The Silicon Review
Headquartered in Menlo Park, California, Lex Machina combines data and software into a legal technology platform that places unprecedented strategic insight at the fingertips of attorneys. Lex Machina leverages the latest advances in computer science, together with in-house legal expertise, to enable law firms and companies to make data-driven decisions enabling them to win cases, land new clients, and litigate more effectively. The firm’s unique Lexpressions™ engine crawls millions of pages of documents and uses Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning to extract, clean, tag, and structure legal data.
Lex Machina was created as a public interest project at Stanford Law School to bring openness and transparency to the law. The company emerged from Stanford in 2010, backed by leading venture firms and angel investors, such as the former general counsel of Apple and Oracle and the co-founder of Yahoo.
In 2015, the company was acquired by LexisNexis and has continued to grow at an exceptional pace ever since. “But even today, we still have the mission of bringing Legal Analytics to all of the law to increase openness and transparency for the legal community,” said Karl Harris, CEO of Lex Machina.
Lex Machina created the new industry category called Legal Analytics. Legal Analytics provides lawyers with the critical strategic information they need to craft successful legal strategies and gain a winning edge in the highly competitive business and practice of law. Because the company’s customers are from law firms and corporations, clients expect their attorneys to use data-driven strategies. Today, Legal Analytics has become table stakes for lawyers to succeed in a challenging legal environment.
We interviewed Karl Harris to know more about the company’s innovations. In this interview, the CEO of Lex Machina also talked to us about the challenges associated with delivering legal solutions. Read on for the excerpts from the interview.
Q. How do your offerings help pitch, land new clients and win lawsuits?
Lawyers use Lex Machina’s data and insights to quantify their relevant experience, compare it with their competitors and assemble winning pitches to land new clients. They use it to demonstrate their subject matter expertise, familiarity with opposing parties and counsel, as well as their experience in front of a specific court or judge.
Legal Analytics reveals meaningful patterns in data about prior litigation, helping attorneys win more cases. If a lawyer wants to file a transfer motion, Legal Analytics allows him/her to see what trends emerge from all of the judges’ prior transfer orders in similar cases. Our platform provides granular data about critical milestones, such as time to trial and time to termination for courts and judges, but also for lawyers and law firms, to assess their performance. Lex Machina makes law firms’ client lists, open cases, relevant experience, and other critical information available with just a few clicks.
Q. Is your Legal Analytics a fit for both lawyers and companies?
Yes, in addition to the use cases for outside counsel, Lex Machina can show a Corporate Counsel a comprehensive overview of each law firm’s experience before a judge, including outcomes for the client in each case. Our data uncovers which other clients’ attorneys are working for to highlight conflicts of interest. In-house lawyers can also profile the litigation posture of their own company and compare it with competitors in their industry. And when a new matter arises, they can perform a litigation risk analysis based on the previous behavior of the opposing party and their law firm.
Q. What are the challenges associated to delivering legal solutions?
One of the unique challenges about the law is the underlying data — the briefs, memos, and filings that go into litigation. These are all largely unstructured, just text filed with the courts. This data is not just unstructured, but also very messy, with many entries that are misspelled, misplaced, or just flat out wrong.
We developed our unique combination of natural language processing and human expert review to read, fix, and understand this data and build it into a proprietary database that we use to run our Legal Analytics. Each new practice area, such as employment, intellectual property, or torts law, has its idiosyncrasies and unique terms and processes that we take into account when we release a new Legal Analytics module.
Q. What makes your products and services trustworthy? What makes your clients come back to you again and again?
It’s our goal to provide Legal Analytics that are the most accurate, complete, and trustworthy. With Lex Machina, our customers don’t have to worry about the information gaps or incomplete data that other analytics companies might offer, because our processes ensure that we are the most trusted source of Legal Analytics. This is the only way a legal professional can be confident in the analytics they are using.
It’s irresponsible to provide analytics that are partial or incomplete, as a number of our competitors do, because settling for second rate analytics is not good enough for you or your clients. When it comes to Legal Analytics, anything less than the best, most comprehensive data opens you and your clients up to serious risks.
Q. What does the road ahead look like for your company? Do you have any new launches coming up?
Lex Machina has completed processing and loading the majority of Federal court cases and will be launching more functionality for Federal court practices this year. But State court expansion is a top priority at Lex Machina. Our state court modules currently include 22 state courts with over 2.7 million cases. We are adding modules on a court-by-court basis, with an emphasis on strict data quality and integrity. That includes downloading millions of state court documents to ensure that practitioners have access to the most complete, comprehensive, and accurate analytics available. For example, for the Atlanta, Georgia area alone, Lex Machina has downloaded approximately 100,000 documents that serve as the content foundation for creating the highest caliber data for judges, law firms, attorneys and parties, and adding high-value case coding for cases that reach trial. We continue to roll out new state courts in our mission to bring Legal Analytics to all areas of the law.
The Leader Upfront
Karl Harris, CEO
Karl Harris is CEO of Lex Machina. He holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School, an M.S. in Computer Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin, and an A.B. in Computer Science from Dartmouth College. He is an active member of the California bar.
Before he became CEO, he served as chief technology officer and vice president of products for Lex Machina, which was then a venture-backed startup that was successfully acquired by LexisNexis. Previously Karl Harris was a fellow at XSeed Capital Management, a seed stage venture firm that became Lex Machina’s lead investor.