This post is part of our new Future of Law series which interviews the leading founders and executives who are on the front lines of the industry to get a better understanding of what problems the industry is facing, what trends are taking place, and what the future looks like.
1. What’s the history of UniCourt? Where and how did you begin?
JB: The Great Recession of 2008 left millions of consumers saddled with debt they could no longer afford, leading to a tidal wave of debt collection litigation. At the time, I was running my first startup, CountryWide Debt Relief, and was seeking to help consumers swept up in these lawsuits through various debt relief offerings. We expected that using court records to identify these consumers would be a relatively straightforward project, but it turned out to be a monumental undertaking.
The problem is that court records are siloed and each court does things differently. Each court stores and organizes records differently, uses different technologies, and has its own nomenclature or lack thereof. We found that retrieving data from the various courts was a cumbersome, time-consuming and, most of all, expensive proposition. This led us to build an automated solution that would aggregate and standardize court data across jurisdictions.
After many iterations and improvements, the tool we built evolved into the UniCourt platform. What we created in response to the recession answered a widespread need for better access and analysis of court records. It could help anyone wanting to use court data, and especially organizations eager to grow their business and make smarter data-driven decisions.
Today, UniCourt has global operations in the United States and India and we have a team of over 50 dedicated professionals who are passionate about helping our diverse list of clients connect with and analyze court records in useful and innovative ways. Our clients include law firms, news agencies, financial institutions, businesses, government agencies, educational institutions, non-profits, investigators, and consumers.
We are on a mission to connect people to court records.
2. What specific problem does UniCourt solve? How do you solve it?
JB: We found that having to search multiple court sites, track cases and manage cases in multiple pieces of disconnected software was burdensome, expensive and inefficient. The UniCourt platform is our solution, a simple, efficient and low cost platform that unifies data from both State and Federal courts. Our collaborative management tools and automated intelligence streamline processes requiring court data, while our Legal Data API allows companies to consume court data in bulk.
UniCourt is dedicated to organizing public records to make them universally accessible and useful. We connect businesses and consumers to the records they need and enable them to tap into the mountain of public data generated every day for analytics, business intelligence and development, background checks, and many other innovative uses.
3. What’s the future of law?
JB: In three words, automation, transparency and access.
Prediction #1: The future of law is rooted in the growing power of automation. While legal AI holds a prominent position in the conversation on the future of law, and even as we continue to enhance our own machine learning technology, we believe the automation of rote tasks and basic processes is key to improving the way lawyers practice law, and how consumers interact with the legal system.
Prediction #2: The future of law will also involve increased transparency surrounding the legal process. With great strides being made in organizing and structuring legal data, lawyers and consumers of legal services will have more data to make decisions from, and to better determine the appropriate price for legal services. When consumers understand what exactly lawyers are doing on their matters, this improves their ability to negotiate better fees and changes the calculus for lawyers to seek process efficiencies over billing more hours.
Prediction #3: With greater automation and transparency in the legal profession, the future of law will eventually translate into improved access to the legal system. When machines can give better answers to specific legal questions and more effectively provide instant updates on cases, and when lower costs of legal services result from embedded efficiencies and increased consumer knowledge, access to justice will improve. This will not only open the legal system to millions unable to currently afford legal services, but it will also open up a multi-billion dollar legal market for entrepreneurial lawyers.
4. What are the top 3 technology trends you’re seeing in the legal industry?
Trend #1: More prevalent use of legal analytics for business intelligence and development
Trend #2: Legal technology being leveraged for performance tracking and law firm selection
Trend #3: A transition from legal services being only provided by attorneys to a more open marketplace
5. Why is the legal industry ripe for disruption?
JB: Unlike other industries, the legal industry has not embraced technology, largely due to the fact that State bar associations have exercised a monopoly on the legal market.
The legal industry is also ripe for disruption because there is a great deal of savings and money to be made in leveraging legal technology to completely upend past processes and practices. Take the leaps forward being made in contract review technologies, and imagine the same concepts applied across every process, every document, and every negotiation or litigation a law firm or lawyer engages in. The implications are astounding.
About Josh Blandi
Josh Blandi is UniCourt’s CEO and Co-Founder. Understanding the need for automated solutions in the legal space, Josh Co-Founded UniCourt in 2014 as a SaaS offering looking to disrupt the way court records are accessed and used.
Under Josh’s leadership, UniCourt has expanded from California State courts to aggregate legal data from hundreds of Federal and State courts, delivering UniCourt’s customers access to over 50 million court records.