Startup corner: CrowdJustice in Focus

CrowdJustice helps provide much needed access to justice by raising funds and awareness for legal cases, enabling communities to back legal action that matters to them and lawyers to take on cases that they may not otherwise take. UK founded, CrowdJustice has launched in the US and received huge national coverage in both jurisdictions. We say it’s an example of modern technology at its best. Here is founder Julia Salasky with more.
How would you describe your company to a friend?
CrowdJustice is a crowdfunding platform that helps people access the legal system by raising funds and awareness for legal cases. We’ve developed a tailored approach to crowdfunding that expands access to legal resources, raises awareness of cases, and empowers communities to engage with specific legal action that matters to them.  It’s a powerful way to democratise access to the law, help lawyers get paid for taking cases they otherwise might not be able to take, and create new pathways to the justice system for individuals and organisations seeking to create change through the courts.
When were you founded?
We launched at the end of May 2015.
By who?
Julia Salasky (pictured), an ex-Linklaters and UN lawyer, founded CrowdJustice with a view to using technology to making the law more accessible to more people.
Who are your key managers/senior execs?
We’ve got a terrific team from a mix of people from technology and legal backgrounds.
Gavin Clark is our Head of Engineering. He’s held roles as Head of Engineering at Blackwell Learning and RolePoint. Colin Whitlow is our Head of Content. His background includes strategic roles at YouTube, and a range of leadership roles in film and media.
Alexis Blane, Kip Wainscott and Jo Sidhu head up our legal partnerships in the US and UK respectively; they’ve got backgrounds in law at the State Department, the private sector, and the White House (on the US side) and Ashurst in the UK.
What is your growth strategy?
Right now we’re really focused on growing through building awareness of our brand in the UK – both for people who have cases, and for lawyers who can’t take every case probono or on a contingency fee and for whose clients CrowdJustice can be a really powerful tool. We’ve also just launched in the US, with several important cases ranging from immigration rights to voting rights. The political situation in the US has made community activism through the courts something that is high in the public consciousness.
Have you received investment?
We haven’t announced our funding round yet.
Who are your target clients?
On the one hand, we are a resource for individuals, community groups and non-profits who might benefit from funds or community support for their legal case; and on the other hand, we’re a resource for backers, people who want to see the law achieve a concrete outcome for someone or in relation to an issue they care about. We engage a lot with law firms, community groups and non-profits who have clients or cases that could really benefit from funds or community support and engagement.
What are the key challenges you face in your market?
We’re doing something new in a market that has long been dominated by broken funding models, and yet a reliance on tradition. Increasingly we see lawyers embrace the CrowdJustice model as a tool that helps their clients not only raise funds, but also helps them feel less alone in their legal journey. What’s been fascinating too is understanding backers – people who want to help use the law as a lever of change for a friend, or a social or political issue.
What are the most exciting developments you’ve seen in your market in the past year to 18 months?
We’ve seen huge political change in the markets that we operate in (the US and the UK) over the last year, with people on both sides of political spectrum feeling disenfranchised. The courts are a powerful tool for promoting rights as well as protecting them, and an important check on executive power. For example, 5000 people crowdfunded a successful Supreme Court challenge to Brexit in the UK; and in the US, we launched with a case of two brothers denied access to the US following President Trump’s Muslim Ban.  It’s never been a more interesting time to be creating a product that specifically helps people come together around legal issues that can make a difference.
What you probably didn’t know?
Only 17% of startups in 2017 have a female founder.