Law, Small Business & Startups, and Technology

Startup develops platform for legal process

December 26, 2014
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Divorce Buddy
Divorce Buddy is one of the brands being developed by the startup Legal Buddy. Photo via divorcebuddy.co

A startup is developing an online platform to connect people to legal advice, documents and resources as they move through the legal process.

Start Garden, the $15-million seed fund in downtown Grand Rapids, said last week that it has made an initial $5,000 investment in Legal Buddy.

The platform would help users “simplify” their legal matters, while walking them through each step of the legal process.

Legal Buddy would help connect people with experts by leveraging a network of legal professionals, mediators, therapists and other professionals.

Jeremy Kossen, founder of Legal Buddy, said the platform would provide users with access to legal advice when needed, rather than their hiring an attorney for the entire process.

“It’s basically life’s legal matters simplified, and it kind of came out of my own personal experiences,” Kossen said. “Anything you are doing in terms of legal matters — whether it is creating a startup company or going through something contentious like divorce — there are all these different steps, and when you incur the litigation costs, it can be extremely expensive. We take you through step by step.”

There are 14 people involved with the startup, including five developers on the team, according to Kossen.

Buddy brands

Legal Buddy has a number of products in development: Divorce Buddy, Startup Buddy and Bankruptcy Buddy.

“The initial product is actually Divorce Buddy, because, unfortunately, divorce is contentious, and we think unnecessarily so,” Kossen said. “We take more of a non-adversarial approach, so our target market is basically the two-thirds of people who are representing themselves pro per and don’t really know how to go through the process.”

The Divorce Buddy platform was developed to incorporate a network of mediators and therapists throughout the process to not only simplify the legal process, but also minimize conflict.

Using a freemium model of providing basic business services for free and offering select services for a monthly charge, Kossen said users would pay $25 a month at the premium level, while professionals would pay between $25 and $50 for additional sponsorships and promotional advertising.

Next steps

Legal Buddy will use the Start Garden funds for the first part of the Divorce Buddy launch in early January, which includes an informational and supportive community website and a directory of legal professionals and mediators.

The long-term vision for the Legal Buddy platform includes developing a mobile version and using the products as a collaborative tool for both consumers and legal professionals.

“We are extremely excited,” Kossen said. “It is definitely validation and also supporting the ecosystem here. I am from Silicon Valley originally, and my fiancée is from Grand Rapids, so we go back and forth. It is great in terms of building out our team here and also working with great people here locally and good advisors. Here it is much more authentic and emerging, so it is more like the early, fun days of Silicon Valley.”

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