Episode 4: Litigation Analytics and the Use of AI Transcript
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Wesley Todd [00:07]: This is the Litigation Management podcast. And I’m your host, the CEO of CaseGlide Wesley Todd. And the Litigation Management podcast is where I interview some of the most successful and influential people in and around Litigation Management. And as I’ve shared in the previous pods, I’m going for home runs, not singles, we’re not talking to people with the latest case law, or the latest legal strategy. We’re talking about people, building the future of industries, if we’re lucky, like we are today, the actual future, the legal industry, and how that change impacts you, my audience, mostly adjusters mostly claims execs, mostly lawyers. I have unbelievable guests lined up. Today’s is no exception. Today on the LM pod, I have the person that’s digitizing the case data, the court data himself, Rick Merrill. Rick is digitizing this entire court system and turning it into a product for you and me. Rick is the CEO and founder of Gavelytics. Rick, welcome to the podcast, I want you to tell us how you started Gavelytics. It’s a great story. And tell me what you’re working on now?
Rick Merrill [01:15]: Yeah, thank you, Wes. Really an honor to be here. I’ve been looking forward to this. So as you said, I am the founder and CEO of Gavelytics. And what Gavelytics, is a software platform that collects litigation records from around the country, both from state trial court systems and the federal district courts now. And we normalize them, review them with human lawyers and tease out interesting patterns of behavior and pieces of information. You can say it more succinctly and call it litigation analytics, and that’s what we do. And so we’ve been doing this now for a number of years. We’re about nearly six years into the lifecycle of the business. And we sell quite successfully into the AM LAW 200, the biggest law firms in the world we sell into the fortune 1000. We’re starting to work with insurers and have been for a little while, but really are trying to dip our toe into it a bit more, which is why we’re here today. But to tell you a little bit about the origin story. So I’m a former litigator, I spent about seven years litigating here in Los Angeles for Greenberg Traurig, and I was a real estate litigator. And as the audience is no doubt aware, trials at the big law firm level are pretty rare. When you work for a small law firm or a midsize law firm, you might be in trial multiple times a year. At the big law firm level, in most practice groups. That’s not true. You might have you know, a couple of trials a decade if you’re lucky. And I found myself in two different trials. And by the way, this is 10 years ago or more. I found myself in two different trials that were very sophisticated yet big law firms on both sides, a few 100 million dollars at stake. And in both cases, we represented the defendant, which was a major real estate developer, and it was a bench trial and so both of them are bench trials. So no jury, just the judge, and we felt great. We thought we had the best law the best facts the best lawyers and we were not successful. The trial court level in either of those cases. We got absolutely creamed by the trial court judge. And that experience was so shocking for me, and the response of the partners on the case was so candidly, in my view, inept. The response is basically that oh, well, we lost because the judge is a big Berkeley liberal, right. Are we lost because the judge hates Goldman Sachs or you know, that that sort of thing. And that struck me is really silly. Greenberg Traurig is a billion dollar law firm. You know, why didn’t we know that? Why didn’t we know in advance that this judge never grant summary judgment? Why didn’t we know in advance that maybe this judge always rules against developers, you know, that that sort of thing. And it struck me as a very notable thing, something that is measurable and grounded in empirical reality, and therefore we should know it as a huge business. So I assumed that Westlaw and Lexus Bloomberg and others did this. And it turned out they sort of did, but only in a very limited way. The federal district court level, there were no state court analytics in existence some years ago. And so I quit. I saw this as a big business opportunity and went out and started the business and we’ve had some good success over the last several years and really, I think we’re widely perceived as the leader in state court litigation analytics all over the country. So that’s the origin story. It’s really born of failure. I hate to admit but it is true and so now, you know our hope is that our clients can use our data set and see our analytics and all this and learn things about the judge and opposing counsel and the jurisdiction they’re in, and all these other things that were previously hidden and previously unknowable, and so that’s what we do.
