From litigator to innovator – alumnus launches tech start-up

By Rachel Hewitt

Equipping lawyers and their clients with key information is at the heart of MLS alumnus Kelvin Tran’s new technology start-up Litimetrics.

Kelvin Tran had his sights firmly set on the University of Melbourne from a young age.

“I am the child of refugees of the Vietnam War, who went to a state school in the northern suburbs,” he says. “There really wasn’t a question of where I’d go once I got the grades.

“I was a bit argumentative as a teen, so law seemed to be a good fit. I also liked the idea of working with clients from different industries and operating under different business models.”

Little did Tran (LLB, BA 2007) know that his eventual career as a litigator – combined with the rekindling of a teenage interest in coding – would lead him to launch a legal tech start-up in California.

Teaming up with his twin brother Allen, who studied economics and information systems at the University of Melbourne, Tran co-founded online analytics platform Litimetrics in 2016.

The service is designed to help lawyers and their clients “litigate smarter” and boost their chances of a favourable – or at the least, cheaper – outcome by giving them a key advantage – information. This comes in the form of insights on attorneys, judges and opposing parties, their court outcomes and behavioural patterns, which Litimetrics extracts by mining millions of court records using custom-built technology.

“We tell users, for example, when their opponent tends to settle, the expected impact that a particular attorney will have on litigation, and the expected effect of a particular step in litigation (for example, filing a motion for summary judgment) on the duration of a proceeding,” Tran says.

“More simply, users can look up an attorney and view their experience and their record of performance.”

Tran previously worked at Minter Ellison and Arnold Bloch Leibler, and as an associate to the Court of Appeal’s Honourable Justice Marcia Neave AO. He says he recognised a need for greater transparency in the legal market, enabling clients and solicitors to make better-informed decisions when engaging counsel.

I thought it was ridiculous that clients and even solicitors would brief barristers by a mix of gut feeling, Google search results, prestige and potentially unreliable suggestions, so decided to build a solution.

The Tran brothers, who raised funds from investors in New York and Asia to launch Litimetrics, recently graduated from the Techstars start-up accelerator program in New York.

Litimetrics currently covers state trial and appellate courts in New York and California. It will soon expand to Australia and the United Kingdom, where users will be able to track the performance and cost of barristers and solicitors, and use data to better resource litigation.

Tran says “the biggest thing” MLS graduates interested in technology can do is learn to code.

“There are similarities between being a lawyer and coding – attention to detail, worrying about typos – and it’s not as hard as that wall of neon-coloured text against a black background makes it look.”

Banner image: Kelvin Tran co-founded Litimetrics.

Credit: Kendall Galante.

This article originally appeared in MLS News, Issue 18, November 2017