CrowdDefend Launches Crowdfunding Platform for the Legal Space
(Press release, Feb. 18, 2015) — CrowdDefend, a crowdfunding platform for the legal space, launches its service to the public this week. The platform seeks to expand access to justice for individuals, organizations and businesses that can't otherwise afford to pay for legal representation, court fees and associated trial costs. CrowdDefend can be accessed at www.crowddefend.com.
Unlike in criminal cases, in civil disputes there is no guarantee of legal representation. While publicly and privately funded legal aid services can offer advice and representation to those that can't afford an attorney out-of-pocket, the funding for these organizations is extremely restricted. This leaves millions of Americans without adequate representation for legal issues that have far-reaching personal and professional consequences.
Furthermore, since financing can be the key to a successful lawsuit, parties with outsized resources can come into a legal dispute with an unfair advantage. In more politically charged cases, special interest can exert its influence through backdoor financial support.
"CrowdDefend's mission is to even the playing field for ordinary citizens by giving them the tools to share their stories and raise funds from a community of legal advocates," says founder and CEO Hiraa Khan. Hiraa, who was formerly on the Patent Licensing and Acquisition team at Google Inc., says CrowdDefend is inspired, among other things, by the three years she spent on the board of directors of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California. "At CrowdDefend we believe that promoting access to justice is a collective responsibility. Through our platform we hope to not only increase access to the courts, but also create more awareness about the justice gap in this country."
Since CrowdDefend's beta launch in late-January 2015, the platform has funded one case in its entirety. The campaign was launched by CIVIC, an immigration advocacy and support network, to fundraise for the bond of an unaccompanied minor seeking asylum in the U.S. from Guatemala. 55 users contributed $2,250 in just seven days to have him released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention. You can read more details about the campaign here. Today the young man's legal counsel is actively working on his asylum case.
Another active case is brought by Public Counsel, the country's largest pro-bono law firm. The lawsuit seeks to put an end to solitary confinement of youth in Contra Costa County, California's juvenile justice program. The campaign can be accessed here.
CrowdDefend is also hosting a legal matter by Western Environmental Law Center, a public-interest law firm focusing on environmental issues. Its campaign is seeking funds to protect Washington's wild wolves by making the state's Wolf Conservation and Management plan legally enforceable. The case hopes to make the state comply with the use of non-lethal control measures to prevent wolf and livestock conflicts. The campaign can be accessed here.
How it Works
Users apply to have their cases posted on CrowdDefend, and if they are considered to have strong merit, they are posted to the platform. Once posted, the CrowdDefend community can review the case and decide if they want to give to it. Contributors to a case are able to track legal activity related to that case over time.
To ensure that money raised on our platform is used for the stated purposes, we only allow funds to be transferred to law firms, legal aid organizations and legal defense funds.