Conestoga Grad Drops Out of Harvard to Pursue a Startup. Here Are 400 Million Reasons Why It Was a Good Choice

Eva Shang.
Image via Legalist.
Eva Shang.

Conestoga High School graduate Eva Shang dropped out of Harvard University to create Legalist Inc., a technology-powered investment firm that raised about $400 million over the past six months, writes Matt Wirz for the Wall Street Journal. 

Shang, 26, who grew up in Paoli after emigrating from China when she was three years old, started Legalist in 2016 with fellow Harvard dropout Christian Haigh, despite having no formal investment training. 

After struggling for years to find investors, the pair received a $1.5 million backing from startup accelerator Y Combinator and a $100,000 grant from Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal. 

“I don’t blame them,” Shang said about the investors who turned her down. “If I were an allocator, there would be no reason to take a 20-year-old dropout with a computer seriously.”

According to its website, Legalist “uses data-driven technology to invest in credit assets at scale. We combine proprietary sourcing technology with rigorous underwriting expertise to generate risk-adjusted returns for our clients.”

Legalist’s flagship strategy is litigation finance. Using AI, it advertises its ability to find cases with the highest chances of winning. The company gets fund managers to back plaintiff lawsuits and is rewarded with a percentage, depending on the court’s judgments.

Shang claims Legalist wins about 80 percent of the lawsuits it backs, whereas the average success rate in litigation finance is 65-75 percent.

Read more about Eva Shang in the Wall Street Journal

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in April 2022.

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