Jean-Rémi de Maistre

Jean-Rémi de Maistre

Today, we are talking to the international lawyer, Jean-Rémi de Maistre, CEO and co-founder of the Paris-based startup Jus Mundi. Jus Mundi is a global search engine for legal information and people founded in 2019, by a team of five engineers and one lawyer. Fast forward two years and Jus Mundi expanded its services and is offering legal research, arbitration research and offers monitoring and alerts. Jus Mundi’s area of expertise spans from investment arbitration to commercial arbitration to international trade law and it keeps growing.

Dear Jean-Rémi, thanks for joining me today. I am very excited to talk to you about Jus Mundi, a legal tech company specialized in international arbitration. Could you please describe the general idea behind Jus Mundi? What is Jus Mundi?

Jus Mundi supports the development of the rule of law by providing free access to global legal information, and especially to arbitral awards and national jurisprudence from all over the world. It becomes possible thanks to the use of the latest technologies, legal expertise, and artificial intelligence.

All sizes of law firms, corporates and governments worldwide use our advanced tools to find the relevant legal information or practitioner globally. We are the first search engine offering users both investment arbitration and commercial arbitration data on one platform. And this is not it! We also have other international legal resources, such as PIL, Trade Law, UNCLOS, IUSCT, Mixed Claims Commission (in the future international Labor, Environmental, Sports, Human Rights & IP law) in one simple search.

What distinguishes Jus Mundi from other research resources for international arbitration? 

We believe that building the Rule of Law is everybody’s responsibility.

So firstly, Jus Mundi has always kept open data access. Anyone can access all data on our platform without even creating an account. Only access to Jus Mundi’s premium tools like arbitration filters, analytics requires a subscription.

Secondly, Jus Mundi gives unique and easy access to legal resources. Unlike national law, international law doesn’t have a central body responsible for collecting and disseminating legal information in a unified way. There is no single point of access to all the decisions concluded by international courts & tribunals. I’ll mention a few distinguishing points below.

Could you give us a few more details on the various tools you offer?

A multilingual search engine. So, the user can type a query in English or French but see relevant results in Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Mandarin, Hebrew, and more.

Unique filters, like the economic sector, experts, tools like Conflict Checker (to do conflict checks) are exclusively on Jus Mundi.

Social directory, which now includes lawyers, arbitrators, States, law firms (soon experts) with their specializations and backgrounds.

Wiki Notes allow users to quickly pinpoint the key issues for a concept and access the most relevant and up-to-date case law through interactive footnotes. We have more Wiki Notes than ISLG which address the latest topics such as force majeure, investment arbitration and Pandemic.

How do you get all the data that makes Jus Mundi so unique? 

All documents in Jus Mundi’s database are collected from public sources, partnerships, and collaborative initiatives. Our team tracks all new documents coming from these sources and adds them to the Jus Mundi database every week.

Extracting the metadata from all documents enables us to provide filters in our search engine and statistics for our analytics tool. This information is systematically verified and corrected, to ensure the maximum accuracy of your research.

We also receive data through partnerships with institutions such as the ICC, and through collaborative agreements with bodies such as the IBA Arbitration Committee. These institutions transmit their data in PDF, and Jus Mundi makes the documents accessible in HTML, reprocessed, structured and indexed.

How can you make sure that the data is correct? 

Jus Mundi is led by experienced international lawyers. For the Wiki Notes, editorial responsibility is ensured by Marie-Hélène Ludwig, our head of legal content, a former lawyer from international arbitration at Dentons, the world’s largest law firm. Sneha Ashtikar, whom you know, was also a former lawyer.

¼ of our team is composed of former lawyers validating the legal reasoning of the tribunal identified automatically to ensure the accuracy of our data. They qualify each paragraph of legal documents with legal concepts to enhance the relevance of search results.

We believe that human expertise is the basis of any artificial intelligence. We teach our search engine international law concepts in collaboration with international lawyers. No document is tampered with in any way, making the displayed results of the search engine or our analytics tool as unbiased as possible.

We believe that human expertise is the basis of any artificial intelligence

What exactly is the AI-powered technology used by Jus Mundi? 

Jus Mundi is a combination of human and artificial intelligence dedicated to International law and arbitration. We always use artificial intelligence with humans in the loop to collect and structure global legal data.

And how do you use AI exactly? Is there a process behind it?

We use AI to (1) collect, (2) process, & (3) enrich the legal data.

Step 1: We collect legal data such as international arbitration awards or treaties between States, or municipal judgments relating to arbitration. The main complexity is to make sure that every document entering into our database is fully reliable.

Step 2: The legal data often comes in a poor-quality scanned pdf copy, not suitable format to use AI on it. So, Jus Mundi processes it by structuring this legal data meaning converting these pdfs into an HTML format (the text that you see on Jus Mundi).

Step 3: Now, the data is ready to be enriched & have a full-text search. Each paragraph of each document is structured. Features such as the interactive table of contents and the preview of relevant paragraphs are made possible through document structuration.

