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This startup streamlines the pro bono work of lawyers, including those fighting for immigrants at the border

Felicity Conrad and Kristen Sonday were on very different paths until three years ago. Conrad was an associate at the powerhouse law firm Skadden Arps. Meanwhile, Sonday, a Princeton grad and the first person in her family to go to college, was reflecting on the several years she’d spent with the U.S. Department of Justice in Mexico City, working to extradite fugitives. As it happens, both were coming to similar conclusions about the U.S. legal system, including that it’s especially challenging for people who don’t speak English. For Conrad, an opportunity to litigate a pro bono asylum case would set her on a path of wanting to do more for people fleeing persecution from their own countries. For Sonday, the experience of working with foreign governments had a similar impact. Perhaps it’s no wonder that soon after they were introduced by a mutual friend, they decided to create Paladin, a New York-based SaaS business that today helps legal teams sign up for pro bono opportunities, enables coordinators to track the lawyers’ work, and which captures some of the stories and impact that the lawyers are making through their efforts. This last piece is particularly important, as the software helps legal departments see the return on investment for their attorneys’ donated time. The company’s offering is timely, including for legal departments like that of Verizon, which has 900 attorneys and a global pro bono program that it uses Paladin to help manage. (Verizon owns AOL, which owns TechCrunch.) Lyft, a newer client, has a 50-person legal department and recently launched its own pro bono team. Given how quickly immigration and other policies are being changed under the Trump administration and uneven guidance from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the need for legal help is growing by the day. For example, Lyft — which is among a long line of tech companies to speak out in support of immigrants’ rights — is committing some of its lawyers to reuniting families that have been separated at the southern U.S. border, says Conrad. One question is how scalable Paladin’s offering is. The biggest challenge for the…

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