Wesley Todd [05:18]: Now, that’s a great origin story of Rick. And when I heard it, I was hooked as a recovering lawyer myself. I know the story. And I asked this, you know, similar questions when I was working at the largest insurance defense law firm at the time. And, you know, I wanted to bring you on, because I wanted to show the audience that there is hope, I mean, that litigation is changing, and it’s going to change forever. You’ve seen more data than anybody has in it probably in history of the world because all the litigation goes on in state courts in reality. And you know, for if you’re an adjuster and attorney in you want to be relevant 5 or 10 years, you know, that this is exactly what’s going to happen. And I think it’s, I don’t know what it was about that time period or about, you know, people around our age, but we just don’t accept that that oh, you know, you didn’t know we know any age, and you can grab any piece of information you want. I just love that story. Because it just makes so much sense. And it just makes the situation sound you know, so ridiculous, and what I like about what you’re doing, and it’s something that I think a lot of companies face challenges within legal tech. And even we face challenges with it a CaseGlide, and I’m sure you feel like you face challenges with it as well, I think just doing reporting or analytics is lazy. What you do is you put it into dashboards, and you try to actually give people information at their fingertips. I think we pass the generation of here is a report, go run it yourself. And we’re now at the point of I’m going to hand you a tool to do something with it. You may not even know anything about the data beneath it. But here’s a tool that’s going to give you an answer to a question. That’s what when I saw the demo, that’s what I really loved about it. Would you mind telling us like a little bit more about what questions can be answered with the case data?
Rick Merrill [07:18]: Yeah, sure, sure. So our very first product was a judge analytics product. So we would measure the tendencies of judges at the state trial court level in states across the country. And so we could tell you the rates at which different judges grant particular motions, we can tell you how fast or slow the judges, we could tell you what tends to happen in in a bench trial before the judge. And all of that is divisible by case type. So you could zoom in on personal injury, you could zoom in on bad faith insurance claims, you can zoom in on real property litigation, which was my area of expertise. And all of the metrics that we compute are always compared to some anchor point, to some reference point, which is typically the jurisdictional average. And the reason for that is believe it or not, there’s some other companies out there that do litigation analytics that that will tell you that okay, Judge Wes does something 30% of the time. Well, it’s hard to know what that really means. It’s 30% a lot. Is that a little. And so you know, if you think about baseball, I’m a big baseball fan, very often. Anytime you’re looking at baseball statistics, they’re often referenced to other statistics within baseball. So you’ll say that, well, this guy’s hitting 300 when the league average is 260. So you now know, okay, he is a better than average. So we tried to do the same thing with judges. And so if we say that this judge grants motions to compel it at 45% of the time, and in a case like this, well, it turns out the county average is 10%. So this judge is now 4X as likely as the other judges in the county to grant this thing, you’ve just learned something of tremendous, tremendous value. And so that’s a very important thing that we do. And so that’s just specific to judges, we also have data, similar data about opposing counsel and law firms, parties to litigation, jurisdictions, and all of those things and, and to your earlier point you know, quite honestly, it used to make me angry that I didn’t know these things. So I mean, I would wake up in the middle of the night, just frustrated, I’m not exaggerating this, this is a true story. And upon reflection, that the reason I was so upset is exactly what you said, Wes, which was that, really it’s unacceptable in this day and age and even several years ago, it’s unacceptable not to know these things. And the practice of litigation really should be subject to empiricism and measurement in the same way that other professions are. So just like finance, just like medicine, just like engineering, that those professions have been rigorously grounded in empiricism for decades or even centuries in certain cases. The practice of law has not been that way. It’s long been based on custom and rumor and anecdote and all these other things. And so when a new case gets filed you know, there isn’t necessarily a statistical guide about what to do. And there shouldn’t be, you know, it used to drive me crazy. And this lack of knowledge, I used to refer to it as an information black hole. And in no area of our modern lives, do we tolerate information black holes, none of us would go to a restaurant, pre COVID. Of course, you know, none of us would go to a restaurant without checking Yelp, right. You wouldn’t go on a date without maybe looking at somebody’s Facebook page you know, you wouldn’t go on a vacation without reading reviews and checking how many stars a hotel has, and that sort of thing. And yet here in our professional lives in litigation, we just blindly fly into court and you know, and treat the judge as if the judge is the same as every other judge. And of course, that isn’t true. Judges are humans like anybody else. They have different life experiences, and legal philosophies and all these things that bear on the way that they actually exercise their discretion. And similarly, law firms and lawyers, obviously, are as different as can be and you need to know that and you need to act accordingly. One of the great things that we do, for example, is we can tell you how often a plaintiff’s firm actually goes to trial, which is a very useful thing to know. So often, there are plaintiffs firms whose job it is to just file a complaint and settle or send a demand letter and settle that that’s just what they do. And if you could know that in advance, look, this law firm hasn’t been to trial in 11 years, you know, we just we just looked at something the other day, and that was true with a plaintiff’s firm here in Southern California. They haven’t actually been to a full scale trial in 11 years. Well, wouldn’t you love to know that during settlement discussions you know, so when they’re pounding the table, making all these threats, oh, we’re taking this to trial, can say, No, you’re not or you’re not likely to, and so you can settle more effectively. And then similarly, you can through these empirical measurements, you can now determine which defense firms might be best optimized to handle this particular case, because they’re not all the same, or the lawyers within them are not all the same. And so you can better select panel counsel, and you can match that on to their rate information, and all these other things. And so I think that the big takeaway here is that the future is measurable, it’s a quote that I like to say, and also that the law really should be grounded in empiricism, just like medicine, just like engineering and so on. And you know, I like to think that we’re at the forefront of that, and really arming people with knowledge that they can take advantage of, and really important, also measurable ways.
