Earlier this year my partner Maya Shino and I co-founded the non-profit website LawSpot (www.lawspot.org.nz). It has been 2 months into the journey and I'm glad to say that it has been one of the most gratifying startup experiences I've had to date.
In a nutshell, LawSpot is a online legal question and answer website where qualified lawyers answer questions, posted by the general public, about New Zealand law for free. We were inspired to create this site after seeing the great work done by the community law centres around the country and felt that their service would be greatly complemented and enhanced by an online presence.
Here's a few salient points about LawSpot:
- Strategic partnership: LawSpot has partnered with the Wellington Community Law Centre to promote access to the law by creating an online branch to cater to unmet legal needs.
- All Star Team: in addition to Maya and myself, we have Paul Bartrum to head up technology (who is a star developer at Trade Me), Lizzie Chan to head up partnership (who is a finalist in the Young New Zealander of the Year 2012 and is clerking at the Supreme Court of New Zealand) and James Whitaker to head up marketing (who is Trade Me's marketing manager).
- Everyone Wins: users get answers to the legal questions they wouldn’t know where to find. The information is accessible online, anytime, for free. At the same time, the lawyer volunteers will be protected from legal liability in the same way as they are when they sign up to give advice at a community law centre.
- Patron: We are incredibly honoured to have Hon Margaret Wilson DCNZM as LawSpot’s patron. Margaret is a former Attorney-General and Speaker of the House, and is a strong advocate for social justice and increasing New Zealanders’ access to the law.
The LawSpot team combines the years of practical experience from the Community Law Centre with technology-savvy and technically capable entrepreneurs. I really believe this is the way of the future for social enterprises, i.e. applying the no-nonsense execution abilities of the commercial world in the non-profit context, to ensure projects are setup and ran as efficiently and effectively as possible.
We're a few weeks away from a soft launch of the pilot and we are incredibly excited about the potential of LawSpot to increase accessibility to the law for all New Zealanders. You can express your interest by leaving your email at www.lawspot.org.nz and we'll make sure that you'll be the first to know when we launch!