Stephen Kane is the founder and CEO of FairClaims, which was launched in 2015. The company’s offers include digital arbitration, mediation and smart settlement tools. By potentially keeping claims out of courts and dramatically reducing the cost of resolution, FairClaims can save litigants court time and resources. That frees the court and lawyers to focus on complex disputes, and give litigants real access to justice. Kane also is a Fellow at CodeX: The Stanford Center for Legal Informatics.
Justice Ecosystem asked Kane nine questions:
1. Since your launch in 2015, you have changed the name of your company, raised money and added people to the team. How is FairClaims helping courts, lawyers and litigants now?
Stephen Kane: We changed our name from ArbiClaims to FairClaims in part because we now do more than digital arbitration — and in part because it’s a much better name.
FairClaims has three options (per claim) for enterprise pilot programs:
- Digital arbitration, $225 to $275;
- Mediated chat, $150; and
- FairChat smart settlement tool, $5.00-$15.00.
2. What are the biggest challenges for the courts in regard to FairClaims?
Stephen Kane: Enforcement. They’re not used to seeing $1,200 confirmation of arbitration award petitions. It takes a lot of work, but some courts are starting to catch on, and we’re doing more outreach on that front. It’s a major net-positive for them to put resources into enforcing some of the claims that go through FairClaims since they’re still saving time and resources on the overwhelming majority of our cases where respondents pay out on arbitration awards without the need for enforcement.
3. What are the benefits for the courts?
Stephen Kane: We help unclog a congested system that’s had to do more with less over the years. Over time, as we settle more small-claim disputes, the courts can reinvest their resources into other critical, underserved areas.
4. How does FairClaim help lawyers?
Stephen Kane: We help in-house counsel resolve their companies’ small-claim disputes (with customers, vendors and others) much quicker and easier while also reducing risk and mitigating backlash.
5. What does it cost for the lawyers and litigants? Do the courts pay for anything?
Stephen Kane: Nothing usually, because companies pay for our software and services most of the time. After an initial three-to-six-month pilot, companies pay a bucketed monthly fee, based on volume, use cases and return on investment. The courts don’t pay anything — they put resources towards enforcement, but the enforcing party pays a fee for that and that fee can be recovered if the award is confirmed.
6. What type of cases are most likely to “fit” with FairClaims?
Stephen Kane: Any monetary dispute under $25,000, including customer, vendor, contractor and unpaid invoice disputes — and some non-monetary disputes such as re-doing work and disagreements over the veracity of a social media or professional review.
7. What is your current funding? Are you seeking more?
Stephen Kane: We’ve raised about $2 million to date from Greycroft, Fika and Crosslink, plus angels like Brian Liu (a founder of LegalZoom). We will be raising more money soon — likely a Series A round in 2018.
8. What are your goals for FairClaims in 2018 and 2020?
Stephen Kane: We want 2018 to be a breakout year for us within the legal industry and beyond. We want to continue to recruit great talent, round out the product and break into new industries. (We’ve mostly operated in the on-demand sharing economy space to date). By 2020, we want FairClaims to be a normal part of life — when you have a dispute in 2020, it’ll be natural to think of FairClaims as an efficient, trusted option for resolving things and moving on.
9. Online dispute resolution has been tried before, why might it work now?
Stephen Kane: The world is finally ready for it, thanks to companies like LegalZoom, Avvo and the pioneering Nolo, as well as others who get people comfortable with online law — and now that everything’s in the cloud. And sharing economy companies are the perfect early adopters for building something like this.
So, we stand on the shoulders of giants and benefit from great timing. It’s happening!