Folks who can’t make rent have a serious legal problem. Breaching a lease can lead to eviction, or even homelessness. The legal problem is common and the consequences are dire, but most lawyers simply can’t help. Kudos to the noble saints who provide legal aid in these cases, but for obvious reasons, usually people with rent problems can’t retain an attorney. Tenant law is ripe for innovation.
Check out Hello Landlord. Renters use a sleek form to answer questions, which generates a letter that is mailed to the owner. Well-drafted correspondence helps the tenant communicate in a sensible legal manner to reschedule a payment or request repairs. It makes sense, it’s the right thing to do… but how is Hello Landlord free?
According to its website, SixFifty is “a group of lawyers and engineers that believe the law should be easier to navigate.” They are also working on tech products in the areas of privacy, asylum and business startups. Behind the curtain is lawyer-technologist Kimball Parker, who also spearheads BYU’s LawX innovation program.
SixFifty and LawX teamed up with Arizona law school’s Innovation for Justice (i4J) program, directed by Professor Stacy Butler. According to Butler, each year i4J focuses on a particular social justice issue that intersects with the legal system, and applies “a design and systems thinking framework to exploring that issue with the goal of generating useful community deliverables.” LawX also seeks to solve one legal problem each semester. LawX is said to be “structured as a design-thinking process, in which students will have fast-paced deadlines and responsibilities that are much like being in a startup.”
Big law and Academia are in on the legal tech revolution. Cross-pollinate that combination with Silicon Valley Internet magic, and our legal future is here.
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