Lawyers are expensive. And, as we all know, everyone loves a good lawsuit. Further, if history is any guide, tech-based startups are a no-fail way to make truckloads of money. Finally, if the Millennial generation has taught us anything, it has proven that you can, and should, use Kickstarter to do everything.
Which brings us to the latest legal startup, CrowdJustice, a crowdfunding platform allowing ordinary citizens to fund public-interest litigation. CrowdJustice describes itself as a startup that “gives you the tools to raise funds, mobilise your community and publicise your issue1” by hiring lawyers to file a lawsuit. Now instead of donating your hard-earned money to charities to save endangered animals or at-risk children, you can give your money to lawyers.
This service is either a good idea or one of the worst ideas ever conceived. Certainly there are a number of problems that could probably only be solved by a judge declaring a law unconstitutional or a jury punishing a group of powerful evildoers. But opening up the floodgates to the whim of the populace seems, well, problematic. Besides, groups like the World Wildlife Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union, Greenpeace, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and many other public interest groups have a good record of assembling a war-chest for paying a team of lawyers when the need arises.
The first case that CrowdJustice has put up for funding is Torres v. BP, a human rights abuse case against the oil giant which has already been in the UK press. It sounds like a terrible affair. Perhaps this test case will pave the way for more lawsuits, but only time will tell. Tell us what you think — should we start crowdfunding lawsuits?
Featured image: “Conceptual views of high-cost legal fees” from Shutterstock.
Yes, the spelling of “mobilize” and “publicize” is with an “s” because the company is British, and no, they did not use an Oxford comma. ↩