University of California College of the Law unveils justice tech startup program
The LexLab center at the University of California College of the Law at San Francisco has announced a new program to support justice tech startups.
Founded in 2019, the academic center has supported over 100 legal tech startups and expects to welcome between six and 12 new startups for the fall 2023 cohort of its Justice Tech Accelerator program.
LexLab will accept applications through July 31 for its inaugural group and says on its website its goal is to support startups that will “positively impact individuals and communities affected by the justice system and the access-to-justice gap.”
The 10-week program runs from September through November. According to a June 8 news release, it will “address issues unique to the justice tech sector,” including regulatory hurdles, product development, marketing and fundraising. The cohort will hone pitches, attend weekly meetings and events and receive mentorship. The program ends with a “Demo Day,” in which startups can show off their work to investors and the justice tech community, according to the program website.
LexLab’s program is being offered in partnership with the nonprofit trade organization Justice Technology Association; global venture company gener8tor; and Village Capital, which has supported dozens of startups.
“There is a huge need to increase the availability and quality of legal services and tools in both the criminal and civil justice systems,” said Drew Amerson, the director of LexLab, in prepared remarks. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with these amazing organizations in welcoming justice tech startups to the UC Law SF community, giving our students an opportunity to work with entrepreneurs committed to addressing the justice gap.”
Sonja Ebron, a founding member of the Justice Technology Association and a 2023 ABA Journal Legal Rebel, says her startup Courtroom5 “benefited tremendously” from participating in the LexisNexis Legal Tech Accelerator and Duke Law Tech Lab. She hopes that the Justice Tech Accelerator will have a similar impact.
“All of those experiences were helpful for getting us where we are today. The availability of a justice tech focused accelerator is really going to help grow the ecosystem and attract many more entrepreneurs into the space,” Ebron says.
Maya Markovich, executive director of the Justice Technology Association, says justice tech companies face “unique challenges” navigating the regulatory landscape. Once the cohort is in place, the program will identify the issues that each startup is facing and “fine-tune” the curriculum to their needs, she says.
Elizabeth Nguyen, economic opportunity practice lead at Village Capital, says there are many more justice tech founders that need support to widen access to justice in civil and criminal systems.
“Ultimately, the North Star of what we’re doing is supporting founders and supporting the communities that they serve,” Nguyen says.