Dr. Sonja Ebron’s startup allows you to act as your own attorney if you can’t afford to hire one.
If you’re looking for compelling stories that combine entrepreneurial success with the challenges that come with diversity, then nothing better than the story of Founders Unfounded. The site tells the stories of founding startup entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds; It was started by Dan Kihanya, himself a serial entrepreneur. Currently, the site is focusing on companies and organizations founded by African Americans. Kihanya features each company and its founder in a one-hour podcast format.
This month, the wonderful Dr. Sonja Ebron, founder of Courtroom5, an automated legal toolbox that helps people represent themselves in courts of law, was highlighted. Abron is by no means a lawyer, however—the Durham native is a PhD electrical engineer with a background in utilities and artificial intelligence. Ebron and his co-founder, Debra Stone, began working on Courtroom 5 after years of prosecuting or suing others and not getting legal advice.
While studying to become an engineer, Ebron learned that the secret to success is finding new ways to get things done. After traveling the world and working in academia, he realized that this was not enough; Ebron looked for something that would allow him to make an impact. With his technical skills and Stone’s doctorate in information systems, he moved into the IT business with a focus on litigation support.
Ebron gave two simple reasons why he chose Courtroom 5 with civil litigation as his focus. First, many Americans can’t afford to hire a lawyer. The national average cost of a lawyer in the United States is $225 an hour, while the average hourly wage of a US citizen is less than $30. Second, people who have to represent themselves in court because they cannot afford an attorney often lose cases: the judicial process is difficult and complicated, and the average person has no formal training in judicial proceedings. .
This is where Courtroom 5 steps in. Launched in 2017, the startup allows you to track progress throughout the case and provides you with only the most relevant legal information, training and the tools you need to get to the next stage. Users gain access to a library of document templates, searchable case laws, analysis of claims and defenses—everything they need to navigate a system designed for lawyers. The service does charge a fee, but it is much less expensive than retaining an attorney.
In February, Courtroom 5 was selected as one of five companies to receive funding from global venture capitalist conglomerate SHEO.