BluShark Digital 0:00
Welcome to the SEO Insider with your host, Seth Price, founder of BluShark, taking you inside the world of legal marketing and all things digital.
Seth Price 0:10
Welcome, everyone. We are thrilled to have Ray from EvenUp, co-founder and CEO. Welcome, Ray.
Ray Mieszaniec 0:17
Thank you, Seth. Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be on.
Seth Price 0:20
Yeah. I am so excited to have you here. Because it feels like you guys were like, you know, you know, you’ve paid your dues. And the moment that the rest of the world woke up to AI, you’re like, Oh, yeah! But you know, this is what you’ve been looking for the whole time. So, you know, really, congratulations on this run the last few weeks.
Ray Mieszaniec 0:41
Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, I definitely recall a time where we used to pitch AI to lawyers, and they would respond to us with like, how is AI even going to help us at all? Like, how is AI even supposed to help me do my job? That what is AI? And then now
Seth Price 0:58
They frankly, still are, I still have that reaction. I was just talking to you before we got on. It was just with the Washington Business Journal. And it was like talking to them. It, basically, the legal community as a whole – forget about the plaintiffs world that you circle around, right, which a little bit more entrepreneurial. You know, they’re, yes, the owners of organisations know that it needs to happen. Some do, some don’t. But the idea that as you go into the trenches, there’s great resistance. And the thing that my talking point has been, look, AI is really cool. And just like when I was at US law in the late 90s, trying to tell people they needed a place online and they’re like why would we ever go online? We have Yellow Pages. You know, that was literally the answer we got. We would have to fight to get somebody, to give, to give them a free directory listing or a free profile, more or less. Get them to pay? God forbid that was like, you know, that the cost of acquiring a customer was just so ingrained, crazily expensive. But what which, what strikes me in that Chat GPT has been the first manifestation for many people, not of AI going in the background. Like you love it when Google tells you how to finish your sentence, you know, putting you, moving you into BCC. You know, they know what you’re about to say before you do. But I feel like what we saw, this is the convergence of okay, cool technology. It’s going to go huge. Right now people are using it kind of sloppy, we already saw the high profile case of a lawyer using it badly. That said, it’s it is a tool, and they, just like you wouldn’t turn in your law clerks work blindly to a court, you wouldn’t use a library that is unvetted to create documents, and I’m guessing that Chat GPT could give you a demand letter, but that the better answer is to have a vetted library of information from which the AI is public.
Ray Mieszaniec 2:58
Absolutely, like, put another way, the way I kind of describe it and describe Chat GPT’s technology essentially, is like Chat GPT. You can think of Chat GPT as like your regular household dog, right? Your your regular household dog. And what you can expect of your household dog to do is like, sit, stay, come, down, like basic commands like that. But if you want your dog to perform specialised tasks, like a police dog, or a service dog, guide dog, it’s going to require specialised training. And that’s where we are the specialised, we are the specialised training for Chat GPT essentially, so we give it the context that it needs to basically understand in terms of how to read and interpret medical records and how to transform that into summer. It’s all of that kind of stuff. We give it the context so that it can actually perform these specialised tasks within, you know, the PI space and specifically, in terms of like, the demand letters that we produce. So, that’s my analogy.
Seth Price 4:02
So tell me, give us the background. I mean, like, it’s your it’s, you’ve come to the scene, but that this, you know, we spoke a number of couple years back when you were trying to figure out what was the path? Tell me about the story of the Even Up story?
Ray Mieszaniec 4:18
Yeah, so I mean, I remember speaking to you like about three years ago, I think it was late of 2020. But yeah, just in terms of how this all came together. Really kind of serendipitous in terms of how the three co founders came together. We all came from different backgrounds, different experiences. But all of those experiences really lent themselves well to helping us make this company a great success. And we all had our unique kind of reasons as to why we were fascinated in terms of what cases we’re actually settling for. So personal injury lawsuits.
Seth Price 4:53
For the top level, what were those three skill sets most curious about? What was it that came together to make this happen?
