document review. And then and then with generative AI some lawyers are using generative AI to help with legal research and even draft legal briefs. But you really have to have confidence in the output of those, those AI tools, and you really still need someone to double check that the analysis and the arguments, you know, are accurate and sound and based based in law. So I mean, I think generator AI can save lawyers, you know, countless hours researching case law and formulating arguments, but it’s not going to, it’s not going to completely eliminate the human element. And I don’t think it really, really ever could, you know, you’d have claims of the AI system. You know, unauthorised, you know, performing an unauthorised practice of law. Like there’s really no human element there. So I don’t I don’t see AI, replacing lawyers, I think it’s just gonna make us more productive and more efficient, which is really a win for everybody is a win for the lawyers and a win for our clients. 

Robert Hanna 32:14 

Yeah, well said well said. But it’s not just clients that you advocate for in the courtroom and do a fantastic job. It’s also you advocate for the LGBT community, which I know is important to yourself and also myself and our listeners here. So can you describe your work with the LGBT community? What initiatives have you been part of and what what have been their impacts? 

Brian Mack 32:37 

Sure, I’ve, I’ve always had a very active pro bono docket both have ropes and grey and a quantum manual. And the cases that I take on more regularly than others are asylum cases for LGBT asylum seekers. So I’ve done a handful of those cases always had great great outcomes. There’s there’s a lot of we have relationships with at the firm with other organisations like Immigration Equality that helped refer some of these asylum cases to us. In addition to my pro bono docket, the firm also writes amicus briefs, there was one recently, Title Seven of the Civil Rights Act and the the Bostock versus Clayton County, Georgia case. And that that was a case the Title Seven, it prohibited employment discrimination because of sex. So the the issue that the Supreme Court was facing was B was the because of sex does that necessarily prohibit discrimination of LGBT and transgendered employees? And that decision was a it was a huge win, you know, for the gay and transgender individuals who had challenged their terminations under Title Seven. And the, you know, the Supreme Court settled that that legal question that had been that a divided the lower courts about whether discrimination based on sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination, which the Supreme Court found that it was. So fortunately, working at a big firm, there’s just lots of opportunities like like that, for me to to advocate for LGBT rights. And I hop on most of those opportunities whenever whenever I can. But also to the my pro bono docket would be the other main way that I’m a, I’m a strong advocate for the community as well. 

Robert Hanna 34:21 

Yeah no, and it’s wonderful work that you’re doing. And you know, again, something we’ve talked a lot about on the show is diversity, equity and inclusion. And you obviously, I know you’re a big advocate for that in the workplace. Specifically, can you talk about the benefits you see from diversity and inclusion in the legal workplace? 

Brian Mack 34:42 

Sure, yeah. I mean, I’m a firm believer that diversity of viewpoints leads to higher quality work product, I think it’s logical and makes makes sense. You know, when everyone on your team is really thinking of the same solutions, and no one’s thinking outside the box, your work products and your clients ultimately suffer. So I mean diversity and inclusion, it really changes all that because you’re bringing unique viewpoints from from a variety of people with different backgrounds, different experiences to the table. So in addition to higher quality work product, I think diversity inclusion also fosters a more collaborative and collegial work environment. It also increases I feel like it increases our attorney retention here at the firm. I mean, we do pretty well like recruiting and retention here. But I think because we have such an emphasis on diversity inclusion here, we see less attrition, and then maybe some of our some of our other pure firms. And I think at the bottom, it really just increases employee satisfaction. And it just promotes productivity. I mean, happy attorneys are productive attorneys. So creating an environment of diversity inclusion, you know, it even helps the firm’s bottom line. And I mean, you probably know that Clint Emanuel was one of the first and law firms with a female named partner, Kathleen Sullivan. And we were also the first and law firm with an openly LGBT name named partner, also Kathleen Sullivan. So the firm’s are making strides in the diversity and inclusion arena for over a decade. That was, I think it was 2010 when we Kathleen was becoming a partner at the firm. So it’s been over a decade that the firm has really been making strides in this arena, and we really see it as a key to the firm’s success.  

Robert Hanna 36:27 

Yeah, no, absolutely. And some great examples there that you’ve given. But always say, whenever you’re trying to create change, it’s not straightforward. And you know, there are challenges. And so what are challenges associated with diversity inclusion in the legal industry? And what can lawyers and firms be doing to ensure that they are creating a more inclusive environment for their employees on Indeed, colleagues? 

