Andrew Weaver: What’s happened since I spoke with Toby in 2015?
Guy Kurlandski: We'd been working at it for about 18 months previously and funding the project ourselves. At that point we did a seed round to put towards developing the system further and marketing.
We didn’t realize we’d have to build the database. We assumed if we can build the machine learning application, and the AI, around what we need to get the results we want, we'll be able to lease it. To licence it from one of the big players in the market, only to find that they don't have enough data, and it's not aggregated, and it's not clean enough for our purpose. Not that it's not available to us, it's just, they don't actually have it. So that became a big task in and of itself.
Today we're sitting on the world's largest litigation dataset, under our control, effectively. And we've been doing licenced deals with other companies that we thought we might be leasing the data from!
The market is very opaque, the best we had was peer review, but they’re often bought or manipulated and are generally discredited.
When you've got so much at stake ... I can't understand how anyone can make assumptions when there is a better way.
AW: Also find within a firm who is good and bad?
GK: It's sold as a relationship business and I've got relationships with attorneys. Doesn’t mean I'm going to instruct them, at least until I run the data.
AW: Any pushback from the legal community. What's been the reaction?
GK: We said, "This is going to be powerful. We're going to have a lot of pushback” In reality it hasn't been as aggressive as we imagined I think because our data is real. It's pulled from public data. We're not manipulating it. We don't let anybody influence it. You can't buy better data. Attorneys that don't like it are very aware of that. It’s hard to argue against the truth.
AW: You are spreading around the world at quite a rate. Consistently the same response?
GK: Depends on the country. We haven't got far enough with India to see any pushback from law firms. We have a lot of support from a law firm, and actually from the ex-Chief Justice of India, Ram Jethmalani. Brazil, Colombia, likewise. Their legal industry seems to like it because they're the people inviting us in, they want to see more transparency and reform.
AW: Global law firms use Premonition as part of hiring process?
GK: We had a big take up by a recruitment element. They were looking at it when they were looking at placing higher level attorneys into big law firms.
AW: The world of insurance and risk-assessment?
GK: Our biggest market. A claims department look at total cost of the case. So whereas attorneys are looking at things from a more philosophical point of view, insurance companies look from actuarial point of view. It's driven by numbers.
AW: Potential impact on stock market movements?
GK: What is noticeable when you look on quarterly returns of companies and their annuals on the stock exchange, very rarely is there a lot of information about pending litigation. Both the plaintiff and defendant.
There are many companies with small litigation matters and lots of employment issues. All sorts of things where, because of the scale of the company and size of America, they may have 500 to 1,000 open cases with average values $500k to $1m. it can make a significant difference to numbers of the business.
They take on average 3 years to pass through at 80-200 cases per month? But it doesn't work like that. What happens is you'll get troughs. So with our data we can look at businesses with these smaller cases and start making predictions based on case durations,.who is running the case, which firm, which attorney, case type, which judge, how quickly the attorney operates. And we can look at historical outcome rates, en masse.
We might see spikes or troughs coming the next quarter, the quarter after. We've tested it and got .7 correlation, which is very high.
AW: Vision for Premonition, 3 to 5 years time?
GK: Instrumental player in how attorneys are hired, creating a transparent not opaque world. The insurance world will benefit. Businesses will benefit. We aim to scale quickly, from being used by bigger businesses and insurance companies to being a mainstream tool for selecting a lawyer, "You have a legal problem, run the data through Premonition before passing go"
AW: And Litigas.com is the first step towards that?
GK: Litigas is consumer-facing, and we have Premonition tool that's B2B facing. If you are that mom and pop store, you go to the law firm of Litigas, and they will ensure you have a top attorney for your case.