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We want to bring a consumer sensibility to the use of technical legal products.

AJ Shankar

Everlaw is a legal technology company serving 8 of the top 10 class action law firms and over 65% of state attorneys general. The company is building the world’s most advanced litigation platform, beginning with ediscovery, by making the most cutting-edge technology accessible with elegant and intuitive design. Its ease-of-use, blink speed, frequent user-driven updates, and predictable pricing set it apart in the ediscovery industry.

BusinessInterviews.com: Can you expand on how Everlaw is changing the way litigation works by combining serious computer science with a cutting-edge user experience?

AJ: We want to bring a consumer sensibility to the use of technical legal products. Attorneys shouldn’t have to hate the software they use. There’s no technical reason that a litigation tool can’t be as fast as Google and as easy-to-use as an iPad. We strive for that goal every day. It turns out that, unsurprisingly, achieving it requires marrying the deep technical know-how of a Google with the design sense and discipline of an Apple. We think that’s a recipe for success in an enterprise space that has often suffered from a slow, complex, and frustrating user experience.

BusinessInterviews.com: How do you decide what software features to work on next?

AJ: We always try to achieve three goals with every release: (1) create features requested by legal users; (2) improve our technical infrastructure; and (3) release something completely new that doesn’t exist in the market. To get ideas for #1, we’re constantly talking to our customers and soliciting their feedback about what we can do better. Sometimes this takes the form of an explicit user feedback interview and sometimes it’s part of a casual conversation. For #2, our developers lead the way. For #3, we look at how our customers get work done, and find ways to address their greater needs, even if they don’t articulate those needs to us explicitly.

BusinessInterviews.com: How do you feel that playing high-level ultimate frisbee on a competitive level provides transferrable skills that are advantageous within a business setting?

AJ: It instilled in me two lessons. First, there is a lot of strength in a great team and great teamwork. We invest in our entire team, empowering our people to develop their skills and collaborate with each other freely. Second, success requires hard work. In athletics, behind every all-star is a huge amount of practice, effort, and discipline. We feel the same way about working at a startup. There are no shortcuts to making a great company.

BusinessInterviews.com: Why do you think that smaller firms and solo practitioners could really benefit from using an ediscovery tool like Everlaw?

AJ: Big enterprise legal software can be cumbersome, slow, and frustrating to learn. They may require long-term contracts and big monetary commitments. It’s hard for small firms to make those kinds of investments up front. We’ve designed our ediscovery tool to be fast, accessible and friendly. We let firms sign up month-to-month, with no long-term contracts or setup fees. Small firms that now do discovery laboriously by hand can save an enormous amount of precious time and money by using Everlaw, with very little risk.

BusinessInterviews.com: What lessons did you learn while working together to pull off a massive site-wide redesign? In hindsight, is there anything that you would have done differently?

AJ: It takes a village! Everyone at the company contributed ideas to the development of our visual display and user experience; our end product was dramatically better as a result. The redesign started with the business team’s compilation of user requests, then consumed our talented design lead, absorbed our entire engineering team during implementation, and finally took over our ops and business team as we progressed to testing and refinements. I’m not sure what we would have done differently; the release was much smoother than I had feared, and users jumped right into the new experience. It’s been three months, and the feedback from legal teams continues to be very positive.

BusinessInterviews.com: Can you share why the Everlaw team loves open-source software? What advice would you give to someone interested in exploring open-source software for their first time?

AJ: A fundamental tenet of good engineering is: don’t reinvent the wheel. We want our customers to have access to the latest software developments on the market, even if they don’t come in the legal space. Open-source software has several advantages: it allows us to explore and use a technology at low cost and overhead; it enables us to get the most out of this technology by making improvements or bug fixes; and it allows us to collaborate with and learn from others in the community. My advice: jump right in! You’ll be surprised by the quality of the code and documentation, and you’ll be up and running before you’d even have time to sign a contract to buy a closed-source piece of software.

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