Ray Mieszaniec 4:59
Yeah, Yeah, so like in terms of, for instance, my co founder and our CEO, Rami. So Rami, his background, he, you know, he was at an early stage startup that went from zero to 50 million of annual recurring revenue. They got acquired. He became a tech investor. And then he started actually working at Google’s autonomous vehicle unit, Waymo. And so over there, he got a lot of exposure in terms of how many motor vehicle accidents were happening each year. And that kind of piqued his interest. Saam, my co founder and chief product officer, he, he was actually a former commercial litigator at a big law firm. And essentially, he did a lot of defense work. So insurance defense work for serious personal injury lawsuits. And so essentially, there’s another kind of experience there, where he was actually the first. So, he was counselled to the first litigation finance case presented to the Supreme Court of Canada. And so he was always interested in terms of knowing what a case would settle for basically, pricing the risk of these personal injury lawsuits. Myself, former consultant, and I started a previous company, so a VC backed company in Silicon Valley in the education space. My personal story that kind of ties me to the mission of what we’re doing here at Even Up is kind of, it’s actually a much sadder one. So essentially, my dad in 2004, he was involved in a catastrophic motor vehicle accident. And so that left our family, you know, basically in shambles, that we, we, essentially, it was like a crazy case where, you know, high speed police chase, where the police were actually chasing down a shooter. And this, this person actually ended up running into my dad, who was crossing the intersection just trying to go to work in the morning, and it split my dad’s car in half. And so, of course, over the next three years, as many attorneys would would kind of know how this story plays out. But the insurance carriers were just low balling the crap out of my family, and my mom was working multiple jobs just to put food on the table. And then ultimately, what happened is, my dad didn’t want to see her working so hard. So we were crumbling financially. And so what happened was, my dad took an early settlement, not really knowing what this case was worth, the representation that we had didn’t really kind of give him any advice against the decision he was making. Ultimately, we walked away with $200,000 for a family of five. And I mean, $200,000, for two immigrant parents was a lot of money for them to look at. They’re like, wow, this is more money than we ever saw at one moment in our life. But it was definitely not enough for a family of five to survive off of for the rest of our lives. And so it’s kind of, this is this is where I see that serendipitous tie in terms of like, that experience, I never looked back on this industry and was like, I’m going to be like Batman and solve this problem. But ultimately, it did make me more entrepreneurial, where it’s led me down this path in life to meet the co founders that I have today and start this business so that we can essentially prevent other families from going through the same struggle that we did or are trying to help them get a better result.
Seth Price 8:24
What was the lightbulb moment where you were, you had stuff early on, you were looking at fund, the funding component, but you guys seem to have doubled down on the on demand component here. What’s what’s, what was the lightbulb moment as far as just figuring out that leveraging, that there was a better mousetrap out there for demands?
Ray Mieszaniec 8:44
For sure, in terms of kind of how we started and as you referenced, like, we started out with funding, personal injury lawsuits, so building technology that basically helps underwrite and price the risk of these personal injury lawsuits. And essentially, we were trying to provide the most affordable kind of financing for these personal injury lawsuits, to help them essentially gun for the maximum amount that they could settle for, and the amount that those clients deserve. So extend that financial runway. And then by way of that, it was supposed to be a mechanism to gather as much data as possible in terms of understanding what cases were selling for behind closed doors, so essentially be party to those cases and be privy to that information. That said, a lot of that data that we were acquiring at that time was kind of skewed. And obviously, it was a kind of more difficult approach in terms of gathering that data. And so one of the things that we tried to learn more about is how can we offer up our technology in terms of, you know, what we were using internally to underwrite these cases? How could we offer that to law firms like like yourself, so actually, you were like the third law firm that we spoke to back in the day during like the early research on this, but we were trying to help firms like figure out, okay, can we help you compute the damages for each element of loss, like pain and suffering, loss of earnings loss services, all of this kind of stuff. And what the conversations kind of led to, many folks like yourself encouraged us to, to basically look into demand packages, like the most valuable thing that you could do, not only in terms of analyzing these damages and telling us like, you know, what, what these damages are worth, but helping us draft this entire demand package, this legal document, that would be super helpful.
Seth Price 10:39
Was a huge pain point. It’s a huge pain point for law firms.
