If Peter Thiel was trying to convince the world he wasn’t a lawsuit-happy nerd, this probably isn’t the best way to do it. Reports today detail Thiel’s latest investment, a $100,000 Thiel Foundation grant to a company, Legalist, that makes trial-by-algorithm a real thing.
Legalist, founded by two Harvard undergrads, combs through a mountain of local legal filings to find cases that have a high probability to succeed. The algorithm applies 58 variables that are said to be good indicators of the strength of the case against the opposing party. For cases it deems winnable, the company will invest between $50,000 to $500,000 in exchange for 50 percent of any award or settlement.
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To build the algorithm, the founders analyzed 15 million cases in 10 states, including New York, Texas and Massachusetts. Luckily, it’s not available in California, yet.
It’s essentially turning lawsuits into startups and the courtroom into a giant VC firm.
If this sounds a lot like automating the strategy Peter Thiel used to kill Gawker, it should. What the algorithm does is effectively applying artificial intelligence to turn Peter Thiel into The Incredible Hulk… of the courtroom.
Legalist won’t be available for lawsuits against private parties, but it will allow eager patent trolls or lawsuit-happy morons to comb through legal papers looking for their next big “investment.”