Written by Vibhu Gairola
Christien Levien, co-founder
What does Legalswipe do, and why did you start it?
Legalswipe is an app that educates users on their legal rights. When I was doing legal rights workshops in law school, I found that attendees had difficulty understanding a lot of the material. I thought an app might make things easier. I wanted to address the knowledge gap in community education around legal rights. This doesn’t just affect marginalised communities, it really affects society as a whole.
What kind of responses have you seen from your target audience?
We’ve found that our users come from a variety of ages and backgrounds and nobody really has an understanding of their rights as they pertain to the police. The feedback has been so good that we’ve expanded our operations, and with the assistance of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, we’ve been able to set up technology-based legal rights workshops here in Toronto.
What’s your favourite part about working in the civic tech ecosystem?
Seeing a community becoming more engaged, more knowledgeable, and better able to protect itself.
What advice would you give to anyone trying to do something similar to you?
Start small. Tackle something simple and build it based on your users’ needs and feedback.
What can we expect from Legalswipe in the future?
We have a huge partnership in the works to expand beyond criminal law; we’ll be announcing more information in the last quarter of 2017.
What would you say is the most underrated thing about Toronto, and why?
Toronto is a great startup hub with a lot of outstanding incubators. We’re part of the Legal Innovation Zone here at the DMZ. There are many other incubators like ours that are invested in developing the scene right here in the city.
If you had to describe Toronto as a food, what would it be?
Fried plantains. They’re filling, they’re really sweet, and everyone loves them!