Ray Mieszaniec 10:43
Correct. And, you know, I think a lot of law firms at the very beginning, they were like, they thought we were crazy and thought that it was kind of a joke. It’s like you should just draft you should just draft the whole demand package for us. And then they didn’t really expect us to actually do that. And then we’re like, why don’t we try. And so we started down on this path. This is way before generative AI was even a thing, right? And essentially started down this path, trying to build our own models in terms of essentially training machines to parse through the medical records, understand things like what are the injuries and the associated ICD codes and draw that information out, and essentially transform that into pros? Essentially, we were kind of on that path long before this, this ever began. And then when this generative AI stuff hit, it’s just like, Finally, this moment where it’s like, we’re on the right path and talking about this, and and then those models that
Seth Price 11:42
Is there any mixing? Is there any human element to it? Or is it you know, how are you balancing the AI approach? Because it’s, one of the reasons I ask is, you know, well, again, using this, you know, viral legal place where somebody did nothing with human elements. And obviously, you’re giving somebody a draft that they’re going to be looking at at their firm anyway, God willing. So right, they’re not, hopefully not turning this over blindly that, but but with that, the whole point is it’s close. Like, in the idea there should be a gap, should be at the point where you’re not missing. There’s no fake case law, you know. Everything you have should make sense. Is it perfect? No, but we’re, how are you mixing the the AI technology with human elements before it gets back to a law firm?
Ray Mieszaniec 12:26
For sure, so in terms of just how humans play a big role in this, so humans are in the loop, we always call this a human loop process, is very much within the quality assurance kind of stage. And so every demand that we produce with our models, of which these models have been trained by people who actually know what they’re doing. So whether that be former defense counsel, ex claim adjusters, top paralegals, essentially nurses, that helped us label the critical pieces of information within the doc, these documents, and train the AI to understand how to locate them and extract them. Every demand that we produce is reviewed by this team of folks. So essentially, we call them legal operations, or our Even Up squadron. But essentially, everything is reviewed before it goes out to the, the attorneys or the firms that we work with, because at the end of the day, our whole goal is to ensure that you know, everything that we produce is quality, right? And you’re relying on us to basically produce the highest of quality demands that I mean, essentially, in a way that you would have done it yourself if you had all the time in the world to do so. And so it is at the utmost importance for us to make sure that quality and turnaround times are basically maintained for our firms. And essentially, that’s why we actually have this huge emphasis on quality assurance and having people within the US who have actually practiced within personal injury in this space, reviewing every single thing that the model is trained on, as well as all the outputs that come out of it.
Seth Price 14:02
Well, Ray, you you were sort of ahead of the curve hitting this really nicely here. Where do you see this going? Next? I mean, this whatever he’s trying to figure out, right. So, you know, from a marketing point of view, we are reticent, particularly with Chechi Beatty, being sort of the forerunner. And that Google has no incentive to reward people for using Microsoft product. That’s me being the cynical person, but where do you so but there’s so much stuff that, you know, at every level, we’ve tasked fourth of my law firm and marketing companies sort of where can we put AI? And where can we test it? Where can we play with it? What excites you? What are the areas you think short term and long term? We’re gonna see AI in the legal space?
Ray Mieszaniec 14:43
Yeah, I guess, speaking from our own point of view, we’ve, I mean, recently launched some pretty big products or features within our system. So of course, we’re starting a lot of integrations with different practice management systems. So we actually kicked off the first kind of integrations with Litify. And essentially, there’s a lot of things in store to come there, I can’t mention all of them just because it’s like it’s up and coming. But that said, you know, this is, let me just say, it’s more than just being able to request the demand out of at the click of a button from these practice management systems. So working with a lot of the leading practice management systems there to launch additional features that basically will leverage our AI in terms of helping you essentially do things like summarizing medical records, you know, at the click of a button, or checking if there’s any missing bills, records or providers at the instance, that you actually upload the records into the system. So things like that. There’s a lot of things that are coming down the pipeline, but other things like
Seth Price 15:54
You see the the, just from the from the Chat GPT, you’ll see Chat, and you see a number of the other bots that listen to webinars and such. And the ability to organize that information is amazing. You know, I what I keep saying is, it’s cool in its raw form, you know, the home run is when you have that, when it really knows what it’s doing and where it needs to find stuff. Because, again, you know, as we’ve seen 4.0, it’s pretty darn good. The fact that you’re able to sort of say, Hey, these are the summaries we want, let’s work to make sure that these salient points are always pulled out. As you start mapping it, the results have gotten scary, scary good.
