When Atlanta litigator Lori Cohen was a younger lady, she had one objective in life: to grow to be the feminine model of Atticus Finch. Whereas many see their formidable childhood desires fall by the wayside, Cohen made hers come true.
Over the course of three many years, the final two of which have been with Greenberg Traurig, Cohen made a reputation for herself as a “Trial Wizard,” gaining nationwide recognition and amassing a formidable file of 58 protection verdicts in complicated litigations involving prescribed drugs, medical units, well being care and product legal responsibility.
She constructed a lauded profession on the power to talk, advocate and persuade.
Then, with out warning, Cohen wakened one morning in March 2022, turned to talk to her canine Lightning—and nothing got here out.
And it hasn’t since. To this point, no medical skilled has seen a case like Cohen’s, however she has by no means given up hope. Her journey has been an uncharted one, stuffed with inventive options, novel applied sciences and a “attempt something” mentality. It’s additionally one for which she eschews pity.
“I’m not going away,” she states confidently, including, in her sometimes effusive type, “We don’t wish to waste a disaster!”
When Cohen misplaced her voice, she and her husband began pounding the medical pavement, reaching out first to native medical specialists, then casting their internet globally.
They’ve but to search out an evidence or a remedy. However, Cohen has continued to pursue all avenues, regardless of how far-fetched they may sound. Immediately, almost two years later, her mantra stays the identical—she’ll attempt something, do something and go anyplace to get her voice again. “I’ve realized a lot about individuals who have misplaced the power to talk,” Cohen mentioned. “I’m hopeful that I can assist those that can’t assist themselves, both as a result of they have no idea the best way to navigate the programs or would not have entry to the know-how. I hope and intend to take what I’ve realized by means of my journey and discover the perfect methods to pay it ahead to those that may have my assist.”
Whereas Cohen remained ever-optimistic, she rapidly realized that she wanted an alternative choice if she was to proceed advocating for her purchasers and performing her duties at Greenberg Traurig, the place she stays vice chair of the agency, its head of litigation and an energetic member of the chief committee. “The apply of legislation is a good and significant career and never one to be taken without any consideration. Even after my 33 years of working towards legislation, I really find it irresistible and am eminently happy with being a lawyer,” Cohen mentioned. “I particularly love and thrive on being a trial lawyer, which is all I ever needed to be or do rising up. It’s due to these deep sentiments that I’m preventing so laborious to remain on this apply and to return to courtroom and trials relatively than giving up, which I’ve no intention of doing.”
That meant that, as Cohen sought out each medical remedy doable, she additionally sought out each technological resolution that had the potential to carry her voice again. Cohen turned to Gerard Buitrago, litigation assist trial marketing consultant at Greenberg Traurig, and Cohen’s longtime pal, colleague and “secret weapon” with whom she’d labored on trials for greater than 20 years, to assist discover the perfect reply.
First, Cohen discovered a text-to-speech app known as Speech Assistant, which she makes use of for informal, day-to-day communications, although the audio it generates sounds robotic and may solely produce quick responses on the go—not an appropriate resolution for somebody who needed to get again to arguing in courtroom.
Subsequent got here experimentation with instruments that enable customers to enter longer textual content, including punctuation for primary intonation, and to pick out a preset voice that was as shut as doable to Cohen’s. These have been higher choices, but it surely nonetheless wasn’t Cohen. Then the pair found Eleven Labs, the generative AI voice technology firm that’s maybe greatest recognized for its use in leisure settings.
That’s when AI Lori, who Cohen has affectionately named Lola, was born.
In contrast to different applied sciences Buitrago and Cohen had tried, Eleven Labs for the primary time offered the group with the potential for creating an AI voice that really gave the impression of Cohen and that could possibly be used for longer shows and courtroom work. Primarily based on only a couple minutes of previous recordings of Cohen talking, Buitrago was ready to make use of Eleven Labs to supply an output that sounded precisely like Cohen, bringing the sound of her voice again to the world for the primary time in months. Given Cohen’s lengthy and prolific profession of presenting, giving interviews and arguing in courtroom, along with advances in courtroom know-how that embody the recording of trials and arguments, it wasn’t laborious for Buitrago to search out extra enter to feed into Eleven Labs.