Wesley Todd [12:50]: Yeah. I mean, anybody that was listening to that, I’m sure they thought about exactly how they would use that, if you’re having litigator and in you know, you’re a big thinker, and I am also try to be a big thinker. And I think about you know, we’re capturing the data as a Litigation Management software on the you know, day to day between you know, really is kind of a client centric tenant, you know, we’re looking at the insurance company, and then all their nodes of the law firms. And what you’re doing is just going to write for the complete data, the whole data set, and insurance companies and any corporations that they have all they have opportunities within their own data set, that they’re not tapping a lot of these same answers. And then there’s that next level of things that they would never have access to, because you actually have to have both, as we found you have to have, how are you doing, and then how’s everybody else doing? And we kind of, it’s evolving almost on a day to day basis, as we go to different customers, and we get these different customer groups, there’s no way that you can’t, we can’t bank and bet on us having every case in there, you know what most we’re gonna have you know, a small fraction of the cases, you know, less than a percent probably of the courthouse in the country. And we’re going to need, you know, everybody’s going to need access to the new lawyer that pops up. In fact, that’s probably the biggest delta that somebody already have data on, and you might have some internal experience. So you know, thinking of this, thinking of the power of what you’re doing, and then all the different applications that can be built off of that, and then how that can meld in with the insurance company or a Claims Department. It makes me wonder like, what are you thinking? What’s your vision for? What does Litigation Management look like in 5 or 10 years? You know, we play around with this. But you know, you’re tackling it from a completely different perspective. And then obviously our audience, a lot of them are actually handling the cases and so they’re not as fortunate as us to have this time. But, you know, court data, litigation finance these different entrants into the market, like 5 years, 2026, 10 years you know, 2031. What does being a litigator? What does the court system look like, Rick?
Rick Merrill [15:26]: Yeah, yeah, great question. You know, we can talk for a couple days about that one. What I will say is this is that technology is going to radically reshape the practice of litigation. And that right there is not a controversial statement. I’ll making controversial statements later today but that one is not. Obviously, a lot of people for a long time have been saying that technology is going to change things, but it really will. And we’re already seeing that in lots of ways. And one of them, of course, is through artificial intelligence. And I want to be very clear, artificial intelligence is a very powerful tool. But it’s also in some ways fantastically overrated and misunderstood. The type of artificial intelligence that is most relevant to today’s discussion is machine learning, which people hear about all the time. And to give you an idea, by the way about how overrated even machine learning can be. I play a fair amount of golf and saw watch golf on TV. And there are television commercials right now for golf clubs that have been designed with machine learning, it’s now you know filtered down into the advertising buzzwords for golf clubs, which shows you that it’s gotten a little a little crazy. And so I think a lot of people misunderstand what machine learning actually is, and isn’t all machine learning is better pattern matching algorithms, and an algorithms is just a piece of code. It’s simply superior pattern, pattern matching, that’s all it is, it just happens to be a lot better than the old non machine learning style of pattern recognition. And what we did, the reason that’s relevant to the practice of law is because with old technology, it was very, very hard to sift through big amounts of data, lots of case law, lots of complaints, lots of billing records, lots of court dockets, whatever it was. It was hard to sift through them, and it was hard to deduce patterns with high reliability with high accuracy, you can now do that far, far easier. And that’s what we do at Gavelytics is we turn machine learning loose on a huge amount of normalized court records and all these things, and we’re able to extract patterns that really couldn’t exist before, and so that is just the beginning. Machine learning what once it really is applied properly to some of the problems that we’re seeing in litigation in this coming decade, the practice of law will be utterly unrecognizable in 10 years. I am honestly a little nervous for people who are in law school right now or contemplating law school, because