What else can you do with AI?

Jus Mundi uses AI & machine learning algorithms to identify key information from the documents, for instance, we:

  • Extract metadata (e.g. applicable law, economic sector, names of arbitrators, counsel, experts.
  • Identify the legal concepts in the document beyond the text of the legal document. e.g. a paragraph might not talk directly about “dual nationality”, but AI identifies it as relevant to the “dual nationality” concept through a machine learning process.
  • Understand the legal reasoning of the tribunal.
  • Create cross-references citations of jurisprudence with other documents on Jus Mundi.

You were a lawyer in pre-Jus Mundi times. Prior to the existence of such search engines, how did you find and analyze all the relevant data and information?

I practiced PIL with Professor Alain Pellet. We were representing sovereign States before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, or before arbitral tribunals. I always enjoyed doing legal research. You feel like a detective searching for the key information that might help you win a case. It’s so rewarding when you find THE argument. My only tools were books, in paper or digital, and google advanced search to try to find some information online.

It was an extremely time-consuming effort taking most of your working time and I was limited by my working languages to find relevant information. As a result, our research was never comprehensive while the cost for our clients was high.

This frustration nourished the vision of Jus Mundi. As lawyers, we need to be 100% sure of the legal answer we give to our clients. We can’t accept being limited by technology while the information is out there.

Jus Mundi offers legal research, arbitrator research, monitoring etc. Which of the tools did you miss the most when working as a lawyer?

The hardest and most time-consuming I would say was monitoring. As a high-level professional you have to be constantly updated on how the cases process and monitor all published awards which are relevant.

How important is artificial intelligence nowadays to increase the chances of winning a case?

Being a lawyer, the knowledge is what cannot be replaced. However, with the volume of international legal information exponentially increasing, AI-powered tools provide legal teams with the only solution to deliver comprehensive international legal research and due diligence.

AI represents a tremendous opportunity to ensure exhaustive analysis of a case, an opportunity of building solid arguments fast, helps to lower the costs and manage big data use. When you consider what is at stake in international arbitration, we have the responsibility to do everything we can to win our cases.

When did you first think that founding Jus Mundi would be such a success?

I got the idea when I was a student and discovered international law. It struck me immediately. How can we live in such a globalized world, with such a national legal system and no access to the legal information necessary to build the global rule of law?

So in a way, I always knew that Jus Mundi would be useful for the community. This belief, which my co-founders and I share, has allowed us to move forward without asking too many questions about our short-term future.

What has surprised us the most is to see the exceptional talents that have joined us along the way. This gives us confidence in the future.

We can’t accept being limited by technology while the information is out there.

You teamed up with five engineers and were the only lawyer. Does this mean that Jus Mundi is more of a tech than a legal company?

The technologies are made to back up and ease lawyer’s life. The company has a legal vision and legal mission, where the technologies are rather the solid base to make it possible.

How many people work at Jus Mundi and how many of them have a legal or technical background?

For the moment we are 45+ people in the team, but we plan to be 90 by the mid-2022. There are about 25 people with a tech background, and 10+ with a legal background.

How important is being tech-savvy when it comes to founding a legal tech company? Did you also work on the technical questions or what was your role when founding Jus Mundi?

You still have to understand tech world and issues that come with it to be able to come up with tech products. So being familiar with the basics helps to succeed.

I was more coming not from the developer perspective, but from the client’s perspective, from a consumer perspective. Which helped to create the useful and relevant product, which covers users’ pains and needs. I was involved in every aspect of the process. I brought all my expertise while respecting the tremendous technical knowledge of other cofounders. Each one has brought its ideas to the table which further helped to successfully build Jus Mundi.

But what is important is to surround yourself with the right people. You have to spend time with tech and developers explaining exactly what you need and what you miss and to make sure you understand each other.

Does Jus Mundi work for different languages and how important is internationality in general?

We are working for every language. It is one of our main features. You search in any language – our search engine gives you all relevant results present in all different languages.

Internationality is crucially essential. The legal systems are spread through thousands of languages in the world. And if you limit yourself to only your native or English language, you lose all the rest of the world, full of useful information and possibilities.

Plus, one should not pursue that legal experts are all English and language experts, so the research often limits to just one country’s practice.

Do you have any recent updates/news on what to expect from Jus Mundi for the last quarter of 2021?

We are going to open an office in New York and cover a new field – Sports law.

Another exciting news is that we’re adding damages experts in our directory and conflict checker!

Where do you see Jus Mundi in five years?

The most important thing for us in 5 years is to have extended Jus Mundi to most of the major international areas such as human rights, the environment, personal data protection, etc.

The goal is naive, global and big – we want to make every piece of legal information around the globe easily accessible to every human being. There is so much to be done. We have not achieved more than 3% of our goal.

I am very much looking forward to follow Jus Mundi’s growth and success in the future. Thanks for joining me Jean-Rémi!

About the Interviewer