Brian Mack 36:51 

That’s another good question, Rob. I mean, it’s no, it’s no surprise that big law firms have traditionally been seen as, as boys clubs. I mean, it’s really the the large corporate law firms that have that, that stereotype more than more than others. But historically, I mean, general counsel’s of large companies, you know, have been predominantly white, straight males that like to interact with other white straight males, right? There’s no, no, no surprise there. But, you know, now we kind of see the narrative changing, we have more and more minority GCS coming to the helm. And we’re even seeing most of our requirements now for new new work, when we when we’re invited to pitch a new matter. Part of the pitch actually requires us to list the diversity makeup of the potential trial team, for example. So we’re seeing requirements from almost all of our clients are they start big clients to actually include the diversity makeup of the trial team and our pitches for new work? So I think it’s key it’s key to our growth and key to our success. And I think the biggest challenge is really just overcoming those outdated stereotypes. And then there’s also one just around litigation in general that litigation is also just for, you know, white, white, straight man. And it couldn’t be further further from the truth. But, I mean, fortunately, Quinn Emanuel is such a young firm, we don’t really, you know, we still have you interviewed John Quinn on one of your earlier podcasts, he’s Yes, it’s rare to have a one of the largest litigation law firms in the world still have its name partner actively involved in the firm. So we don’t really have a lot of those stereotypes that are deeply ingrained with other large law firms. But I think if we did that would probably be the biggest the biggest challenge to overcome and in the workplace. It’s been pretty seamless here. But I mean, there’s there’s it’s always an uphill battle just with recruiting and retention that we’ve talked about. We have a whole different channels of recruitment for LGBT attorneys, for example, and minority attorneys and we’re big supporters of those those channels and it’s, it’s we’ve had great success with recruitment and those in those fields, but we can always do more and do better so we’re continually striving to do more and get more minority folks and the firm and keep them at the farm and promote them up through the ranks up to partnership.  

Robert Hanna 39:23 

Yeah, absolutely. Really well said and we absolutely support that here from the show as well. But we’ve really only talked about your part time job to date. Brian so I’d like to talk about your your other serious role as a father to three kids under two years old. So how do you manage to balance your you know, of course I just your personal life with you know, your legal career. What’s the secret? 

Brian Mack 39:49 

Oh, yeah, man. Yeah, 33 kids under two years old, 20 twin boys. And we have a 20 month old daughter as well. Oh, Um, and we have a demanding dog as well, a Siberian Husky named named Joe, so you can’t forget. So we actually have five people in our family including including Julian out. It is demanding, I wouldn’t really recommend having three kids under two years old 21. But we had really, we were very fortunate to have twins in our second surrogacy journey. So and, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s been amazing so far, there’s never really a lot of it had to do with timing, I didn’t really know what the best at a big law firm whether it was better to have kids when I was a junior, a junior associate a mid level associate a senior associate, or just wait until I made made partner. So I decided to go down the ladder route and wait until I made partner. So I was primarily focused, you know, my, my job here at the firm, I think was during the first 10 years of my existence here, it was primarily focused on just killing it here and killing it for my clients. And then I once I made partner, I kind of reevaluated things and said, you know, maybe now’s a good time to do the family route. And I think I think it made a lot of sense. I mean, it with my schedule, it allowed me to kind of focus on the firm, while it was an associate. And now focus a little bit more on family now that I’m partner, but I mean, we have lots of associates with with children. So I’m with even more than than three under two. So you could definitely do it either way. I think the key and I think we talked about this a little bit before the keys really having a place away from home and away from all the distractions to really focus on your work. And I really need to I just need, I need some place to kind of separate family life and workplace and just kind of focus on on each one. It’s tough to try to seamlessly integrate the two because there’s competing, you know, time pressures and, and other commitments, it just doesn’t really work that well. Our firm fortunately has a work from anywhere policy. So I mean, I can be on the ski slopes in Tahoe, or by the pool in Palm Springs, and it all works out just fine. And the you know, we we do a lot of travelling with with the kids as well. Another another key, I think, is just learning to delegate responsibility as much as possible. And we talked a little bit about that earlier, too. So I tried to really focus on just the more most important strategic decisions and moving my cases forward. And that means kind of surrounding myself with highly competent, more junior attorneys that I can trust and rely on. And fortunately here at the firm, we do have a lot of highly competent attorneys that I can trust and rely on so it makes my life you know a million times easier. So yeah, it’s just it’s just tricks like that and I’m still learning I mean, the kids are under two so I’m gonna we’ll see how how it evolves you know, they always say terrible twos so we’ll see if that if that actually holds true with with my kids and see how demanding like personal life is but so far it it’s been amazing and we’ll see we’ll see. 

Robert Hanna 43:12 

Indeed, well you know, I wish you well with that you know as I’m just listening and you know absolutely no I’m a poor and as well as a parent and I think they are absolutely part of the family and you know I’ve got a miniature dashcam called Auto a lot of the community listen no you know he very much is you know, as demanding as are are terrible too, although she’s not so terrible so hopefully it’s not too bad. I think that’s a little bit over exaggerated so I’m sure you’ll be absolutely fine and Brian this masterclass start to finish, I’ve really enjoyed learning about your career, your journey, you’ve shared so much wisdom, and it’s been a cutting edge conversation as well in terms of being sort of forefront of technology and the advice you’re providing for your clients and all the work you’re doing around the industry as well to improve it for good. If our listeners want to learn more, as I’m sure they will about your career journey, or indeed Quinn Emanuel, where can they go to find out more? And is there any particular social media handles you’d like to share? Or shout out? We’ll make sure we also share them with this episode for you too. 

Brian Mack 44:08 

Yeah, I mean, I’m on I’m on all the social media platforms LinkedIn, Instagram, my handles Captain BIM, so captain, be em my initials. And you can always shoot me an email at Brian MCEC when emanuel.com I’d be happy to talk more. There’s no any LGBT candidates similar or tech or tactical candidates with similar backgrounds to mine and they’re considering whether they should move into the legal profession. I’m always happy to have that conversation. 

Robert Hanna 44:37 

Well, thank you so so much, Brian. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the legally speaking podcast and but now from all of us on the show, wishing you lots of continued success, but I’ve run out. 

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