The Australian legal technology company Legaler has raised $1.5 million to be used to help build a proprietary blockchain aimed at bridging the global gap in access to justice.
Legaler’s blockchain will provide the infrastructure and developer tools for legal services providers to build their own secure and scalable decentralized applications, the company says. This funding round to help drive that development was led by MasterNode Ventures, joined by Pacific Blue Capital and others.
Legal cofounder and CEO Stevie Ghiassi says he is targeting the 4 billion people in the world who are without access to justice. Even in developed countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, he notes, 80 percent of people encountering a legal issue are unable to get help.
“There needs to be a fundamental shift and blockchain technology will provide just that,” Ghiassi says.
I first wrote about Legaler’s plan last February, reporting then that it planned to create a cryptocurrency for the legal industry that would be used for transactions between lawyers and clients and by lawyers to purchase features and services within the Legaler ecosystem. In addition, Legaler planned to create a blockchain-based legal charity, Legaler Aid, that would allow social justice legal cases to be crowdfunded via tax-deductible contributions.
To date, Legaler’s main product has been a secure videochat platform for lawyers to meet and collaborate with clients. That platform is being used by over 1,000 firms across 80 countries, the company says.
Legal now says its focus is on building an App Store-like infrastructure consisting of a proprietary blockchain and developer tools that will allow legal services providers to easily build their own applications, which Legaler is calling dApps. The goal, the company says, is to bring the $1 trillion global legal industry online, eradicating the need for expensive intermediaries. The company also plans to direct fund development of dApps that are directed at providing greater access to justice.
The company has already developed the first of these dApps, Legaler Aid. It will match disadvantaged clients with pro bono legal advice, using a tokenized incentive system, and will also serve as a platform for crowdfunding social justice cases through tax-deductible donations.
Legaler is planning a token sale to take place during the fourth quarter of this year. The investment it announced today will enable it to further develop its technology and team ahead of the sale.
Legaler says its blockchain platform will be better suited for legal services applications than public blockchains. To maintain privacy, transaction data will be decentralized so as not to be exposed to all nodes in the network, as they would be in a public blockchain. The blockchain will be interoperable with major legal platforms and protocols, including OpenLaw, Clause.io, Ergo, Accord Project, and others.
The developer platform will provide libraries and open-source protocols for developers to build apps using SDK and API.
“Existing public blockchains have several limitations which limit privacy and transaction throughput which have prompted us to explore new consensus algorithms and sidechains for speed and cost savings, as well as zero knowledge proof technology to meet the confidentiality requirements of the legal industry,” says Ghiassi.