With Greenberg Traurig’s assist, he was in a position to pull collectively years’ price of prerecorded materials to additional develop Lola. With the cleanest audio they may discover, Cohen and Buitrago began piecing collectively quick clips to create longer Lola outputs, adjusting the pace, tenor of speech, talking circulate and stage of enunciation to match Cohen’s pure speech patterns. They then paired it with the PowerPoint slides Cohen is thought for in her courtroom appearances. As soon as Cohen’s voice was recreated in Eleven Labs, it was simple to regulate it to be used in numerous settings, corresponding to an off-the-cuff presentation or a proper argument to a choose, Buitrago defined. One lesson he mentioned he rapidly realized, although, was how essential it was so as to add additional punctuation like commas and exclamation factors to information the AI voice on the place to pause, how effusive to be and extra.
Consequently, the Lola output from Eleven Labs has improved over time, changing into higher at intonation and extra carefully mimicking Cohen’s typical means of talking. Now, even with Cohen being a perfectionist—as many attorneys are—a 5-minute clip of Lola that sounds almost similar to Cohen’s pure supply could be finalized in roughly 20 to half-hour, Buitrago estimated.
The remaining hurdle for Cohen and Buitrago is to have the ability to use Cohen’s AI voice on the fly. As of now, there’s no integration between Eleven Labs and any speech-to-text app, that means that Cohen remains to be left with the extra robotic voice by way of on-the-spot typing, if she’s answering questions or speaking in actual time. The pair stays optimistic, although, that this hurdle will quickly be solved.
‘She Has As soon as Once more Discovered Her Voice’
The largest check of the newfound AI resolution got here when Cohen first began utilizing her new AI voice in courtroom. The primary argument occurred within the fall of 2023 earlier than Choose Richard Licht, Rhode Island Superior Courtroom Affiliate Justice, earlier than whom Cohen had appeared many instances as lead protection counsel in a big docket of hernia mesh instances.
Although Licht didn’t hesitate to grant Cohen’s request to make use of her AI voice to argue a movement as soon as he knew his courtroom stenographer was comfy with it, he was additionally fast to notice that the circumstances wouldn’t make him rule in her favor or cease him from treating her like some other lawyer in his courtroom. “I accredited it and he or she got here in, she argued a few the motions. I interrupted her with questions, and he or she was in a position to sort within the solutions and converse,” he mentioned. Whereas initially he mentioned he questioned in his thoughts if it was truthful to interrupt Cohen, he defined, “I handled her the way in which I’d have handled her, had she not had [the AI voice]. And I did it that means as a result of I’ve such respect for her. She’s so succesful that I knew she might deal with it. And he or she dealt with it completely.” Jonathan Orent, member lawyer at Motley Rice, who has ceaselessly appeared as opposing counsel in opposition to Cohen within the product legal responsibility instances earlier than Choose Licht, equally supported Cohen’s novel know-how method. “I’ve litigated in opposition to Lori for years,” he famous. “Along with her new know-how she has as soon as once more discovered her voice. She is each bit as formidable now as she was earlier than.“ Cohen mentioned she all the time offers any courtroom and opposing counsel advance discover of the know-how she makes use of, and up to now nobody has objected. Actually, Cohen famous that they’ve been overwhelmingly receptive and type. And since most courtrooms are actually outfitted to current PowerPoints and audio, Buitrago reported that there haven’t been technical hurdles but in that regard. In talking to a number of of Cohen’s colleagues, together with Licht, many famous that the skilled bar would endure an enormous loss if Cohen might now not argue.
That’s why Licht mentioned he’s open to seeing wider use of options like hers in his courtroom going ahead. “Would the know-how work with somebody that isn’t as ready as Lori? I don’t know. However I will surely be prepared to attempt it with anybody primarily based on my expertise together with her,” he mentioned. By all indications, Cohen’s circumstances haven’t slowed her down—besides possibly in her pure pace of talking, which has universally been described as very quick. Nonetheless, till she regains her pure voice, with the ability to take part in a full trial with the assistance of AI stays the objective. “There may be an excessive amount of to be executed nonetheless at my agency, with my purchasers and in my business,” Cohen defined. “Being a mentor and inspiration for these coming behind me and people on my group or in my agency is of vital worth and significance. I’ve received awards for being a trailblazer and there’s way more to do nonetheless. As one of many early first chair feminine trial attorneys in my merchandise legal responsibility, medical gadget/pharmaceutical and bet-the-company/mass torts specialty areas, there’s extra to show, extra to do, extra to mentor and extra trails to blaze.” To get there, Cohen has the complete assist of each her agency and her purchasers. “Lori’s revolutionary journey to discover a new means ahead within the apply of legislation has been a pleasure to assist and we’ll proceed to help her in all her efforts,” mentioned Richard Rosenbaum, government chairman of Greenberg Traurig. “Her resilience and drive on this course of, coupled with the ingenuity of her options to challenges, exhibit a energy of character that many aspire to, and few obtain.”
