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Courtroom5 Lets You Litigate Your Own Civil Case

by Muriel Vega

If you find yourself in the middle of a civil litigation case — a contested divorce, foreclosure, contract breach, etc. — you can legally represent yourself in the proceedings. But it can be overwhelming to find and learn all of the relevant information to litigate your case.

Sonja Ebron and Debra Slone, an electrical engineer and librarian respectively, found themselves in this position while in the middle of a civil lawsuit over an unfair eviction.

But they learned some hard lessons during that trial. As academics, they researched and picked up enough to feel confident in case they had to defend themselves again.

“We realized that there were millions of people who were facing the same of sort of challenges,” Ebron tells Hypepotamus.

“We put together what we initially considered an educational project to help people understand civil procedures, language, and strategy based on the information that’s out there.”

It wasn’t long before the project evolved into a full-fledged legaltech startup called Courtroom5.

The case management platform allows individuals in civil cases to access legal templates, searchable case laws, case analysis tools, and video training resources to have a successful day in court.

The key ingredient to the platform, says Ebron, is co-founder Slone’s background as a librarian. “She knows how to organize information that’s publicly available and make it easy to digest for laypeople, folks who haven’t had an experience in court at all,” says Ebron.

Courtroom5 has an AI component that prompts users with relevant resources as they go through the process, such as forms that need to be completed or term definitions.

The platform contains legal document templates, from filing a complaint to a motion to dismiss. It walks users through each step of a civil litigation case including the gathering of evidence and searching the appellate case law database.

“We help the person understand how to find cases that would be persuasive in their case,” says Ebron.

Users handling multiple cases can create different workspaces for each. They also can record case expenses  — copying costs, parking fees, cellphone, etc. There’s even a task manager to keep track of important deadlines and set reminders.

“Courtroom5 really gives you a bird’s eye view of your entire case so you can understand what’s important and what’s not,” says Ebron.

The platform does not currently cover summary procedures, such as the type of eviction the co-founders dealt with in the first place, since they are litigated over such quick timelines — a matter of weeks, says Ebron.

Courtroom5 has also built a community around their education component, with online courses, videos, and a community forum to connect with other people that are self-representing. Ebron shares that the entire process can feel isolating.

Based in Durham, North Carolina, Courtroom5 serves litigants nationwide.

Later this month, they will spend time at the Google for Startups: Black Founders Exchange bootcamp, as well as the Lexis Nexis legal tech accelerator in Raleigh, all in preparation of seeking institutional capital backers.

“We’re working on partnering with legal aid agencies and public librarians around the country to help them streamline inquiries and use their time more efficiently,” says Ebron.

“Being a black founder can be very isolating, so we’re excited to go to a place where black founders are congregating and learn from everybody on the challenges they’re facing and how they’re responding to them,” she says.

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