Legal Document Reviews: Reinvented

By: Sally Hodge  http://www.builtinchicago.org/node/121264

In an era of exploding information, escalating legal costs and clients that are increasingly pushing back at their legal firms’ fees, a just-launched, cloud-based solution promises to deliver new effectiveness, efficiencies and substantial cost savings in the eDiscovery space.

The solution is Esquify, a virtual document review platform that combines machine learning and advanced communication technologies to improve upon the age-old process for litigation document review. The traditional approach is to sit five to 50-plus qualified people (like barred lawyers and paralegals) in a law firm’s or review agency’s conference room to scour millions of documents in search of “smoking guns” of use in legal cases.

Esquify instead uses technology to enable its own virtual community of barred and vetted U.S. attorneys to review documents and be supervised and monitored remotely, in real time, boosting efficiency of the process by 25 percent or more from technology alone. Similar to Uber’s approach, clients can choose reviewers based on their ratings from past assignments, their profiles and resumes. The reviewers already are becoming a vibrant community of contractors.

It’s priced by reviewer and case manager hour with a modest set-up fee. Between reduced overhead and the elimination of ancillary fees commonly charged by review agencies, Esquify’s fees are at least 10 percent to over 30 percent below industry standards.  

Eighteen months in development, Esquify is designed to augment, at the back end, the eDiscovery platform at the final document review and discovery stages. It works “on top” of (and is compatible with) all eDiscovery platforms. As a reviewer layer, it never holds client documents, which stay within the document discovery platform, maintaining its security settings.

Esquify was developed by founders and co-chief executives Scott Y. Stuart, Esq. and Drew Stern. Stuart is a litigator formerly with the U.S. Department of Justice who also has worked in restructuring and business development for law firms and corporations. Stern is a technology executive who has held leadership, strategy and product development roles for such businesses as Salesforce, Buddy Media and American Express.

“This is a process that is sloppy and inefficient in its traditional form,” said Stuart. “Now, though, we can monitor reviewers’ work and accuracy with tech tools and human oversight, in real time to assure review success.

“And its automation features ensure efficiencies. The clock stops, for example, when the reviewer goes off-task, detecting when a personal email, Facebook or extended break is taken.”

Esquify also gives clients unprecedented transparency over the review process, added Stern. “Unlike the traditional model, our groundbreaking technology enables us to provide real time case analytics so clients can monitor up-to-the-minute progress and access projections on when the review will be completed and at the anticipated cost,” he said.

Stuart and Stern are aiming for the largest segment of the fast-growing eDiscovery marketplace with Esquify. In 2014, based on date presented by Complesdiscover.com, the spend for the overall category reached $6.26 billion, with expectations it will nearly double by 2017.  With 73% of the discovery services market comprised by review, the segment is pegged to jump to $5.66 billion from 2014’s $3.29 billion.

“This is a segment that is ripe for the kind of disruption that technology-led innovation can create, and we’re in the best position to see it through,” said Stuart. “As clients increasingly scrutinize their law firms’ the legal fees and push for change, Esquify will be seen as the logical option in eDiscovery to help respond to that push.”