Ray Mieszaniec 16:35
And, and this is actually a good point to mention. So we we we’ve obviously actually released our own personal injury AI legal assistant. So it’s called Liddy. And so it’s very similar in terms of how you would prompt Chat GPT to do things, but Liddy is actually experienced in PI. And so you can actually have Liddy produce like, the facts narrative within your demand for you at the click of a button after just giving it a few prompts. Or you can have it summarize some key pieces of the medical records for you. But Liddy is constantly evolving, and we have a lot of exciting changes.
Seth Price 17:16
…is something that you, that only Even Up clients have access to.
Ray Mieszaniec 17:21
Currently, it’s a it’s a product that only Even Up customers have access to. And so they’re, of course, giving us a lot of feedback in terms of what they want Liddy to really be able to perform for them, kind of be like their Iron Man suit. But the really cool thing and and this is actually one thing that I feel like folks kind of misunderstand. And the reason why I wanted to paint that analogy of like how Chat GPT works, there’s a lot of these solutions, these kinds of chat bots or AI assistants that are coming out that, they all look the same, right? Like you can all, you can ask them to do things and then they will be able to produce some sort of result. But one thing that, you know, I encourage folks to do is just make sure that they’re checking in terms of like, what what solutions they’re using are actually called Chat GPT wrappers versus solutions that are more similar to ours, where it’s like, actually, Chat GPT integrated with a database of like, very kind of subject matter, specific subject matter, like expertise, like that database of knowledge that trains it to do what it needs to do in the right way. And so the Chat GPT wrappers, there’s a lot of ways that you can actually test if what you’re using is a Chat GPT wrapper. So for example, there’s some tools where you can see it’s like, was this output produced by just Chat GPT alone? And so if you feed that out
Seth Price 18:45
What what which tools do you like best for that? Because that’s one of the things that concerns me is that the commercially available ones are not nearly as good as what, again, I’m putting on my marketing hat for a second, right? So in the marketing world, like given our writers know, Google knows what is AI created content for the moment, but the consumer based ones are not as sophisticated as what Google has behind the curtain. What do you like, what are you using to try to determine it?
Ray Mieszaniec 19:14
Oh, I don’t have any off the top of my head. But what I’ll do is I’ll produce a list for you to actually link in the description.
Seth Price 19:21
It’s one of those areas that is, in the marketing world, is so needed, just like when we started we had Copyscape was like a big deal because okay, now we can tell whether or not somebody’s taking this from somebody else’s website. You know, what we want to make sure is the analogy in the marketing space is the spammy links of that 10, 15 years ago, when you could basically put crap links out, they worke. Google said don’t do it. And then eventually, it penalized the sites. I’m hearing rumblings and they’re all anecdotal, that Google really can tell what is produced this way. What concerns me, like the piece that I’m waiting to sort of see the the this narrow, is that most of the commercially available ones right now are just inconsistent. You know, you’ve, I’ve seen stuff where we’ve written it by hand and tells us it’s done by bots. It’s not, it’s not, look like anything else, it’s catching up, it’ll figure it out. But it isn’t quite, you know, ready for primetime. So I, for me, selfishly, I need to get that in place to protect myself, the last thing I ever want to do is.. somebody’s like, hey, you’re putting Chat GPT content on my site. I’m like, you know we’re, you’re only as good as the humans you have behind you. And making sure that we do everything. Obviously, we’re editing, it’s not going up as is. But Google could tell, oh, that’s 80% Chat GPT and you decided to put some lipstick on it.
Ray Mieszaniec 20:40
That’s absolutely correct. And then I guess, just in terms of the the field of, of legal, of the field of law, it’s even more important, because like, you know that, the story that you referenced at the beginning, the lawyer in New York that basically cited these, like fake cases, within.. yeah, that essentially, this is, that’s where hallucinations come from, if you’re just using Chat GPT alone and it’s not working off of a specialized database.
