Community.lawyer builds software to help networks of lawyers meet the legal needs of their community.
Every year millions of Americans confront high-stakes legal matters like eviction, deportation, and child custody without the assistance of counsel. Yet study after study indicates that quality legal assistance often means the difference between success or failure, between keeping a family in their home or not. That’s why Community.lawyer is committed to developing technology to break down the barriers of cost and complexity that separate everyday Americans from quality legal help. Every choice we make as a company, every product we design, every partnership we form — we measure against that standard.
To formalize this commitment, we’ve incorporated as a Public Benefit Corporation (“PBC”) and, in our company charter, enshrined our mission to promote access to quality legal help. PBCs are new kinds of social enterprises that are legally required to think beyond their bottom lines. We are proud to join the less than 1% of American corporations that are empowered to place mission and sustainability before profit.
Every year millions of Americans confront high-stakes legal matters like eviction, deportation, and child custody without the assistance of counsel.
In industry after industry, new technologies are transforming traditional service delivery models and creating both new challenges and opportunities. Over the last decade alone, software has produced radical changes in the way Americans shop for goods (Amazon), obtain transportation (Uber), and visit new places (Airbnb). With the growing prevalence of marketplace technology, the legal profession stands at a crossroads of its own. Consumers increasingly expect to search for, evaluate, and purchase legal services online — an expectation that commercial marketplaces have sought to capitalize on by positioning themselves as digital hubs for legal services.
As more commerce migrates onto the internet, such marketplaces threaten to displace established find-a-lawyer services offered by nonprofit bar associations and other groups of local attorneys. This trend poses acute risks for both legal consumers and private practitioners because, unlike established find-a-lawyer services, commercial marketplaces often lack deep understanding of local communities, as well as the duties imposed by professional rules. The result is marketplaces that are designed with only the priorities of shareholders in mind, leading to high transaction costs, fixed prices, and ethically impermissible practices like fee splitting.
At Community.lawyer, P.B.C., we believe that embracing technology should not require the legal profession to compromise either its autonomy or its ethical obligations. Rather, the right technology can unlock new opportunities for bar associations and other networks of attorneys to — in the words of former ABA President Hubbard — “deliver justice, not just to some, but to all.” Community.lawyer developed our technology to deliver on that belief and empower networks of local attorneys to amplify their impact. Instead of a central digital legal hub, our team envisions a future where consumers can access an ecosystem of local, trusted lawyer networks. This ecosystem would ensure that the legal service models of the future are authored by the legal profession itself, rather than imposed from outside. In this way, technological innovation can be combined with respect for professional standards to deliver quality legal help to more Americans.
We believe that embracing technology should not require the legal profession to compromise either its autonomy or its ethical obligations.
We are a team of public service-driven lawyers and engineers with a track record of social impact work at organizations like the Legal Aid Society and ACLU and through contributions to open-source technology projects. We also have deep experience in software development, shipping scores of products and features for Fortune 500 companies in diverse sectors like media, travel, and retail.