Miami-based Court Buddy plans to raise $1 million to reach more ‘Forgottens’

This past weekend, Court Buddy, the legal startup founded by Florida natives Kristina and James Jones, won the Silicon Valley Forum’s first annual Women In Tech competition. It’s a sign the Miami-born startup is on its way to much bigger things.

What is it?

Court Buddy connects lawyers with people who need them, for an initial flat fee. It’s a way for people with modest means to get legal help, and for lawyers to get their name out into the market.

Founded in 2015, the company now has more than $200,000 in recurring revenue, and has made 10,000 successful matches.

In February, Court Buddy was chosen to enter 500 Startups, the San Francisco-based four-month business accelerator, at a valuation of $2.5 million.

Who’s behind it?

The company was born when James Jones, a lawyer, and his wife Kristina Jones, whose background is in advertising, realized how many people were struggling to find affordable legal help — and how many lawyers were struggling to find clients.

“There are 129 million ‘Forgottens,’ we call them, who go to court alone, intimidated, because they can’t afford a traditional law firm’s hourly rate,” James Jones said.

At the same time, James said, many lawyers come out of law school not knowing how to turn their knowledge into a living.

“Law school doesn’t teach you how to market yourself,” he said.

They launched in Miami, with James focusing on business operations and Kristina focusing on marketing.

They’ve since won numerous awards, including the People’s Choice Award for the 2015 Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, the 2016 American Entrepreneurship Award, and the 2017 American Bar Association’s Award for Legal Access.

What’s next?

The Joneses told Startup.Miami that they will soon begin raising a seed round of funding worth $1 million — and the win at the Silicon Valley Forum could prove a huge milestone for doing so, since it garnered them huge exposure, especially to potential investors, a group James said is still lacking en masse in Miami.

“In San Francisco, it’s been world of difference in terms of access to capital and fundraise,” he said.

The Joneses believe their model can scale internationally, and they’ve already garnered interest from parties in Brazil and Canada.

“Since starting Court Buddy, we realized [legal access] is not just a Miami a problem,” Kristina said.

By Rob Wile
Rob Wile, the curator for Startup.Miami, is a writer and entrepreneur living in Miami Beach. He’s a former staff writer for Fusion and Business Insider. His work has also appeared in Slate, Newsweek, Money Magazine and The New Tropic. He writes a newsletter on tech, business, and the South Florida economy called The Heatwave.