One in all Cohen’s purchasers, Shari Mulrooney Wollman, vice chairman and assistant normal counsel at Mattel Inc., echoed these sentiments, and was assured that others within the business would embrace Cohen’s resolution to the lack of her voice. “Lori is a formidable trial lawyer on the prime of the career,” she mentioned. “We’ve nice confidence that judges and juries all through the nation will share our respect for her refusal to let her challenges outline or restrict her in any means. It has additionally been inspiring to see AI know-how redefine what it means to present voice to incapacity.”
In the meantime, Buitrago continues to analyze each new product that’s launched within the ever-changing AI market, within the fixed pursuit of creating Cohen’s AI presence within the courtroom even stronger.
A True ‘Road Fighter’ and Mentor, Now and All the time
Past her well-known trial abilities, Cohen has additionally made a reputation for herself as a powerful mentor over the course of her profession, and it’s a task she continues to embrace, each within the authorized business and past. When requested what she desires individuals to find out about her story, along with the give attention to her trial work, Cohen emphasised that it’s not considered one of pity, however considered one of hope, optimism and battle.
She additionally famous that, whereas hers is a narrative about know-how, it’s additionally a narrative about Massive Legislation having an enormous coronary heart.
It’s simple to see why Cohen feels that means if you learn the testimonials of lots of her colleagues at Greenberg Traurig, the place themes of mentorship and management have been raised repeatedly. “Lori is the uncommon mixture of consummate trial lawyer, distinctive chief, devoted mentor and nice pal that her purchasers, colleagues, Greenberg Traurig and I discover important to our success,” mentioned agency CEO Brian Duffy. “Her inventive method to case technique, acumen in managing probably the most complicated and voluminous litigation, and lots of courtroom victories, are legend. She is a frontrunner that has helped to advance the careers of quite a few proficient, various litigators at our agency and past. Contemplating all that she has achieved, I’ve little doubt that she is going to proceed to be a number one gentle within the authorized career.”
Equally, Ernest Greer, president of Greenberg Traurig, famous that he was “not shocked that she has addressed this current problem with the identical unfailing grit, tenacity, and creativity for which she is famend as a litigator and chief in legislation.” He added that since Cohen has “all the time been an inspiration to her colleagues and friends for her dedication to the authorized career, a champion for variety, and a mentor to younger attorneys, this triumph illustrates yet one more means that Lori is an instance to emulate.” Even when Cohen have been to regain her talking voice tomorrow, she mentioned that, whereas she would in fact be thrilled, she would proceed to battle to assist individuals who want know-how help to talk. Ever the optimist, Cohen was fast to level out that she could be very fortunate to have fingers that may nonetheless sort, when so many individuals with out voices don’t, and he or she desires to advocate for them. “There may be work to be executed and I intend to do it even when I get cured,” she mentioned.
That tenacity comes as no shock to those that have come up within the career beneath Cohen’s tutelage. Marcella Ducca, a shareholder in Greenberg Traurig’s Atlanta workplace, who was herself mentored by Cohen in her earlier years, known as Cohen “a avenue fighter [who] approaches her present medical challenges with the identical zeal that she does in taking over each new case and battling each opponent.”
The overwhelming assist of the agency, which Cohen admitted was past her expectations, has additionally given life to the concept of teamwork, which is oft-touted however much less ceaselessly embodied in massive organizations. “We really feel that now, extra so than ever, we now have in Lori somebody we wish to make proud, but additionally somebody to admire who is constant to work exceptionally laborious in the course of difficult circumstances,” Ducca mentioned. “As we navigate them, Greenberg Traurig has been extremely supportive—not simply of Lori, however of the group that Lori has created. We frequently speak in regards to the ‘GT household’ and I really by no means understood that phrase till now.”
Whereas Cohen stays dedicated to getting again into trial quickly, she has refused to let herself be sidelined in her different life passions—like seeing the Rolling Stones in live performance (she’s as much as 145 stay exhibits and counting). “Know-how and AI is instrumental proper now in serving to me to steer my life totally and vigorously and to apply legislation in the identical methods,” she concluded. “I’m dwelling life within the ‘entrance row,’ as all the time.”