How one startup wants to solve an ‘insane’ problem for a $400 billion industry
Back in 2001, Andy Wilson and Sheng Yang were working at a Washington, DC, print shop frequented by lawyers, banks, and real estate firms.
Their speciality was in helping lawyers with what legal types call “discovery,” or the process of sifting through e-mails and documents to find things relevant to the case at hand.
At that point, discovery was done by literally printing out every possible relevant e-mail for attorneys to sift through.
That print shop got tapped to print the emails for the landmark 2001 Microsoft antitrust case.
Wilson recalls printing out piles and piles of Bill Gates’ and Steve Ballmer’s emails, boxing them up, putting them on trucks, and delivering them to the courthouse, where as many as 300 attorneys would be searching them for anything relevant to the case.
“This is ridiculous,” Wilson recalls saying to Yang not long after. “Let’s start a company.”
The result was Logikcull, which is trying to make electronic discovery (eDiscovery) cheaper and available to smaller firms.
It looks like a smart move. Law is a $400 billion industry in the US alone, according to some estimates.
Right now, eDiscovery can account for as much as 70% of the cost of any legal action or lawsuit – for a lawsuit that costs a litigant $2.5 million, as much as $1.75 million of that can go toward discovery. Law firms often spend as much as $100,000 a month on eDiscovery, and one analyst in 2012 found the average cost was about $18,000 per gigabyte.
“eDiscovery sucks,” says Wilson. “It’s an insanely inefficient process that would drive any normal human insane.”
The way you pay for eDiscovery software from legacy vendors like HP Autonomy and Symantec involves a lot of nickel-and-diming, according to Wilson.
First, you pay for the eDiscovery software itself. Then, you pay for having your data processed. Then, you pay to keep your files in the system until the case is resolved – which can take a while, since some lawsuits can take years.
Even once those documents are in the eDiscovery software, it usually goes into “really s