With law offices and court buildings closed or limited because of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has never been a better time to be providing law services online. Byron Batres, who runs a company that helps families complete the probate process virtually, says he has more work than he can handle.
“The lawyers are virtually out of business right now; the courts are closed for regular hearings,” said Batres, who normally runs his company, EZ-Probate, out of the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies or VCET, a co-working space in Burlington.
“Most lawyers are paper-based and in-person based,” said Batres. “What customer wants to go to an attorney right now?”
But Batres is facing complaints that he’s practicing law without a license. He said he received a letter from California Bar to that effect April 28.
Batres created a system he describes as “Turbo Tax-like” for probate and worked for his first paying customer — someone in Colorado who had found him online — in January 2017.
He expanded the company after a LaunchVT startup competition in 2018. (EZ-Probate also was a finalist for a 2018 Vermont Tech Jam Award, presented by the vtTA). He said he ultimately raised $575,000 because of the exposure he got there, and two judges from the competition became investors. He said the company now has six employees, three of them full-time.