According to a study by George Washington University Law School, close to 90% of civil cases involve unrepresented litigants and they often come from low-income households or vulnerable populations.
This informed Black professors, Sonja Ebron and Debra Slone, to work to change that, after a share of their own failed attempts to represent themselves. They launched Courtroom5 to help litigants navigate the court system, even if they are not represented.
TechXplore notes that the company provides step-by-step guidance to navigating civil cases, assisting litigants with what information they will need, provision of automated templates to write their pleadings and motions.
Its five-step process provides an affordable system for litigants to hire legal experts to help with limited portions of their cases. What is more, Courtroom5 offers courses and workshops on how one can represent him/herself in court.
“People are very intimidated when they go to see a lawyer, or when they go to see a judge. But the civil procedure is just about what information they are asking,” said co-founder Ebron, who has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering with a background in artificial intelligence. “We give that information to help them answer that question and choose from a limited set of options.”
How does Courtroom5 work? Forbes explains: “Say someone is being sued for debt collection and, thanks to the information provided on the platform, sees that the debt collector had not properly pled the case. They might want to draft an argument, but, after reading the relevant case law, realize they aren’t sure how to choose the right cases. With that in mind, they can hire a debt collection specialist in their state listed on the platform—the lawyer would have indicated their services and fees on the site—paying upfront for the work they need.”
Essentially, the platform assists people to mimic the behavior of a lawyer, taking the same steps a lawyer would, according to Forbes. Concerning funding, the founders have so far raised around $1 million from friends and family, pitch competitions, participation in Techstars, Google for Startups and Coralus, a funding organization for women, Forbes reported.
Courtroom5 has also expanded to a team of six people and about two-thirds of the six-person advisory board is lawyers.
Ebron has a PhD in electrical engineering with a background in artificial intelligence while Slone is a PhD librarian and expert in qualitative data analysis.