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About three years ago when I was starting up Evolve Law, a then-law student reached out to me to discuss her new venture, LegalYou. Ariane Ice and I had some great conversations as we both attended law school mid-career. She and her husband, attorney Thomas Ice, were building a website with free legal information for those Americans trying to navigate the court system.
We recently caught up and Ariane talked about how Legal You is being used within the law firm Ice Legal, P.A. that was started in 2008. Ice Legal is an internet-based, multistate law firm presently practicing in Florida, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, District of Columbia, North Dakota, Wyoming, Missouri, Wisconsin, and New York. Ariane is passionate about expanding access to legal information, education and services to anyone who is representing themselves.
Mary Juetten: What problem are you solving?
Ariane Ice: We are working on lowering the cost of hiring an attorney through technology, economies of scale, and the unbundling of legal services.
Juetten: How do you help improve access to justice for consumers?
Ice: We are enabling people to access the courts in a meaningful way and also developed a unique, comprehensive, accessible legal resource website called LegalYou.
Juetten: What are some of the specific use cases or scenarios you can share on how consumers can leverage your company or solution?
Ice: We are turning the traditional attorney-client relationship on its head. Our “as-needed” model contemplates that the client will commit to managing a portion of the defense of their case. Most often, this involves appearing in court and communicating with the opposing side. Our unique case oversight and client-training method gives them the best of both worlds—attorney involvement at an affordable price.
Our “a la carte” service system encourages our clients to hire us only for the legal help that they need. For example, a client may employ us during pretrial discovery but then represent themselves in court. Or a client may want us to aide them in drafting certain trial motions but not others.
Juetten: What are you doing to help the larger legal tech movement boost access to justice?
Ice: Our cutting-edge resource, LegalYou, offers a whole dimension of legal education that takes even the densest, most opaque legal knowledge and makes it accessible through engaging, even entertaining content like animated videos, games, fun infographics and a humorous glossary. We are developing new technologies that help facilitate a consumer-based, volume legal practice, such as the use of artificial intelligence for data entry and facial recognition to overcome barriers having clients interact remotely with their attorney.
Juetten: Why do you care about access to justice?
Ice: As lawyers, we have seen firsthand what an everyday person has to face when legal issues come up, along with the desperation and hopelessness they often feel in the shadow of that. This is not the effect the law and the courts should have on our populace. Bringing legal empowerment and accessibility to the people is not only a noble cause, it’s an absolute must for a just society.
Juetten: Who are your customers and how do you find them?
Ice: They are anybody and everybody, especially people facing legal challenges and bankruptcy. We use marketing techniques that cover both ends of the low-tech/hi-tech spectrum.
Juetten: How did past projects and/or experience help with this new project?
Ice: During the foreclosure crisis, we spearheaded defenses that gave us national attention and a booming client base that required us to quickly develop systems for managing cases at high-volume.
Juetten: Did you raise money?
Ice: No. Self-funded.
Juetten: Startups are an adventure — what’s your favorite startup story?
Ice: Airbnb’s story: the founders financed their startup in a very creative, outside-the-box way (no pun intended) that had nothing to do with their eventual business: by selling generic cereal in special presidential packaging for the 2008 election (i.e. ObamaO’s, Cap’n McCain, etc.). Eventually, they sold enough to turn their profit into the initial financing for Airbnb.
Juetten: How do you measure success, and what is your favorite success story?
Ice: We would measure success by the extent to which we can disrupt the legal profession. Many legal-tech startups are disrupting the traditional way of delivering legal services and each of these is a success story that we support.
Juetten: Any tips to add for early-stage founders?
Ice: Our advice to early-state legal disrupters is they must be prepared to face resistance to change from the court system and the regulatory framework around the profession.
Juetten: What’s your long-term vision?
Ice: We want to continue evolving our mission to create maximum accessibility to the law for anybody and to place legal justice in the hands of the people. Ultimately, we hope to grow enough that our model of delivering legal services becomes ubiquitous.
I have written before on this education gap that prevents people from even knowing about their legal needs here. Congratulations to Ariane, Thomas, and Legal You. #onwards.
January 10, 2019 at 09:18AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs