The Justice Technology Association is a new non-profit trade association composed of legal tech entrepreneurs, consumers, policymakers, and investors created to advocate for using legal technology to close the justice gap.
It is estimated that approximately 75% of the U.S. population cannot afford lawyer fees and do not have adequate access to the legal system. While bar associations attempt to close the justice gap through pro bono programs and other approaches to providing access to the legal system by consumers and small businesses, the business model for most law firms that serve consumers and small businesses is limiting. It is time for new approaches for enabling the broad middle class to access the legal system at a price they can afford. Bar associations are trade associations designed to protect and support the existing business model for delivering legal services by lawyers. Innovative legal technology companies and providers are demonstrating another way — despite regulatory obstacles that restrain innovations in the delivery of legal services.
The Justice Technology Association is designed to increase awareness of the growing Justice Tech sector. It will provide a collective voice to advocate for regulatory reform that will increase access to legal solutions without the legal profession’s participation. The creation of this organization is timely as the capacity of the legal profession to serve the legal needs of low, moderate, and middle-income individuals and families seems to have reached its limit.
The founding members of the Association are:
Courtroom5 – a low-cost AI-driven service that helps people represent themselves in complex civil cases.
HelloDivorce – an innovative divorce website that makes it easy to complete and file complicated divorce forms.
Easy Expunctions – a website that enables a user to clear their criminal record without the assistance of an attorney.
People Clerk – a web platform that assists clients in preparing, filing, and serving their small claim lawsuits.
These companies have created powerful software applications that substitute for the high cost of utilizing an attorney.
Sonja Ebron, the co-founder, and CEO of Courtroom5, one of the founding companies of the Association, told me that the organization would provide a framework to bring together different communities of interest committed to utilizing legal technology to provide access to justice.
JTA’s advisory board brings together a group of individuals committed to reforming the legal system and who have long advocated for reform of the legal system and the development of new ways to bring access to justice to the low, moderate, and middle-income individuals and families. [Full disclosure: I am a member of the Board of Advisors.]
The legal profession will always be with us, and for many situations, the use of a lawyer will continue to be essential. For maintaining the rule of law in our society, lawyers are indispensable. But many legal problems can be solved by simply having access to the correct legal information. Legal solutions powered by software can provide the low-cost alternative. Legal software solutions are often more accurate than a lawyer’s crafted work in a small law firm environment, as quality standards can be monitored and controlled more easily.
It is time for an association that advocates for the idea that technology can be an effective alternative to traditional legal services to meet the legal needs of the broad middle class.