The University of Michigan – Making the Justice System more Accessible

Every year, as many as 75 million Americans cited for minor charges such as unpaid traffic fines are issued warrants—and forced to have their day in court. Typically, the experience is frustrating, confusing, timeconsuming and expensive.

But that could soon change, thanks to an online mediation system developed by a U-M law professor and his former student. The idea for Court Innovations took shape in 2011 when Professor J. J. Prescott and third-year law student Ben Gubernick began discussing social issues stemming from inefficient access to the courts. As Gubernick explains, “Ninety-five percent of the cases making their way through the justice system involve minor criminal offenses that allow judges and prosecutors to exercise their discretion.

“We created Court Innovations in order to target those cases. Our goal is to make the courts more accessible by enabling litigants to negotiate and settle their cases online, fairly and conveniently.”

Starting in 2013, the project received Venture Center assistance to secure gap funding for prototype development and business modeling. At the same time, Mentor-in-Residence Ken Spenser, a software company executive with more than 30 years of experience, was assigned to assist with venture creation services. With Spenser’s help, the team refined their value proposition, cultivated potential customers, strengthened their patent portfolio and hired CEO Mary Jo Cartwright […]

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