Jason Tashea, the lawyer and former technology reporter for the ABA Journal, has joined an early-stage technology startup devoted to empowering pro se litigants in small claims cases.
Tashea is now product manager at Quest for Justice, a company formed last August with the goal of building an access-to-justice platform to enable self-represented plaintiffs and defendants in small claims cases to represent themselves more effectively and better navigate the system.
Until December, Tashea was a legal affairs and technology staff writer at the ABA Journal, which he joined in 2017. As he left the magazine last month, he published a column, Career Confessions of An Atypical Law School Graduate, in which he described his path from law school to legal technology — and, in particular, to using tech to address the access-to-justice gap.
“There has never been a more exciting moment to create a new path,” he wrote. “Within the wreckage that is the access-to-justice gap, there is opportunity.”
Quest for Justice was founded by Patrick N. Forrest, a lawyer and venture investor who is now the company’s chief strategy officer, and Binh Dang, a technology entrepreneur and investor who is now the company’s president.
The website of Quest for Justice says its platform will have five components:
- Case management, enabling litigants to use guided questionnaires to create legal documents and then track the progress of their cases.
- Case coaching and oversight, ensuring litigants file documents correctly and on time. Tashea said this would not entail legal advice, but rather be more like a legal navigator.
- Court communication, enabling litigants to get updates and information about their cases through the platform, via an API into the court system.
- Litigation support marketplace, where litigants will be able to find and employ providers of services such as service-of-process and translation.
- Legal knowledge database, providing resources to help litigants better understand the court system and their legal rights.
While development is in its early stages, Tashea said, the company expects to launch the platform by the end of this year. Initially, it will cover five counties in Southern California, but the company plans eventually to expand to other counties and other states.
The product will be priced on a freemium model, Tashea said. Access to the basic platform will be free and a litigant could go through an entire case without having to pay anything.
Litigants will pay for additional services provided through the marketplace, and Quest for Justice will earn a share of this.
Asked what attracted him to this position, Tashea said that he was excited by the prospect of working for such an early-stage company in the access-to-justice space.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions that we’ll have to work through — that the industry as a whole is working through — so the opportunity to be on the front line was too enticing to say no to.”