Way back in 2018, I reported here on the plan by Australia-based company Legaler to create a blockchain-based legal charity to allow social justice legal cases to be supported through crowdfunding and matched with lawyers willing to handle them.
Today that project, Legaler Aid, is officially launching, promising to connect litigants in social justice cases with the lawyers and funding they need “to navigate an overpriced legal system.”
Formed as a charitable organization in both the U.S. and Australia, Legaler Aid enables anyone to easily donate to legal cases they wish to support. Donated funds will go directly to case expenses, including legal fees, expert witness fees, and the like.
The service will use a blockchain ledger to ensure transparency around how donated funds are used. Those who donate funds to a case will be able to follow on the ledger exactly where and when funds are disbursed.
“We want every stakeholder to have full transparency about where the money goes,” Legaler founder and CEO Stevie Ghiassi told me.
Ghiassi believes this transparency will distinguish Legaler Aid from other legal crowdfunding sites that have been criticized in news stories for their lack of transparency.
It will also eliminate the possibility that funds will be diverted to another purpose.
The site is launching with three cases seeking funding:
- Justice for Alvin Cole’s Family. After police in Wauwatosa, Wis., shot and killed Alvin Cole in February, Cole’s mother and three sisters were arrested during a protest. This case seeks justice on their behalves.
- The family of Terrance Bridges. Bridges was shot and killed by police in Kansas City in May 2019. This case seeks justice for Bridges’ parents and two sons.
- Gaige Grosskreutz. Grosskreutz was the sole survivor of shootings last August in Kenosha, Wis., by Kyle Rittenhouse, during protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. This fund will support his legal effort to pursue relief.
The crowdfunding site launched today is the first phase of a broader initiative that will include a virtual legal clinic that will enable those in need of legal aid to be matched with lawyers willing to provide that help.
Legaler Aid is already partnering with the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation, whose mission is to engage Lex Mundi’s global network of more than 150 independent law firms across 100+ countries to support and empower those working to bring about high impact, sustainable, social and environmental change; and Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, one of the largest public interest law offices in California.
Legaler has launched a subsidiary, Uniplato Pty Ltd., that is building a variation on the Legaler client-communications portal that will offer offer a “communication platform as a service” that law firms and legal organizations can use through an API.
The ultimate goal is to create and end-to-end infrastructure that legal organizations can use to manage the entire client experience, from when they come in seeking legal help, through all bookings, communications and file management.
Ghiassi said this same platform will power virtual legal clinics, where clients can come in to a virtual environment, undergo initial triage and intake, and then be directed to a lawyer or legal professional.