it’s going to be so completely different, and it’ll be different a few ways. One is increased automation, a lot of the things that lawyers do, a lot of the things that people do in CLM, it will be completely automated totally outside of the hands of humans. And lawyers will only come in to edit, for example, briefs that have already been written by a machine, you’re going to take a complaint and drag it into a box and an answer will be automatically generated, there’s already a company that does that. And that sort of thing will become the norm and then the job of the lawyer will be to really double check it to make sure that it makes sense and all this. Same thing with actual litigation briefs, a motion to dismiss will get filed and okay, the job the lawyer now will be to run that brief through a machine that will respond to it, and then you edit it, make sure that it’s right, and then you go file it. So instead of spending a couple of days on a brief or multiple hours you know, it’ll take 30 minutes. And that sort of thing will have immense consequences on the billable hour, on the cost of legal services, on all sorts of things. So much is coming and it’s by the way, I think it’s fundamentally good. I think for lawyers that are practicing right now, it’s fundamentally going to make your life better. You do however have to get ahead of the curve, you have to understand these things are coming become proficient in them. And don’t be afraid, because if you’re afraid it’s you know, you’re in trouble. But it’s coming and I think it’s actually going to be good but the industry will be unrecognizable. I should say, the practice will be unrecognizable by the end of this decade and in the industry to and in terms of who are the leaders and legal technology, they will also be radically different tonight. I’ve got a lot of thoughts about who those winners are going to be and why, but anyway it’s really an exciting time.
Wesley Todd [19:44]: Well, let’s park that winners and why off to the side. I’m just gonna share my perspective. You know, you’re a good guy too. We do a lot of work for the corporations, right. And we are you know, our goal is you know, we both come from representing the corporations and trying to keep costs down and keep litigation down, pay things fairly, pay things they should be paid but you know, no more. And what the problem with corporations is the very slow to adopt this, I wouldn’t just you know, I wouldn’t blame them. I would also just sort of blame the legal community. There shouldn’t be you know, 100 of us. The opportunity is so big for people like us. I mean, we you know, there shouldn’t just be a handful of people focusing on litigation tech, there’s legal tech everywhere nobody cares about like litigation technology. And now, that’s fine. For me, it’s given me a new more time to you know, get a head start. So I think there’s some blame on the actual legal industry. I think there’s blame on the corporations for not really adopting this stuff fast enough. But they’re adopting it, you know, fast enough at least to maintain. But you know, when somebody is listening to you saying those things, about 5 or 10 years from now, they say, well, that someone said it to me five years ago. I think the difference is today, that the plaintiffs’ bar is getting geared up the plaintiffs’ bar, there is so much money going to the plaintiffs’ bar, and that money has to go somewhere, it’s going to go to technology. And it is going to technology, litigation finance is not going to lawyers, it’s going to technology. And well, it’s going to both but it’s definitely going to technology we’re seeing there’s you can just look at that. The ways that they’re finding claimants, you know, they’re finding claimants through the court records, they’re finding claimants through algorithms, they’re looking at trends in their own legal in their lawyers data, they’ll participating law firms data and finding new claimants, and they’re working around the rules there. But I predict, and for those naysayers, that the plaintiffs’ bar is going to really make this, it’s not going to be because the corporation’s adopted it and one, it’s going to be tickets or corporations that their backs against the wall and they had no choice. Plaintiffs’ bar came through, everything’s automated, they’re firing off lawsuits left and right, the memos are better than the humans. And you know, there’s just no choice in the matter, and you’re going to have to have this tech. And so I mean, what do you think about that, like you were talking about who the winners and losers are? Does that, you know, how do you feel about, like, why this actually is imminent? And when I say imminent, I still mean probably five years, but you know for those people out there that kind of had not seen a whole lot of change in the past 15 years to look at their email inbox every day. What do you have to say to them?
