Using Technology to Address Access to Courts and Justice
Courtroom5 is an online litigation support tool for pro se civil litigants designed to make true access to the courts and justice available to all. We are guided by a simple creed: the courts belong to the people and together we can take them back.
We are an award-winning tech startup. Most recently, co-founder Debra Slone and I were both honored as Fastcase 50 honorees. Courtroom5 was designated one of seven legal tech startups to watch by Law360. We know from firsthand experience that affording a lawyer is difficult and navigating the legal system without one is even more so.
In 2017, Courtroom5 was born out of our personal experiences. The skills we learned out of necessity during our cases are the skills Courtroom5 helps our customers develop while managing their own litigation. To date, we have served more than 3000 cases nationwide, across dozens of claim types. We know we have barely scratched the surface. Millions of people each year go to civil court without a lawyer. According to a US Justice Needs study conducted by The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL) and the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS), access to justice is a broad societal problem—66% of the population experienced at least one legal issue in the past four years, with just 49% of those problems having been completely resolved.
Courtroom5’s digital and artificial intelligence-based platform provides resources for litigants appearing in civil court without a lawyer. It is the most powerful solution available for pro se litigants facing complex civil claims. The litigation tool provides just-in-time legal education for our customers.
You are probably asking, “where do lawyers fit into to Courtroom5?” Great question. Our technology enables lawyers to serve people they otherwise would not have been able to serve. What we have learned is that by providing people the tools needed to represent themselves, we have helped them be able to specify limited scope legal services. And, importantly, to be able to afford a lawyer on a limited scope basis. Courtroom5 customers are invested in their case, the process, and educated when it comes to seeking a lawyer’s service.
People involved in legal cases need and want lawyers. Our customers are no different. But they need access to lawyers and legal services on terms they can afford. At the same time, lawyers need clients who can afford to pay them fairly for the time invested in their representation. Courtroom5 is bringing the two sides of the market together and closing the justice gap. People need legal services and lawyers need clients. Courtroom5 addresses both needs.
To close that gap, we are bringing lawyers onto our platform -- not to represent our users; few can afford that -- but to help them over the inevitable stumbling blocks that might stop them from completing their cases at Courtroom5. This is a new way for consumers to access the lawyers they need at a price they can afford. If you are pro se, working with a lawyer on demand is not something you could do without Courtroom5 technology, because you wouldn’t know how to task the lawyer. Our technology uniquely prepares people to use lawyers in this way.
This is how Courtroom5 works for lawyers offering limited scope legal services. The platform helps lawyers monetize leads they otherwise would not acquire. Lawyers refer lost leads to Courtroom5. The referred lead uses Courtroom5’s tools to work their case. The referred lead does part of the legal work themselves, and then hires the lawyer for specific limited-scope legal services.
Courtroom5 provides a solution for clients who cannot afford to pay for full representation. Our platform is affordable for users, and they become educated clients along the way. Lawyers create a profile on Courtroom5 listing education, speaking engagements, and any other relevant information. They include a rate sheet for the limited-scope legal services they offer. Courtroom5 customers pay upfront through the platform for the agreed upon limited-scope legal services. We take care of the administrative and mechanical aspects of the representation, allowing the lawyer to focus on the more complex aspects of lawyering. The process for customers to hire lawyers is straightforward. They review the offered services and select the services they need. The lawyer receives an alert from Courtroom5, checks for conflicts, reviews the request, and decides whether to take the case.
Courtroom5 addresses the critical issue of lack of meaningful access to our courts for many people in this country while helping solo practitioners and small firms acquire and retain clients through limited-scope legal services.
About the Author
Sonja Ebron, a PhD electrical engineer and entrepreneur, is the co-founder of Courtroom5. Courtroom5 is a digital- and artificial intelligence-based platform that, for a small monthly fee, gives its members access to an entire litigator’s toolset, animated video courses, workshops, legal forms and documents, and community forums. Through artificial intelligence capabilities, Courtroom5 is able to stay up-to-date on a case from start to finish, providing specific and timely information and aid each step of the way.
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