UniCourt Influencer Q&A with David Carter of Calloquy

on Topics: Future Law | Influencer Q&A | Legal Tech

UniCourt Influencer Q&A with David Carter of Calloquy

When the Covid-19 pandemic forced attorneys, law firms, and courts to shift to virtual depositions, mediations, and adversarial proceedings, David Carter, CEO and President of Calloquy, saw a real need in the market for a purpose built videoconferencing solution for the legal industry. 

Combining his interest in technology with his impressive career working as a lawyer in the telecommunications industry, David founded Calloquy with the intent to deliver an intuitive videoconferencing interface and evidence management system to make attorneys’ lives easier and improve access to justice for their clients. 

We loved hearing from David about the Next Era of Litigation™, and hope you enjoy reading about his journey as a telecommunications lawyer turned legal tech founder! 

Tell us your story. What is your background, and what led you to what you are doing now?

My background is diverse and varied, by design. After completing an undergraduate degree in public policy at the College of William & Mary, I was one of two people hired to form the William & Mary Washington Center, which helped connect students and alumni to the nation’s capital. The Washington Center now offers year-round educational opportunities and internship programs to students from William & Mary with thousands of students having benefited from gaining first-hand experience in DC.  

After spending time in DC, I decided that I wanted to return to school and decided to pursue a law degree at William & Mary Law School. I have always been interested in technology and during law school, I had the great good fortune to work with the Center for Legal and Court Technology (CLCT), which is a joint venture of William & Mary Law School and the National Center for State Courts. CLCT works to improve the administration of justice through the use of technology, and it was there that I first began to think about and understand how technology could improve our legal system by reducing costs and barriers.  

After law school, I joined the law firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice (now Womble Bond Dickinson) in Washington, DC where I was a business litigation associate. Here, I began to have exposure to the area of telecommunications regulation and litigation.  

After a few years of practice, I left the practice of law to work fulltime with a nonprofit that I had helped to form while I was in law school. The nonprofit focused on leveraging the power of Virginia’s higher education institutions to provide community and economic development capacity to some of Virginia’s most economically distressed communities. As Director of Programs for that nonprofit, I ran an intense residential summer program for college students from across Virginia to equip them with the skills to understand complex social and economic challenges and build both for profit and nonprofit solutions that were scalable. I also had the great pleasure of forming a collaboration with Craigslist Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service to help leverage technology to match students to high impact service opportunities with nonprofits in their communities. Eventually, our organization became the Center for Social Entrepreneurship at George Mason University, just outside of Washington, DC, where I served as Chair of the Center’s advisory board. George Mason now offers both graduate and undergraduate degree programs focusing on social entrepreneurship.

Eventually, I returned to the practice of law, focusing exclusively on the area of telecommunications litigation. First at Arent Fox LLP (now ArentFox Schiff) and then as the founder of a boutique telecommunications litigation firm, Innovista Law PLLC, I represented telecommunications carriers in matters regarding the Federal Communications Commission and in federal litigation across the country. I also formed a specialized practice regarding compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which is the federal law that governs telemarketing and text-message marketing to consumers.  

In 2019, my team and I returned home to Womble Bond Dickinson’s Washington, DC office. I began work on what is now Calloquy shortly after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic when the whole world suddenly shifted to virtual communication. I did not initially set out to start a company, but decided to do so after concerns surfaced about the security of commercial off-the-shelf videoconference platforms that were not purpose-built for adversarial proceedings and were not designed to protect the attorney-client privilege. After seeing my colleagues struggle to proficiently conduct virtual depositions, I decided it was time for Calloquy. 

What is Calloquy? Can you explain what it does and what motivated you to found it?

Calloquy is an Atlanta-based public benefit company (PBC). The Calloquy platform is the first remote litigation platform designed for how litigators are practicing law today; what we refer to as the Next Era of Litigation™. Legal proceedings no longer take place exclusively in person and it is apparent that they never will again. Calloquy is a more secure, more familiar, more intuitive, more efficient virtual environment than the mass-market videoconference platforms that were hastily deployed during the pandemic. The platform delivers an intuitive videoconferencing interface and evidence management system, but with a level of formality and security befitting the litigation and dispute resolution processes. The platform employs role and party-based identifications to facilitate secure and efficient and more fruitful chats. Calloquy makes life easier for attorneys and eliminates costs, both direct and indirect, associated with litigation. All of this provides a powerful antidote to systemic access to justice challenges.

As a PBC, we are a for profit company that has expressly committed to an access to justice mission. Calloquy intends to fulfill that mission by allowing legal aid organizations and pro bono attorneys free access to the platform to conduct client meetings, depositions, mediations, and arbitrations. The platform enables these attorneys to serve more clients by reducing or eliminating travel costs, saving time, and making the entire process of representation more efficient. The company employs about 50 people in Atlanta, with offices opening soon in Texas and California.  

