A product launched this week claims to be the fastest search and review platform in legal for matters involving large document collections — discovery, investigations and compliance — and the first to seamlessly combine keyword and algorithmic search.

The chief data scientist who helped develop it said it is “an order of magnitude faster than anything on the market.”

The product is Merlin Integrated Search (IS), from the company Merlin Search Technologies, which describes it as the first Search 2.0 platform.

“Drawing from the latest cutting edge search and machine-learning technology, the platform is purpose-built to make search smarter, review faster and discovery more affordable,” the company said in an announcement.

While these claims might seem audacious, they come from a team with a proven track record. Company founder and CEO John Tredennick formerly founded the e-discovery company Catalyst, one of the first cloud-based discovery platforms and one of the first to develop advanced technology-assisted review. Catalyst was acquired by OpenText for $75 million in 2019.

Merlin’s chief data scientist, William Webber, is a highly regarded data scientist who earned his doctoral degree in information retrieval and who did his postdoctoral research at the University of Maryland in development of search technology for discovery of evidence in civil litigation.

Several others who work for Merlin also previously worked for Catalyst.

[Disclosure: I was a paid consultant to Catalyst from 2010 to 2017.]

Merlin calls the technology that underlies its search Sherlock, “the first AI-powered digital document bloodhound for investigations and discovery,” and says that it can analyze documents a reviewer has seen in a millisecond, and then build a machine-learning model and apply it to the rest of the document population to return highly relevant documents.

“Sherlock will revolutionize document search the way Pandora revolutionized how we find great music,” Tredennick said. “Users simply click ‘Thumbs Up’ or ‘Thumbs Down’ and Sherlock does the rest, quickly surfacing additional relevant documents.”

“We built Sherlock to be fast and scalable – an order of magnitude faster than anything on the market,” said Webber. “Sherlock can analyze selected documents, build a machine-learning model, apply it to a million documents, and bring back more relevant documents in 100 milliseconds. That is faster than the blink of an eye. Sherlock can do 10 million documents in a second.”

If you want to see this for your yourself and will be at ABA TECHSHOW next week, Merlin is one of the 15 companies that will be presenting as part of the opening night Startup Alley pitch competition. 

Merlin IS is a full search-and-review platform for large-scale, document-intensive matters and includes features such as file processing and auto upload; document review, tagging and foldering; and productions and document exports.

The company is offering what it calls Cloud Utility Pricing, which is says makes discovery more affordable and fits a range of needs and budgets by allowing customers to pay for only what they need. It includes fixed-fee pricing, on-demand scalability, and licensing by as little as a week.

Merlin says that the beta version of the product has already been in use in several regulatory matters. In a quote provided by Merlin, Dara Tarkowski, partner and founder of Actuate Law, said, “Using Sherlock in a high stakes regulatory matter, we learned more about our documents in a few days than in months with another vendor.”

Merlin’s website provides a detailed walk-through of a search using its platform and also several videos, all using a demo site of just under 2 million documents.

So is it the fastest document search in legal? The company says it is happy to schedule demos, so if you are involved in large-scale discovery, regulatory or compliance matters, the best way to answer that question is to check it out for yourself.

Related: LawNext Podcast – John Tredennick On His New Company Merlin and the Magic of Open Source.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.