Here in Silicon Valley, we see firsthand how social enterprise has the potential to act as a meaningful channel for collaboration. This environment was, in part, the inspiration for LawGives, a social enterprise that grew out of the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics (CodeX), Stanford Law School, and the Stanford Department of Computer Science. At LawGives, we believe legal professionals need a better way to provide pro bono legal assistance, and clients need a better way to ﬁnd trusted legal help. We are building a platform that will automatically match clients to legal aid, services, and information, on the basis of a comprehensive case intake system. Our ultimate goal is to eliminate all obstacles to ﬁnding legal help online by giving lawyers and legal communities more effective and measurable ways to make a difference.
Like any new startup, we needed honest feedback on our product and organizational goals from the community we plan to serve: the legal market and, in particular, lawyers in private practice. Additionally, given the nature of our organization, we needed to do this as inexpensively as possible.
Using SurveyMonkey Audience, we were able to build a survey outlining the goals and strategies of LawGives, and then have it completed by a substantial number of legal practitioners, providing us with a sample that is larger than what we could otherwise have obtained—all over the course of a few days.
With over 350 responses from legal professionals across all demographics, we learned the following key insights about obstacles that limit the number of individuals and organizations that receive help on a pro bono basis.
- Time: This is the main obstacle with over 50% of respondents citing time as their primary barrier from finding pro bono cases to work on.
- Area of Expertise: Almost 20% of respondents indicated having difficulty finding cases within their area of expertise. A successful deployment of our matching technology has the potential to greatly reduce this barrier.
- Collaboration: When asked how attractive it would be to have access to a pool of people with legal training who are willing to assist them, 81% of lawyers answered that they would find such an offering slightly to extremely attractive. Almost 40% of respondents answered that this would be very to extremely attractive to them. This data informs us that building such collaborative features should have a high priority.
As a result of the survey data collected, we made changes to prioritization of features that are part of our product development roadmap. By informing us what tasks to tackle first, we are increasing our chance of success on the product side. In addition, we are better able to communicate our message in terms that resonate with our core users. However, most importantly, we were able to get this feedback from a honest, unbiased group of our legal peers, thus giving us critical insights in the field of pro bono work.
Visit LawGives today, to register for updates about our project.
Pieter Gunst studied and practiced law in Belgium, specializing in intellectual property and technology issues. He moved to California to join the Law, Science and Technology Program at Stanford Law School, where he and his co-founders were inspired to pursue their shared passion: the application of technology to improve access to the justice system.
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