Chicago-based eDiscovery efficiency startup, Esquify, has won the Chicago LegalTech Venture Competition, the US leg of the Global Venture programme organised by Spain’s IE Law School. It now qualifies for the final round, which if it wins would see it join a custom built incubator in Madrid to help further develop the product for the legal market.
Esquify is focused on making human document review teams more efficient. It uses ‘proprietary machine learning technology with real-time analytics to improve the management of review teams and lower the cost of document review projects by 25% to 40%’. It is also a member of the Relativity App Hub and of Relativity Ventures’ inaugural investment group, two projects run by the well-known eDiscovery platform to develop associated legal tech applications that can integrate with its ecosystem.
This is an interesting area to focus on, i.e. the humans rather than the document review tech, and underlines that humans are still very much needed for document review, at least when it comes to large scale projects as one sees in eDiscovery. And being realistic, even as NLP and machine learning tech improves in the years ahead and the level of human oversight and manual review greatly reduces, probably killing off many ‘body shop’ approaches in the future, there will still likely be the need for some human reviewers in large scale review tasks. Esquify therefore is relevant as it helps to reduce the inefficiency still latent in the human, or ‘manual’, side of the review task, even if in the future manual review teams will likely be a lot smaller than they are today.
One might say that the best approach is to seek to reduce inefficiency on the manual side, and also use the best NLP and machine learning systems to reduce inefficiency in the core data analysis and extraction parts of the review process. Or, to put it another way, if you have an NLP system that is amazingly fast at crunching unstructured data, but the human review stage is still cumbersome and slow, then you’re losing a lot of the potential benefits legal AI systems are bringing to the matter.
Esquify competed against five other finalists in the US: Bite Size Legal, Determinator, Doxly, HAKA, and Paladin. While some of these may be new to readers, Doxly, for example, is a transaction management platform backed by Dentons’ Nextlaw Ventures and is quite well known, at least in America.
Esquify’s team will now fly out to Madrid, Spain in late July to pitch at the Global Venture Conference in front of a variety of investors, government officials and business pioneers in the hope of being selected for the law school-run incubator.
There now remains one last leg of the global qualifying round, in México on June 20, in collaboration with ITAM, the Mexican higher education institute. The first Legaltech Venture Day has already taken place in Singapore, where the Malaysian startup EasyLaw, committed to making law efficient, affordable and simple, was crowned the winner.
The competition in the US was organised by IE and Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, in collaboration with the Law Schools Global League and legal network, Ontier.
This global programme has been designed to ‘identify and support start-ups that have the ability to have a positive impact on major challenges faced by legal operators, whether private or public, as well as legal systems, so as to improve their operations thereby furthering the cause of justice’, said IE Law School.
Drew Stern, CEO and Co-Founder of Esquify, said: ‘At Esquify, we’re using 21st century technology and AI to drive review team management and client success in an ever data-driven eDiscovery landscape. We’re honored to have our innovative solution recognized as the winner of IE Venture Day at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law out of several impressive LegalTech companies.’
‘We look forward to showcasing Esquify at the Global Venture Day later this summer in Madrid and further share how our platform is being used by our customers to eliminate team management pain-points while enhancing reviewer performance. As a proud Relativity ecosystem partner, we will continue to integrate our cutting-edge technology with their leading platform and bring our combined tools to more global clients,’ he added.
Drew Deitch, Senior Manager of Strategic Partnerships at Relativity, said: ‘Esquify has been a great partner to Relativity and an innovator in the legal tech and machine learning space. It’s awesome to see their work being recognized by the IE Venture Day with Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law.’
If you would like to see a short video about Esquify, please see below.