Rick Merrill [22:48]: Yeah, yeah, good question. I agree that a lot of this will be driven by the plaintiffs’ bar. And you’re right, with the rise of litigation funding, which was not a thing. Not even that long ago, that now plaintiffs are better financed, they can hang in cases longer, they can conduct more discovery, they can do lots and lots of things that they just couldn’t do before. Your points a very good one about the quality of work from plaintiffs. So some of the consequences of brief automation and research automation and things like that is that their legal work product will be better than it is right now. My personal bias coming from a you know amyloid 100 defense firm is I’m a pro defense guy I look down on plaintiffs lawyers you know that that’s my personal bias. And sometimes it’s a legitimate, there are legitimate reasons to feel that way. You’ll see complaints that are gibberish, you’ll see briefs that are sloppy from the plaintiffs. That isn’t always the case. But that is the stereotype is that they are volume shops, they try to get you know, 200 cases at any given time and some settle some go to trial and get dismissed. It’s just a numbers game for them. Imagine if suddenly big law firm level work was coming out of the average plaintiff shop, right? I mean that is a distinct possibility. And so one of the things that’s going to happen, I think the big law firms are actually going to get pinched a bit, because right now their whole claim to fame the reason that they charge $1,000 an hour the reason they live or work in these huge buildings and all these things is because they’re better right? You know, Latham is just better than small law firms, that’s just a fact. Will that be true forever? However, you know, one wonders and I would argue no, that in a decade’s time, and it could take longer. I mean, this is not going to be immediate. But I think the segregation of legal expertise into these very specialized expensive big law firms. I think that’s going to fragment a bit and I think you’re going to see through technology expert level litigation ability really become democratized. And you’re going to see plaintiffs that have you know, almost superpowers by today’s standards, and so it’s time to watch out. I would say if you’re on the corporate side or the insurance side, but you know what one important point to that is, is really worth touching on. And we can get to this now or later today, Wes, but this is not just an issue of technology, this is also an issue of people. This is also an issue of workflows, and for the insurance carriers listening, for people in that industry and for the CLM professionals, it’s not just about the technology that these businesses will buy, you have to change the way people think you have to change the workflows, you have to do a lot of things. And some of those changes can be small, others are going to be big. So it’s not enough, it’s not enough to just go buy some snappy new software and think that you’re done, you actually have to change the way that you think about things. And I’ll give you a quick example of this. Five years ago, when our business was new, and AI was kind of entering into the average person’s lexicon, we would get phone calls from major law firms that would say, hey, you know, I’m supposed to buy AI, you know, do you guys have AI? And that was sort of sad for them, we’d say, oh gosh, you know, and we’d have to explain to them that, that AI is just a tool on the way to get you to the result that you need. And you need to focus on the result and the goals, you know, not the mechanism to get there, which was the focus on AI. So I think the markets become a little more sophisticated in that they now are more solution focused rather than say mechanism focused. But anyway, the if you remember nothing else from today, ladies and gentlemen, remember that technology is not enough that you have to also train the employees, and modify your workflows to take advantage of this technology, then you’re going to see the big benefits because if you buy something and no one uses it, it’s not a good thing. Liberty Mutual is one of our major insurance clients, and they’ve done a very nice job implementing what we do and other software tools to it’s not exclusive to us. They’ve done a very, very nice job in a sophisticated fashion implementing Gavelytics and other software platforms into their litigation workflows. And they’ve seen a lot of really positive results from that. And so it again, not enough to just buy something, you got to train the people and change people’s minds.
Wesley Todd [27:30]: Yeah, that’s great. I was just listening to the head of innovation major top 10 carrier in the world yesterday, and I was blown away because his comment, his first comment about technology was that, he has been, he’s done a campaign, he’s basically conducted a campaign within his organization to just make people curious about technology, because it’s 100% true, Rick. You really, you throw a tool in there and it can get you absolutely nowhere, then it happens more often than you think. And you know, we don’t like to see that happen. And we have people and you do too, that sort of will fix that situation, but it’s basically the default if you don’t get somebody in there and get on top of it. And I just thought that was really cool that head of innovation realized that that’s actually the start, as you just said, to make people curious and interested. I wanted to pivot real quickly, because I think one of the one of my superpowers is that I was once a grunt doing all the work and I think that that’s yours too. So you know, we were working so hard, and we understand and I was just, someone was just yelling at me about it again yesterday today that I would make mistakes and that too. But that’s a really unique perspective, because most of the people that are gonna come in and sell technology to lawyers or insurance companies or whoever, never spent a day drafting a brief, so you get this very unique position. What practical advice do you have for everybody, a corporation trying to influence change, a person that wants to become an entrepreneur like you and wants to create that change you know, what’s your advice about looking at this problem solving, you know, just tell me what you’ve actually been there, you have experience, you have the message, what is it that you suggest that these people do?
