When Julia Salasky started her job at the UN, she felt as though she wasn’t doing enough for the community. So she quit.
Julia Salasky has always dreamed of working to fight for human rights. When she finally got a job as a lawyer at the United Nations, it seemed like all of her dreams were finally coming true. So it was to her surprise that this seemingly idealistic situation she was in was actually nothing like what she had pictured.
From the start Salasky was unsatisfied with the minimum level of work she was doing. Prior to this job she was doing pro-Bono legal work in the United Kingdom where she saw first-hand the type of situations lower class citizens were enduring. She worked a lot with victims of domestic violence who were being denied justice due to legal aid cuts, which made it impossible for lower income individuals to afford any sort of help. When she transitioned to her job at the UN, she felt as though she was doing way less compared to the work she was doing prior for free. So she quit, and decided to come up with a new plan.
Salasky had one major goal and that was to provide a service that would allow anyone to have access to legal support regardless of income/socioeconomic status.
Since its launch in the UK in 2014, the company has brought in what would be equivalent to ten million US dollars, all donated from small donors around the world. The money has been used to help provide legal services for almost 1,000 individuals. Within the past year the company has mainly been assisting students who face deportation charges, and a large amount of individuals involved in environmental protests who have been wrongfully arrested.
Salasky is inspiring the entire legal industry, which is beginning to realize that limiting legal access to someone based on income removes a whole other marketplace of clients, and just isn’t as fair. More and more online legal chat services are being created, all of which have the same larger goal as Salasky. Not only to provide advice and legal support, but at the very least inform the general public to their legal rights that they might not even be aware of.
For example, “DoNotPay” is an online chat service, which uses AI-powered legal counsel as a tool to help people challenge parking tickets, battle landlord contract violations, help with asylum applications, and issues surrounding maternity leave. In addition there are now a number of apps available that provide the same level of “non-conventional” legal support.
“Some of the barriers to women accessing justice are structural. It’s hard to speak out against, say, sexual discrimination in the workplace if the person who will suffer is not the person discriminating, but the victim. Especially in cases of domestic violence, the victims, often women, are not only hit with the burden of high financial costs when pursuing a legal matter, but also face wider, systemic issues or prejudices.”
While technology entering the legal industry can be seen as a positive integration, it also has it’s downfalls. Government and court systems use technology to more easily and efficiently get through cases, analyze documents, make charges, digitize records, etc. it’s become a much more fast paced field. This can make all the legal jargon that most individuals are unfamiliar with even more complicated to understand, because now there’s a digital side too it. Salasky is also thinking of this, and continues to make sure the public stays informed and isn’t overwhelmed by a bunch of new legal terms. Specifically Salasky has turned her focus to women who seek proper legal support to receive the justice they deserve.
Salasky was proud of her company’s ability to provide cheap legal advice and services to those who really needed it but couldn’t afford it, however, she still was left feeling like more could be done. She saw how the mainstream world of law was using technology to its benefit and she wanted to do the same for CrowdJustice. She brought together legal experts, software engineers, and designers and was able to create improved systems for online payments, find new ways to raise awareness around legal issues, and help consumers have a better experience of the law.
Salasky and her team are ready to change the entire legal industry by proving it’s not about the business or the money, but the client. The wider pool of clients she’s able to bring in, the greater demand there will be for her type of legal services. She hopes that law firms everywhere will begin to realize this. After all, as Salasky says, legal services are the only way for anyone to have real rights, “no access, no rights.”
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