Working in marketing and communications for a large plaintiff law firm, Andrew Montesi regularly saw people not being able to access justice because of high legal costs.
After one particular case that stood out to him, he decided to do something about it.
“We were in contact with a potentially interesting case but there was that cost factor,” Montesi says. “I thought the issue would suit crowdfunding and l looked for a platform to raise legal costs, but I couldn’t find one.”
So he built one himself.
His startup Casefunder is a crowdfunding platform tailored specifically for raising money to go towards legal costs. It’s an effort to combat Australia’s problem with the often unaffordable cost of legal services in Australia, Montesi says.
“The cost of justice is much more than just legal fees, there’s a whole system of things involved,” he says. “This is a different solution to the cost of justice problem.”
The site works in a similar way to other crowdfunding platforms like KickStarter and Pozible. Users can upload a campaign and describe their story and legal issues, and provide a funding goal and deadline. Casefunder will then assess the credibility of the campaign, and if it is approved, other users can contribute and receive rewards in return. If the campaign is successful, money will only be transferred once a verified lawyer has been nominated.
Like other sites, Casefunder will be taking a portion of the money raised in each campaign, but Montesi says he’s open to other methods of monetisation.
“We’re looking for a magic mix of a great story, great rewards that capture the imagination of people, and a viable business model as well,” he says.
Ensuring the money raised actually goes towards legal costs is obviously a major concern, and Montesi says this is the reason why the site is still in soft-launch mode.
“That’s so we can really manage it and control who is receiving the money and verify their situation,” he says. “It’s certainly not just a free-for-all.”