A Letter from Co-Founder & Chairman
Over my forty years as an attorney, I’ve learned a lot about the American legal system. I’ve won justice for children who were permanently brain-damaged by lead paint poisoning. I’ve argued for the lives of men accused of murder. I’ve worked with politicians to write new local and state laws that would reduce the overwhelming mistreatment of the poor in Baltimore. I’ve fought against powerful lobbyists who profit from the status quo.
I know the legal world inside out, upside down and backwards. I know how it works. And, more importantly, I know how it doesn’t work.
To be clear, I believe the American civil justice system is the best in the world. A big reason Americans have prospered so much and for so long is that our laws and courts give us the freedom to contract, and will enforce the legal agreements that we make. Civil justice protects not just businesses, but also the customers, by requiring business practices that comport with law and societal judgments of fair public policy.
But any American lawyer can tell you that for millions of citizens, our system is too difficult to navigate, too slow, and too expensive. The American Bar Association found in its 2016 Report on the Future of Legal Services in the United States that “the majority of moderate-income individuals, do not receive the legal help they need” and “in some jurisdictions, more than eighty percent of litigants in poverty are unrepresented in matters involving basic life needs.” Many of my clients were people for whom $300 was the difference between living in a home and living on the street. But in the American legal system, litigating to recover this sum of money is often prohibitively expensive and slow. Imagine how much worse it is in other legal systems around the world, where the courts aren’t just slow and expensive, but are fully corrupt.
I believe we can use technology to help the millions of people currently suffering as a result of these limitations.
In recent years, technology has revolutionized how people communicate, what people know, and how people do business. And the pace of this revolution only seems to increase with time. Soon almost everyone on the planet will have a cell phone–most of them smartphones. That’s no small thing. It means that every one of us will have in our pocket what a mere ten years ago would have been considered a super computer–thousands of times more powerful than all the computing resources used to put a man on the moon. And all of these computers, and the humans who hold them, will be connected to one another.
Think about it. Right now, anyone can pick up their pocket super computer and instantly contact a business prospect in China or Brazil or Indonesia. Parties can transmit documents and get everyone on board with an agreement at the speed of light. Parties can use blockchain-based smart contracts to make agreements self-executing, and free from the costs and delays that third parties would impose. And businesses like eBay, AirBnB, and Amazon are using this technology to make commerce more efficient.
Sadly, the world of law and government has lagged far behind this technological tidal wave. It is still a world of paper, struggling in the chains of legacy systems instituted as far back as medieval times. Stuck in “time honored” ways of doing things. Most lawyers and judges aren’t pioneers in this technological land rush, which means non-lawyers and non-jurists are writing the new rules without them. Coders write smart contracts without the background to understand how those agreements fit into the overarching justice framework. Consumers mindlessly click on platforms’ “Terms of Service”, unwittingly agreeing to give up their right to sue if they are wronged, giving up their right to participate in a class action, and agreeing to binding arbitration by an arbitrator financially motivated to favor big business. How many people realize how much they are giving away with a simple click? Right now, the absence of lawyers in this technology revolution is causing rampant unfairness.
If lawyers were to get involved, and to use all these technological developments, think about the global impact they could have. This is the chance of a lifetime to build a global justice system that is affordable, efficient, open, and fair. As it spreads and flourishes, it could foster open, just, fair and peaceful societies in countries all across the world where legacy systems will not slow innovation. Something as simple as the possession of a connected cell phone could be the door to the spread of world prosperity–with the rule of law as the foundation.
Juris hopes to achieve this goal: to create an affordable, efficient, open, and fair system of online civil justice, which leverages the vast pools of legal knowledge and talent available across the world, while taking full advantage of the technological breakthroughs that are currently being ignored by the legal establishment.
We are a team of lawyers, coders, and business people dedicated to modernizing justice and its delivery, using the technological miracles in everyone’s pocket.
To achieve our goal, we have to build a few different things. We want to build a community of verified expert attorneys by verifying credentials and issuing JurisIDs. We want to develop an open source library of expertly crafted legal agreements and code integrated smart contracts. We want to develop affordable, fair, transparent, open dispute resolution, performed by reputationally credentialed neutral experts. We want to give lawyers and legal professionals a new way to make a living, thriving through the connected, online gig economy.
We aim to bring civil justice to the world by bringing legal systems into the 21st Century.
We invite all idealistic individuals and groups eager to make efficient, fair worldwide justice a reality to join us on our journey. Inquire within