Recently, I interviewed Ravel Founder and CEO Daniel Lewis, a Forbes 30 under 30 and LinkedIn 35 under 35 recipient. He is also a graduate of Stanford Law School. Ravel is using technology to innovate in the legal field, and has built a legal research and analytics engine that presents case law in new and powerful visual formats as well as provides data-driven analytics. This month, Harvard Law School announced a partnership with Ravel Law to dramatically expand their content. Here's a snippet of our interview:
Marquis Cabrera: Where did you get the idea to develop Ravel?
Daniel Lewis: Both of my parents were lawyers, and as a kid, I would spend time watching them. When I ended up in law school myself and started doing research, the tools looked similar to what I had seen years ago. They were painful. The idea behind Ravel is that by using advanced technology, analytics and visualization, we can help lawyers find key material, understand why it's important, and give them data-driven advice about how to use it most effectively. Legal practice requires fitting many pieces of information together and forming them into a compelling argument. Traditional tools are not well suited to the massive amounts of information that lawyers now need to sift through.
Marquis Cabrera: What does Ravel mean?
Daniel Lewis: Ravel means the same thing as unravel - and we liked the visual element of unraveling the law. Our mission in doing that is to develop the legal profession's most innovative tools for case research, judge analysis, and legal data visualization.
Marquis Cabrera: Can you give me a broad/general timeline of your work to date?
Daniel Lewis: In the summer of 2012 we raised $1.1 million and operated as a small team for about 16 month until December 2014. Then, we raised another round of funding, an additional $8.1 million, and we've expanded our team. Our customer base is now expanding really rapidly.
Marquis Cabrera: What has been the feedback?
Daniel Lewis: We're growing very quickly. Tens of thousands of attorneys and law students around the country are using Ravel for their legal research because they are finding it faster, more intuitive, and more confidence-inspiring.
Marquis Cabrera: Is your market lawyers or law students? Can you see Universities purchasing this tool, too?
Daniel Lewis: We provide our most advanced analytical tools and interfaces via paid subscriptions to firms and practitioners. We offer law students and professors an advanced version of Ravel for free, and provide additional tools for a fee to schools.
Marquis Cabrera: Congrats on your new partnership with Harvard Law School!! What led to this partnership development? How will your new partnership with Harvard Law School expand and grow your work (and allow you to create the impact you want to see in the legal field)?
Daniel Lewis: Our collaboration with Harvard provides Ravel with a comprehensive, exclusive collection, which levels the playing field with Westlaw and LexisNexis for case law. By working with Harvard, we have their expert team of librarians who have put together this collection and really stand behind it. What this project offers to our big, small and medium-firm customers is, no longer do they need to think about the world where they're paying for cases. Now they get to think of the world where they're paying for the analytics and interfaces that help them make sense of this information and use it more effectively.
Marquis Cabrera: What are your future hopes and dreams for Ravel, or a pain point you could use some help solving?
Daniel Lewis: My hope is that new technology and evolving law firm business structures will make the practice of law more enjoyable and satisfying for lawyers -- allowing lawyers to focus on the work they love rather than some of the mundane things that suck joy out of many practices today.
Marquis Cabrera: What's your most pressing goal right?
Daniel Lewis: We work really hard to hire exceptional people - so that we can build an extraordinary product and provide amazing service for our customers and users. People who join are team are excited about the technical challenges, the business goals, and the vision of where we can take the legal industry.
Marquis Cabrera: When I worked at the Massachusetts Appeals Courts, they rolled out Forecourt Paragon-- a judicial case management tool. Forecourt is a significant tool because previously case management was handled only manually. It seems like more and more people are trying to figure out ways to use tech to shake up the legal field. What advice would you give to a law student looking to use business and tech to shake up the legal field?
Daniel Lewis: 1. Get outside of the pure law school experience. Take comp sci, business, and design classes. Broaden your opportunities and look to make connections across fields. Take advantage of the resources at your school.
2. Also, spend a ton of time engaging with people who are dealing with the issue you're interested in and listen to what they think. You'll be able to validate whether your idea is worth pursuing and, if so, how to best go about it.