Paladin is an online platform designed to increase access to legal assistance for low-income individuals, while facilitating professional responsibility by lawyers through pro bono work. Paladin’s tech focused infrastructure is meant to streamline communications between the pro bono departments of law firms and the organizations looking for those services. New York-based and registered as a Public Benefit Corporation, Paladin has secured investments from a pool of 19 private investors, such as Mark Cuban, and organizations, raising over $12 million in funds in the last few years. The online software is distributed through a membership model and is free of charge for legal service organizations which provide cases for pro bono assistance, while law firms, corporations, and bar associations pay a monthly subscription fee. In April 2022, Paladin launched a Ukraine Pro Bono portal in response to the ongoing war to serve Ukrainians through free legal aid. The portal is being produced in partnership with the Legal Development Network (LDN), a group of Ukrainian community-based organizations that promotes people-centered justice, and LinGo, a non-profit social enterprise that focuses on promoting the public interest through legal innovations in Ukraine. Ukrainian clients in need of legal assistance will be able to use an online chatbot, Pravoman, to connect with LDN, which will provide relevant resources. The portal will also facilitate support needed for translation and humanitarian efforts.
The service grew in 2020 with the development of the Disaster Relief Pro Bono portal launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in partnership with Legal Services Corporation and the American Bar Association’s Disaster Legal Services Program as well as the legal tech companies Clio and LegalZoom, which funded the project. This portal was created to assist Americans who were facing unprecedented struggles due to the pandemic — such as unemployment benefits cases, family disputes, healthcare and education issues — with Paladin providing connection to free legal services to meet those needs.
Theory of Change
Using software to bridge the gap between those unable to afford legal services and lawyers providing pro bono assistance helps increase access to justice.
Paladin helps law firms streamline recruitment, ensures attorneys are interested in the cases they take, saves a significant amount of administrative time, and resolves other workflow issues, including data analysis about firms' pro bono programs. For legal-services organizations, the platform helps increase the visibility and the speed with which they can get their cases in front of the right attorneys. People receiving aid include: refugees, domestic violence survivors, low-income tenants, the unemployed, and veterans, among others. Lawyers belonging to firms with memberships have the ability to filter through different pro bono opportunities based on their skills and interests. After joining the platform, lawyers typically sign up for their first pro bono case within an hour and a half. Paladin has recently expanded to the UK through partnerships with six large law firms.
In their second quarter of 2020, Paladin saw an increase of 350% on debt & bankruptcy cases, 300% in education, and 233% in health, a reflection of the impact of COVID-19. Additionally, non profits and entrepreneurs made up about 30% of pro bono recipients. In 2021, they saw a 144% increase in total pro bono engagements (5% increase in racial justice and 7% increase in immigration). Paladin’s far reach has been enhanced through various partnerships with governments, schools, companies, and organizations, such as Verizon, Lyft, and Bloomberg Law. Additionally, they power pro bono management for over 30 of the world’s biggest law firms, corporations, and Bar associations. As the largest law firm in the world, Dentons was able to increase the number of pro bono cases by 37%, while Clifford Chance was able to increase pro bono hours by an incredible 93% in 2020. Paladin has cultivated a 125% net revenue retention with a 100% renewal rate.