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Using the crowd to fight legal battles

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Using the crowd to fight legal battles

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Legal aid has long existed to help the less fortunate with their legal costs.  Changes to the qualification criteria for access to legal aid last year however has resulted in a significant fall in the number of people who can claim it.

It’s perhaps not surprising therefore that there are initiatives forming online to try and step into the breach.  One of the foremost of these is Lexshares, a crowdfunding site based in New York, that is aiming to help with the legal costs of those involved in court battles.

It’s sadly all too common for legal costs for court cases to be extremely high, especially for more complex cases.  Whilst the legal aid process aims to ensure that no injustice is caused by a lack of finance on the part of the plaintiff, it’s likely that the recent changes will result in some falling through the gaps.

LexShares exists to help those kind of people by connecting them up with others who are willing to help support them in their case.

The site particularly focuses on so called ‘David and Goliath’ type cases where you have a large entity taking on an individual or small business.  Plaintiffs send their case to the LexShares team of legal professionals to be reviewed.  If the team believe there is a decent chance of success then it’s posted onto the website.

From here, users of the site can pledge their support for the case, and state how much they’re willing to prove.  If the case proves successful, then each investor receives their return of any legal fee plus any damages awarded by the verdict.  If the case fails, then the plaintiff doesn’t pay anything (and the investors lose their money).

There is a dashboard facility on the site whereby investors can track the case as it progresses.  What are your thoughts on this approach?  Is it a good way for people to gain financial support for their case or will it inevitably descend into a kind of betting platform?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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