Seth Price 21:09
But that’s the extreme extreme, right? Let’s get rid of the extreme, let’s go to the real, you know, like, Westlaw is now putting, you know, AI, you know, processes in place, like there’s no doubt when Fastcase got sold, or acquired, or whatever, to in order, simply to be able to have a trusted library. So it’s coming, but I want to conclude with this, you know, we see the things right now. Like there’s the stuff that’s like in the foreground, right, that you’re there, okay, like, yes, we’re gonna have summaries done, we’re gonna have we’re gonna have demands done, there’s gonna be a lot of stuff. But what are the things that you don’t know how it’s gonna be done now, but you bet that with the speed that we’re going, it’s not going to be long before this or that, you know, that the AI is going to be able to get us to stuff that’s beyond that. Are we going to get to the point where clients, you know, you have chat bots that are probably better than the, you know, international labour that does the AI, that does the chatting, how long before a client experience with a law firm is there? Like, what are the pieces that you think that like, you know, it’s hard to get labour? Are you going to have an option of getting bought answers versus speaking to somebody. Where, like, what’s not tomorrow, next month, but like, what’s 2025?
Ray Mieszaniec 22:25
Oh, I absolutely believe that this is, like all of this technology, that’s spinning up today is going to be able to help us deliver better client experiences, for sure, like in the ways that we can hook it up either to say, basically communicate via text with your clients and extract critical pieces of information from them in terms of like, like, kind of like a survey format, but in a more human way, as if somebody was actually texting them these questions and trying to understand. Like how did, you know, how did this this this, this accident kind of turn your life upside down? You know, what, what are things that you can no longer do today that you used to be able to do before? It’s like having AI actually drive those questions that people are actually, you know, speaking with their clients over the phone about. That’s going to be like something that I see, in the very near future, something that AI can basically serve as that Iron Man suit for. And then that’s also going to help us basically not only deliver more of a human experience and a higher quality experience for our clients in terms of doing everything that we can to get them the requisite information that we need to basically help work up the value of their case. It’s like, it’s also going to facilitate, you know, better better word of mouth and referrals and, you know, just result in happier clients. So.
Seth Price 23:46
Well my guess is that whether it’s Even Up or somebody else, that we’re seeing the ability for, like responses to emails, even from Chat GPT, pretty strong, not that it doesn’t need to be edited. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the protocol of firms within, by the end of 2024, is to have an AI response generated as a draft from emails sent that are then approved by a case manager and that the case manager will not be drafting responses, but that there will be a proposed response that somebody will read that thing, make sure it’s right, but that you will not be, you will be editing, not drafting responses to emails before we know it.
Ray Mieszaniec 24:30
Absolutely, I actually see, I should link to an article, I believe Salesforce is actually already doing that right now. And so of course, I think that a lot of folks within marketing and sales, they are kind of like looking into that and taking advantage of technologies like that, but like it’s it’s only a matter of time where law firms can be basically leveraging the same things.
Seth Price 24:52
And look law firms are going to have to be the last to adopt, but when you look at stuff like you’re on vacation, your tour operator, you will want to be able to book things. And I remember I was in Hawaii for a mastermind earlier this year and we ended up doing a excursion with a guy. He was a great guy, took us out. He had surf lessons and paddleboarding on the north end of the lotto. But like he’s sitting there on the paddleboard, taking calls from potential people, and there’s nothing better than the phone, I get that. But if you could go and do 90% of what needs to happen with the basic information, just like we’re seeing the chat bots now, I think as that gap goes, you’ll come for the personal piece, but that that interpersonal piece, the the non-interpersonal piece, is gonna have a lot of pre form, you know, and the idea that it’s between nothing, and that it is it is not it is not far away.
Ray Mieszaniec 25:50
I absolutely agree. I, the way I describe it is just putting more of a human, like AI helping us introduce more of a human element back into our practices, not not taking away from from the human experience, if anything. That’s what a lot of people tend to believe. But I believe it’s the opposite.
Seth Price 26:07
Ray, this is exciting times. Congrats for you and your team at Even Up. I appreciate you taking the time today. I know you’re real busy, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store next.
Ray Mieszaniec 26:17
Thank you so much Seth. I really appreciate you letting me tell the story here.
Seth Price 26:21
Absolutely, catch up soon.
BluShark Digital 26:23
Thank you for tuning in to the SEO Insider with Seth Price. Be sure to check back next week for fresh insights into building your brand’s online presence. Episodes are available to stream directly on BluShark Digital’s website.