Why did you set up CrowdJustice?I spent some time on secondment in a legal aid clinic, then worked for the UN, and I worked with clients who really struggled to access the legal system. While I was at the UN the idea for CrowdJustice just crystallised: why is it so difficult to access the legal system when it’s a social good, and we’ve got the technology that could facilitate that? There was this gap that could so easily be corrected online.
Can you tell us a bit more about how it works?To raise funds for your case, you need to have already instructed a lawyer. We independently verify that – confirming with the lawyer and checking that they’re regulated. Then you can start drafting your page. Cases are best framed as human stories: an event has happened to change the status quo; something about what has happened is unlawful or unjust, or the person seeks redress of some kind; and using the law will put that individual – or a broader community – in a better position. It’s really about explaining the legal case in a very simple way – in a way that explains to people what you’re trying to achieve by using the law.
That’s not to say that a case has to have broader social impact – it could be a very personal case, for example that you were discriminated against at work – in which case your backers may well be people proximate to you who want to help you because they care about you. Meanwhile, cases that hit on broader issues might attract many more backers – almost 4,000 people backed The People’s Challenge to Brexit, for instance – and all of those £10 backers can say they truly played a part in history. When someone’s case goes live on the platform, there are many things they can do to drive the success of the crowdfunding – but social networks like Facebook tend to be very powerful force multipliers. Once the funds are raised, they go directly to the lawyer’s client account on behalf of the claimant. We encourage people to keep backers updated. It’s a nice way for backers to feel that their donation has made a difference.