Many things can change over a year in the life of a startup; Courtroom 5 is no exception.

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Image for post
Debra Slone (left) and Sonja Ebron (right) outside the Wake County Courthouse in Raleigh, North Carolina

Just over a year has passed since Sonja Ebron and Debra Slone, co-founders of Courtroom5, won the $5,000 grand prize at the 2019 Duke Law Tech Lab Demo Day.

In that time, Courtroom5 also participated in several other high-profile accelerators: first, the LexisNexis Legal Tech Accelerator in 2019 and then Techstars Kansas City in 2020, where they raised $120,000.

Sonja and Debra continue to be recognized for their innovative company that helps people go to court without a lawyer. Just a week after the Duke Law Tech Lab Demo Day, they took home the grand prize at the 2019 Black Founders Exchange Demo Day in Durham, hosted by American Underground and Google for Startups. Additionally, this fall Courtroom5 was among 76 recipients of the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, receiving $50,000 in non-dilutive funding as part of a total $5 million being awarded nationally to startups led by Black founders. …


This piece was written by 2020 Duke Law Tech Lab Student Manager, Luis Basurto Villanueva and Managing Director, Kelli Raker.

As part of the the Duke Law Tech Lab, an accelerator for early-stage legal tech companies with a mission to increase access to justice, we provide unique content for our founders on a variety of topics to help them grow their company. In 2020, we included the role of thought leadership for legal tech entrepreneurs.

Thought Leader vs. Expert

To some, the term “thought leader” may be a difficult concept and perhaps even seem pompous. Why use this idea instead of ‘expert’?

In the nascent field of mission-driven legal tech (also called #justicetech, #civictech, or #A2Jlegaltech — we can’t even agree on terminology!), the term “thought leader” recognizes the increasing democratization of the traditional modes of expertise.

In short, thought leadership is the sharing of ideas to make real-world change.


This article is part of our series featuring the founders of our 2020 Duke Law Tech Lab startups, early-stage legal tech companies with a mission to increase access to justice. Written by Justin Reinking (Duke Law JD ’22).

Public service is Jared Jaskot’s northern star.

Jared spent two years in El Salvador as a member the Peace Corps. After graduating from Georgetown University Law Center, Jared then served as a public defender in Baltimore for five years. Jared eventually opened his own immigration-focused law firm and primarily helps people fleeing violence in Central America.

Jared Jaskot
Jared Jaskot
Jared Jaskot

As an immigration attorney, Jared saw first-hand the difficulty many immigrants face when seeking access to justice. For example, 80 percent of individuals in immigration court do not have a lawyer. The fees for asylum-related work are extremely high and many firms who are dedicated to helping people still struggle to meet the needs of all immigrants. Also, millions of immigrants do not receive the legal work that they qualify for because they are too scared, do not enough money, or do not have time to wait to speak with an attorney. …


This article is part of our series featuring the founders of our 2020 Duke Law Tech Lab startups, early-stage legal tech companies with a mission to increase access to justice. Written by Justin Reinking (Duke Law JD ’22).

A black and white flow chart showing a plaintiff’s guide to small claims court in California.
A black and white flow chart showing a plaintiff’s guide to small claims court in California.
A Plaintiff’s Guide to Small Claims Court in California

As an attorney, Camila Lopez frequently received calls from friends and family asking for help with their disputes. As many of the disputes involved security deposits, property damage, and contractors Camila referred most people to the small claims process. However, she began to realize that self-represented litigants were often disadvantaged in the process due to disorganization and a lack of legal knowledge. …


This article is part of our series featuring the founders of our 2020 Duke Law Tech Lab startups, early-stage legal tech companies with a mission to increase access to justice. Written by Justin Reinking (Duke Law JD ’22).

Devshi Mehrotra and Leslie Jones-Dove founded JusticeText to help public defenders manage video evidence more efficiently and effectively.

Devshi Mehrotra and Leslie Jones-Dove in cap and gown standing outside next to a tree.
Devshi Mehrotra and Leslie Jones-Dove in cap and gown standing outside next to a tree.
Devshi Mehrotra and Leslie Jones-Dove

As students at the University of Chicago, Devshi and Leslie became increasingly aware of the inadequate resources available to public defenders. Public defenders have always faced significant time constraints due to their high volume of cases. …


This article is part of our series featuring the founders of our 2020 Duke Law Tech Lab startups, early-stage legal tech companies with a mission to increase access to justice. Written by Justin Reinking (Duke Law JD ’22).

Everybody knows somebody who has a problem collecting back child support. Don’t believe me? Go out and shake your friend and family tree and I guarantee someone will fall out. Point them to Don’t Get Mad Get Paid because they need your help. Don’t Get Mad Get Paid was built by a mom for moms with a very specific problem.

Who is the mom behind Don’t Get Mad Get Paid?

Meet Simone Spence, CEO/Founder. …


By Kelli Raker, Managing Director, Duke Law Tech Lab

All year round, we talk to entrepreneurs with legal tech solutions about what they’re working on and whether the Duke Law Tech Lab might be the right fit for them. The choice to join an accelerator program is not one that any legal tech company should take lightly.

Of course, our conversation covers many factors. Some founders are just starting out with their idea, others have been working on their startup as a side job for a long time, and still others are full-time.

Apply to an accelerator in handwriting
Apply to an accelerator in handwriting

Several factors make the Duke Law Tech Lab different from other accelerators. We focus on early-stage companies with a mission to increase access to legal services. As companies in our cohort pilot their beta products with early users, we leverage our networks to provide unique content and help founders connect with industry leaders and organizations. We don’t take equity, and our program has been remote since 2016 in order to be accessible nationally. …

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Duke Law Tech Lab

Accelerating legal tech startups with a mission to increase access to justice

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