Calloquy sits at the intersection of three parts of my career: technology, litigation, and social impact. I believe that the practice of law has fundamentally shifted, and that current and future generations of lawyers need the right tools that allow them to operate in this hybrid environment where diverse and dispersed teams are becoming the expectation, not the exception. Those tools must uphold the integrity of the legal process and promote efficiency and reduce costs.  

In a recent opinion post you published on Calloquy’s blog titled “To Protect and Defend,” you shared that Calloquy’s guiding purpose is to ensure that the legal system works for everyone. What do you see as Calloquy’s role in the judicial system?

In order to participate in the legal system, you have to be present. And in order to be present you either need reliable transportation or you need a reliable technical solution that allows you to participate from the convenience of your home or office.

The old-fashion form of being present has imposed a lot of costs on low-income individuals. Unpaid time off from work, childcare, the cost of transportation, and then it has often meant sitting around for hours just waiting for your case to be called.

Since the pandemic, courts and lawyers have become more receptive to participation through technology. But, there too, the “digital divide” can make justice unreachable for too many. While other people and numerous federal agencies are hard at work in solving the digital divide and providing access to broadband, access to broadband does not ensure access to justice. Calloquy, therefore, partners with legal aid organizations and pro bono attorneys to ensure that they have access to a reliable, safe platform to meet with their clients and conduct secure depositions, arbitrations, and mediations. By providing an easy-to-use platform, we give attorneys back their most precious commodity – time – so that they can serve even more people. Calloquy’s role in the judicial system is to make the process more efficient so that there are more lawyers available to assist those that have been traditionally underserved.   

How does Calloquy enhance the litigation process for a spectrum of legal professionals, from outside counsel and in-house counsel to government lawyers, court reporters, mediators, and arbitrators?

Whether you’re an equity partner at an AmLaw100 law firm or a solo practitioner or a government attorney, the platform allows litigators to engage, meet with, interview, depose, and otherwise interrogate anyone anywhere in the world without spending a single minute at the airport. In-house counsel will be able to manage and meet with their legal teams around the country and stay up-to-date on the progress of any cases where their outside counsel use Calloquy to facilitate the matter.  

Calloquy helps make the lives of court reporters easier through its innovative table view option, which puts the lawyers and witnesses in the appropriate place during depositions and arbitrations.  Instead of the “Hollywood Squares” version where people appear on the screen randomly, table view helps focus attention on the key actors, while decluttering the screen. 

Calloquy is designed to make virtual mediation easy. Mediators can easily navigate Calloquy’s secure party-based breakout rooms to facilitate fruitful and efficient mediations instead of having to struggle with setting up breakout rooms.

For arbitrators, all of Calloquy’s unique features (table view, evidence management, real time transcription, secure breakout rooms) come together to make virtual arbitrations seamless and secure.  With all of the right tools at their disposal in a single platform, arbitrators are firmly in control of the proceeding, ensuring more efficient resolution of disputes.

How has your experience as a partner at Womble Bond Dickinson counseling technology companies and telecom carriers through business disputes involving new business models and service offerings impacted your view on the ability of legal technology to disrupt the legal profession?

My career as a telecommunications lawyer has focused heavily on expanding opportunities for rural and underserved areas both here at home and internationally. I have worked with hundreds of rural phone companies and dozens of Native American tribes to expand opportunities and promote the efficient use of taxpayer resources to create equity. I have also worked with cutting edge text message marketing providers and social media companies that have completely changed how brands engage with their customers. Those experiences, combined with seeing the costs for small businesses to address legal disputes, impacted my views about disruption and the legal profession. When the opportunity exists for people to participate in the process without the costs and inconvenience of travel, I think that’s a positive change because the system becomes more accessible.

What are some of your favorite sayings? What are some real-world examples of how you’ve seen those sayings come to life?

One of the mantras I tend to repeat often these days is that “if it was easy, it already would have been done.” For many people in the company, this is their first time in a startup environment. They’re helping to build all our systems and processes from the ground-up and witness first-hand the complexities of starting a business that is intentionally designed for scale.

What are your goals for the rest of 2022? What projects are you working on? Are there any events in the legal tech and legal innovation space we should know about?

Calloquy just celebrated its official launch at an event at the National Center for Civil Human Rights in Atlanta. Michele DeStefano, founder of LawWithoutWalls and author of Legal Upheaval, headlined the event with a message focusing on seeing innovation and technology as a path to both justice and client service. Our goal now is to continue forging relationships with the nation’s top tier firms that understand the value proposition that virtual litigation can deliver to their clients. 

Where can we learn more about you and your work?

You can visit our website at www.Calloquy.com. I am always happy to speak about the intersection of law and technology and their experiences navigating the next era of litigation. 

Ushering in the Future of Virtual Litigation and Dispute Resolution

David Carter understands the disruptive power of telecommunications done right. Through founding Calloquy as a public benefit company, David is not only seeking to disrupt the way the legal profession views videoconferencing as a secure, reliable, and preferred option to in person legal proceedings, but he also expressly committed the company to an access to justice mission centered on improving the way people participate in the legal process. 

We’re excited to see what the future holds for David and Calloquy!