by Y Combinator7/19/2016
Legalist is building a database that lets lawyers search and analyze state court records.
While anyone can access federal court cases online using Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER), there hasn’t been a centralized way to access state trial court records until now.
Currently, state court records are spread across different counties within each state, each with its own website. As a result, attorneys, and paralegals waste hours searching through dated court websites to track down litigation history, and huge amounts of litigation data go untapped
“In Ohio, there are 88 county websites that each store different court records,” says Eva Shang, co-founder of Legalist. “In Texas, there are over 250. The average lawyer manages more than 80 cases while others manage thousands, which makes it extremely time consuming to manually find updates for these cases.”
Attorneys that sign up for Legalist can search through cases across different states and track current cases through daily email updates. By aggregating state trial court records, Legalist runs powerful analytics that can predict the outcome and duration of a case given the court jurisdiction and the judge assigned to the case.
Current legal analytics systems don’t provide analysis on the state court level, which is where 99% of litigation occurs. That’s 94 million cases annually compared to 1 million federal cases.
Legalist is currently available to attorneys in Massachusetts, Maryland, and Ohio but will continue to expand to other states. Its long-term vision is to aggregate the biggest litigation database of state court records and provide analytical tools that’ll help attorneys make more strategic decision.
“We’re always excited to see tech applied in a way that makes important yet super-fragmented information more accessible and transparent,” says Adora Cheung, Partner at Y Combinator. “Legalist is on its way to becoming the Lexis Nexis for state records, which will be immensely helpful for lawyers and the general public as well.”
Eva Shang and Christian Haigh are the two behind Legalist. Eva is a former criminal investigator at the Public Defender Service in DC, where she spent a lot of time collecting court records. She is currently a Thiel Fellow. Christian previously worked at a consulting analytics firm Applied Predictive Technologies, and was part of a team that uncovered price discrimination at the Princeton Review.
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