Rick Merrill [29:34]: Yeah, great, great question. So let’s start with the lawyers themselves, or the legal departments, or the CLM professionals. What I would do you know, if I parachuted in, I was suddenly running the legal department or the litigation department within a big carrier, that sort of thing. What I would do is grab some of my other executives and get a whiteboard or if you can’t have a whiteboard because it’s COVID, get it a zoom board or whatever, but that what I would do there is, is write down the problems the department has, too slow, cost too much money. You know, senior management thinks we’re too expensive you know, just whatever it is you know, just start writing down problems that you would like to solve you know, be more efficient, trim pay roll, you know, whatever they are, and I’d start with that. So let’s imagine you identify 10 discrete problems, instead of trying to tackle all 10, start with the low hanging fruit, go pick one, you know, move documents around faster, or what have you, you know, there are a lot of great technology platforms out there you know, CaseGlide, obviously, and you know, that help people communicate more efficiently and more seamlessly, and you’re not just attaching stuff to emails over and over, and people are losing them. And you know, you start with a discrete problem, and try to go fix that. I think that there are certain traps that can be avoided, and one of them is thinking too big. Thinking, oh, I need to go higher. I need to go higher you know, big consultancy, and they fly in a bunch of people, and they need to study our business for nine months, and it cost $2 million, and then we got to go spend $3 million on, but I think that’s wrong you know, you’re gonna get fired if you do that. Instead, start look for the easy wins, look for the low hanging fruit, and so you know, there are certain document management tools that are out there, you know, that really are not too expensive. You know, there are other analytics products you know, like Gavelytics that would not be vastly expensive and don’t require on prem solutions, and all kinds of complicated license agreements, and all these things you know, and then suddenly, now you’re armed with more knowledge. And so you know, think about those discrete problems. Also map out your workflows. You know, I’m always surprised at how certain really big companies in their legal departments are actually not super sophisticated. You know, you ask them about their workflows, they don’t even know what that is, you know, and say, Okay, well, let’s sit down. What happens when a case comes in, like what you know, and you need to start diagramming things and then think about where you know, what if we moved this spot over here? And what if we made this a little faster? And what if we gave this person the knowledge that this person later in the chain has, and you know, I think when you start thinking creatively about your internal processes, certain low hanging fruit can be discovered, and you’re just not going to get the momentum for big change unless you win the small changes. And so that’s my big advice is really start relatively small, but discrete problems, then you can go get a couple of wins under your belt, and then suddenly, people are going to listen to you and your organization, suddenly, you can point things and say, hey, look at this initiative, it resulted in us you know, closing matters 12% faster, look at that, 12%, it’s a big deal. You know, things like that would be very important. You know, with respect to motion practice and litigation, which is a big component of litigation cost. We’ve been able to determine, for example, a Gavelytics, that certain motions are utterly useless. Okay, certainly, you will never grant them. Certain motions are inversely correlated with getting out in summary judgment or you know, things like that. And it’s actually true as a matter of statistics. And if you know that, and if you can push back and your outside counsel and say, well, hold on, why do you want to take 12 depositions, or you know, why do you want to file three discovery motions, if you push back a little bit, and you don’t want to be too heavy handed and harm your litigation outcomes but if you could cut your motion practice expenses by even 1%, if you’re a major carrier, that could be a vast amount of money each year, and you could do that while still not harming your litigation outcomes. Okay, which was the brilliant thing here because you’ll know when to do it, and when not to do it based on real data. So there are so many things that you can do. And you know, my particular area, obviously, is litigation analytics, but there are other pros out there like US with CaseGlide. And you know, I’m sure you have plenty of good thoughts on this same topic you know, but my thinking is, start small with a discrete problem, and go crush that then move on to the bigger one.
Wesley Todd [34:11]: I love that. So yeah, I think you’re exactly right. I think it’s focused on, we’ll figure out what your problems are. Lay them all out there. Pick the easy ones. The ones you feel are easy, your instincts are right, you’re in the trenches, and then in the battle, map out your workflow, because you actually don’t know your problems. So you map out your workflow. And then send me an email [email protected] where you can send, Rick with your email address.
Rick Merrill [34:39]: Yeah, I’m just [email protected].
