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Justice For All: How one Indonesian startup aims to democratise legal advice from as low as US$3

"Keep learning and unlearning, and keep listening to your users." CEO and Co-Founder Melvin Sumapung of Justika shares his most important values as an entrepreneur aiming to improve access to legal services for those in need.

CEO and Co-Founder Melvin Sumapung of Justika, a legal services marketplace.

Help-seeking for legal matters has always been daunting to the uninitiated. From property laws to business contract agreements, getting affordable and timely support for legal issues has always seemed insurmountable to the layperson until now. Justika, an Indonesian legal-tech startup co-founded by Melvin Sumapung in 2021, aims to significantly improve access to justice for Indonesians by offering a legal services marketplace that connects an inquirer to a lawyer for as low as US$3 for 30 minutes. And they are just getting started.

CEO and Co-Founder Melvin Sumapung is a technology product professional with extensive experience with business strategy. As one of the trailblazers in the Indonesian legal-tech scene, he launched one of the first AI-based legal research tools in 2017 and have been actively engaged in this sector since. One of his driving purposes is to providing significant value to the people around him. Through Justika, which he credits as his greatest success thus far, he was able to achieve this purpose at scale. Because success, for Sumapung, means “creating something that is truly of value”. With more than thousands of users receiving help on the Justika platform, Sumapong hopes to continuously improve the value of the legal services platform to users, to support the legal industry and improve legal access to those in need.

The importance of “value” is also firmly a significant part of Sumapung’s personal moral code. When asked about the principles that he holds dear, Sumapung lists the importance of being kind and helpful to people, and of creating genuine value for others. At the same time, he emphasises the importance of being willing to “unlearn even your strongest belief” and engage with issues with as much objectivity as possible. As a seasoned start-up entrepreneur, such a lesson seems hard-won, particularly when he recounted a significant setback around staffing. “Being realistic and rational when it comes to a decision”, he revealed, was a key theme when asked about his takeaway from that episode, as was the need to be “on the ground” and engaged with the product and the team.

As a parting note, Sumapung offered this gem of an insight that has served him well in his growing success, “Try to always have your back against the wall, therefore you may be laser-focused and quick in decisions”. Amidst the many setbacks faced as a startup entrepreneur, from staffing decisions to sacrificing one’s salary, Sumapung’s clarity of vision for Justika and his goal to improve affordable access to legal aid shines through.

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