In 2020, Jay Madheswaran, Matt Noe and David Zeng, all veterans of the tech industry, had a vision to harness the power of large language models (à la OpenAI’s ChatGPT) to shake up the legal profession. Their goal was to create a platform that’d enable lawyers to be more productive by abstracting away processes around legal discovery and research.
“Legal professionals dedicate hours of their day manually sifting through documents to extract relevant insights,” Madheswaran told TechCrunch in an email interview. “This work is not only becoming unmanageable; it’s costing law firms a significant amount of money.”
To Madheswaran’s point, one survey — albeit a quite dated one, from 2012 — found that “information workers” in the legal profession, including lawyers and paralegals, spend more than 11 hours a week dealing with challenges related to document creation and management, at least six hours of which is wasted time. All told, time wasted in document creation and management activities cost firms $9,071 per lawyer a year, amounting to nearly $1 million for a firm with 100 lawyers, the study found.
So Madheswaran — who previously was an early-stage investor in Lightspeed Venture Partners and, before that, the head of engineering at Rubrik, where het met Noe (then the lead for Rubrik’s machine learning products) and Zeng (a Rubrik engineer) — founded Eve, an AI-powered platform designed to handle legal tasks like document review, case analysis, client intake and research.
Eve today emerged from stealth with $14 million from Lightspeed Ventures — Madheswaran’s old firm — and Menlo Ventures.
“Eve can be fine-tuned to meet the evolving demands and variety of case work at any given firm,” Madheswaran said. “Our platform comes pre-trained with skills and knowledge specific to the legal profession, which means law professionals can derive value right out of the box — without any engineering work required.”
Eve comes with a set of apps aimed at automating what Madheswaran describes as “low-value” use cases for litigation, transactional law and specific practice areas. Customers can fine-tune and customize the apps for specific practice areas and applications, Madheswaran says, and embed Eve in their firm’s day-to-day tasks and workflows.
Lest a lawyer or paralegal be concerned that Eve starts to “hallucinate” — the tendency generative AI models have to make things up — Madheswaran emphasizes that the platform is “built to encourage full citations” and direct quotes, and always prompt users to validate the results of its work.
“Eve can scale and evolve alongside a law practice,” Madheswaran said. “There’s no configuration or extensive onboarding needed.”
Now, Eve is but one of many “AI assistant” products emerging in the legal market. To name a few of its rivals, there’s Harvey, which uses AI to answer legal questions; Zero Systems, with seeks to bring automation to professional services including law firms; and generative AI platform Casetex, which Thomson Reuters acquired in August for $650 million.
But Eve’s competitors face the same challenges: convincing firms to embrace the tech. According to a recent poll by the Association of Corporate Counsel and the Wisconsin-based law firm Lowenstein Sandler, only 64% of in-house counsel have used AI for legal tasks. Those who haven’t adopted it cited legal risks and ethical concerns as the top blockers.
Eve’s had some success so far, however, with a customer base that numbers “over a dozen” firms with “several hundred lawyers” under their employ. The 15-person startup plans to use the proceeds from its latest funding round to “double down” on product development and go-to-market functions, according to Madheswaran.