The justice system is supposed to be blind. However, when taking into account human behaviors, there is always some element of bias that enters into the eyes of the law. Gavelytics is a platform that aggregates information on how judges have ruled in previous cases and provides this information to lawyers to help them build more informed cases. Employing a SaaS subscription model, the legaltech startup utilizes AI and analytics to power their analysis of Superior Court judges. Founded in 2016, the LA startup was created by experienced litigators that saw the need for this data firsthand.
LA TechWatch spoke with cofounder Rick Merrill about the startup, its origin, expansion plans, and its most recent round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised $3.2 million as a second seed round. The company has raised a total of $5.7 million since 2016. 100% of our 24 original investors reinvested, with many of them increasing their investment amount. We also added a number of notable investors, including Brian Lee, David Nazarian, Bruce Karatz, Jarl Mohn, and Ken Solomon.
Tell us about Gavelytics.
We are a judicial analytics subscription software service that tells lawyers how Superior Court judges tend to rule. We give litigators a competitive advantage by enabling them to write better briefs, win more cases, and win more business.
I’m a former Big Law litigator who was always frustrated that there was no meaningful way to get empirical, useful data about the judges we litigated in front of.
How is it different?
We were founded by litigators, for litigators. No one else covers state courts like we do – not even close.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We’re targeting the state court segment of the analytics sector of the legal technology market. Our clients are law firms, big and small, as well as in-house legal departments, insurance companies and litigation finance businesses. We estimate that the total market for judicial analytics exceeds $4 billion.
What’s your business model?
We are a subscription-based software service.
What are some developments in legal tech you are keeping an eye on?
We’re particularly excited about artificial intelligence and how its application can help lawyers better serve their clients.
What was the funding process like?
LA has an excellent business community, so it was a true joy.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
As a former litigator who had never before founded or run a business, I had to convince a number of sophisticated investors that the opportunity was worth the execution risk.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Even “non-lawyers” understand the idea of wanting to know what your judge is all about. This fact made fundraising easier than it would have been if the product had been even more esoteric.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We’ll be building out the rest of California, adding even more big firms and clients, and adding never-before-seen analytics products that will keep us on top of our market segment.
What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Make sure you master your elevator pitch. If you can’t explain your business in 20 seconds to someone who isn’t familiar with your industry, you’ve got problems. You’ll need an excellent elevator pitch in order to get conversations going with investors, the most important and best of who hear lots of pitches. You need to set yourself apart immediately or they won’t call you back.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Continuing to build the brand and make our service both ubiquitous and indispensable for California litigators.
Do you prefer hiking or surfing in LA?
Surfing in the morning, hiking in the late afternoon.