For Legal Aid Organizations, Upsolve Offers a Way to Do Bankruptcies 10 Times Faster and Help More People
Dubbed as a “TurboTax for bankruptcy,” Upsolve is an up-and-comer in the burgeoning legal tech scene and increasingly popular among LSC grantees.
The organization’s mission is to help low-income Americans in financial distress get a fresh start through Chapter 7 bankruptcy at no cost. Founded by Rohan Pavuluri and Jonathan Petts and launched this January, Upsolve’s software slashes the time it takes legal aid organizations to help someone file for bankruptcy from about 9 or 10 hours to 90 minutes. (For more information on Upsolve and how to use it, see its “Legal Aid On-Boarding Guide.”)
Upsolve and LSC grantees
One LSC grantee that has benefited from working with Upsolve and using its software is Community Legal Aid in Ohio.
Like many other legal aid organizations, Community Legal Aid doesn’t have enough resources to provide bankruptcy services in all of its counties. According to its executive director, Steven McGarrity, the organization gets more than 1,200 requests for bankruptcy support annually—more requests than it can fulfill.
So, starting in January, Community Legal Aid started working with Upsolve. Crain’s Cleveland Business wrote about Community Legal Aid’s partnership with Upsolve in May. Between January and then, Community Legal Aid applied limited scope representation and Upsolve to 10 cases and had about 30 more such cases lined up. On top of that, a training session in March attracted about 20 new volunteers to learn about the program.
As mentioned in the Crain’s article, McGarrity is hopeful that partnering with Upsolve can help Community Legal Aid increase the number of bankruptcy clients it helps by 50 percent.
Upsolve itself similarly has high hopes. It estimates that 20 million Americans could benefit from their technology and do the bankruptcy process themselves without needing to be represented by a lawyer.
And it has gotten the outcomes to justify those ambitions. From January to July, 1,200 people have used Upsolve to see if they quality for bankruptcy and 250 people have entered their pipeline. Effectively, they’ve erased more than $5 million in debt.
They’ve also expanded to now partner with 15 legal aid organizations in 14 states. Among them are several LSC grantees: Community Legal Aid, Neighborhood Legal Services Association, Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, Bay Area Legal Aid, Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Idaho Legal Aid Services, South Jersey Legal Services, Nevada Legal Services, Legal Action of Wisconsin, and Community Legal Services.
Upsolve has visited all of these grantees and trained their executive directors, bankruptcy attorneys, and paralegals. It also provides trainings for pro bono attorneys. Case in point: Upsolve did a three-hour continuing legal education (CLE) training for pro bono attorneys in Akron for Community Legal Aid.
Partnering with Upsolve
Organizations can make referrals to Upsolve for free, and Upsolve is actively looking for organizations to link to its service on their websites. If an organization wants to track the progress of the clients it sends to Upsolve, there is a $5,000 annual license. Interested legal aid organizations can get in touch with Upsolve to learn more about its platform and join the 15 that have already partnered up.
Going back to the goals of the nascent organization, Upsolve wants everyone across the country, the millions who can’t afford an attorney, to have access to and use the software. While Upsolve is just beginning, their promising start — they’re funded by Robin Hood, the Public Welfare Foundation, and ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s foundation, in addition to LSC — has stirred excitement in legal aid.
LSC grantees interested in partnering with Upsolve should email Rohan@upsolve.org.