Wesley Todd [34:43]: [email protected], you and I have that’s exactly what we did to start our businesses, this is exactly what you just said that mine started off with, hey, be cool. If we had automated documents, they said well, people have to type in information. So at that point, you have a case management system and then oh wait, you have all the information so they can run reports. And the rest is history. But you know, we thought through a lot of these things, email us that we’re trying not to lose sight of the day to day. But man, the more the more boots on the ground insights we get the better I will tell you what we think about it. But that’s you know, I’m happy to help, that’s my favorite part of the job.
Rick Merrill [35:25]: Yeah, I’m the same. And you mentioned entrepreneurs, and I love talking to other folks. And you know, they’re considering starting legal tech businesses and things like that. I really enjoy it, people will send me decks and I’ll you know, all opine on them. And you know, I’m happy to do that. Here’s my sense about legal technology startups is, you know, you got to know what you’re doing. And by that, I mean, you really should come in with some specialized knowledge. If you’re not a lawyer, you know nothing about insurance or you know, whatever, then you know, maybe you know, this isn’t the right field. I do think that having some subject matter expertise is a very important thing. And if you personally don’t have it as an entrepreneur you know, go find the people that do, but I do think you have to really closely understand the problem that you’re trying to solve, you have to very closely understand the painful you know, the analysis, let’s identify, point, right, you know, or some problem in the industry. In my view, the next part of the analysis must be, well, why hasn’t it already been solved? You know, why hasn’t been company ‘X’ or little company ‘Y’ haven’t they sailed in and solve this problem? And then I think once you can answer that, and if there’s a good reason for that you know, then I think you really might be beyond to something there. And so there’s so many ways you can innovate, and then also another thing for entrepreneurs, of course, is fundraising you know, one must go raise the funds to start your business, it’s actually a little easier than ever before. Certain big law firms have incubator programs, they’ll write checks you know, for seed capital, there’s far more venture capital available for seed level investments than ever before, there are angel investor networks all over the country, it’s actually I think, easier today to raise little bits of capital than ever before. And so then once you go do that, if you can then show some success, show some traction, show that people like your product, and it’s really solving a pain point in a real way, then you can try to go get a big institutional series ‘A’ or you could, you know, approach a big family office and try to get a big cheque you know, or on the other hand, if your business is such that it can be bootstrapped, all the better, all the better. So you keep all the equity. So, you know, it’s really a fun thing to talk about. And if there’s anybody out there that would love to talk to me or Wes about it, we’re very open, very open to do so.
Wesley Todd [37:49]: Yeah, yeah. Rick, I appreciate that. I think one of the things I’ve gotten a lot of value of, and why we’ve talked in the past is because, I’ll reach out to the other people trying to solve these problems and learn more, and whether it’s in the insurance industry, or the legal industry, and we’re all you’re may be amazed at how many people will pick up their phone. So that’s really good advice. I would take it very seriously from listening to this, it so you know, basically two options intrapreneurship or entrepreneurship, then you can you know, do something within your own company, which is probably step one you know doing anything, and then there’s entrepreneurship, but you have both options. I really think we can leave it at data. I mean, he talked about the future. He talked about Gavelytics, he explained how you got to were where you’re at today, and he gave people a lot of really great advice. And it was really a pleasure getting your latest perspective. Hopefully, you can come back and give us more perspective. And I really appreciate you not just myself, but also all the people that are listening you know, for you to just so freely share your insights with everybody. You know, again, these folks, they have 100s or 1000s of cases, and they don’t get to focus on these problems like we do. But then they frankly, they know them better. So this is super valuable to them. And before I wrap it up, I just wanted to ask you, what’s the best way to reach you? Where can people go to learn more about Gavelytics? You have on LinkedIn, Twitter, where else you know where can we hear more from you, Rick?
Rick Merrill [39:28]: Yeah, thank you, Wes. First delighted to be here. Great to speak with you as always, and really enjoyed the opportunity. So for people that want to learn more about Gavelytics, you can just go to gavelytics.com. You can email me directly rick@gavelytics, can also find me on LinkedIn. I’m very active on LinkedIn. I’m Rick Merrill, easy to find and happy to speak with anybody about Gavelytics or the industry more broadly.
Wesley Todd [39:59]: Thanks for it, Rick. Let’s do it again soon.
Rick Merrill [40:01]: Alright. Thank you, Wes.