We are so pleased to welcome Eric Krawczyk, our newest Paladino, to the team. Hailing from Detroit, Eric is our third Midwesterner and first Michigander! He joins us as a Senior Software Engineer with a full stack portfolio — building user-facing functionality as well as backend infrastructure to help solve problems for our customers and partners.

We asked Eric a few questions to learn more about him.

Welcome Eric! Tell us about your background.

Thank you, I’m thrilled to be here! I moved around a lot growing up, (pick a cardinal direction in the US and I’ve probably lived there) but since then I’ve settled down in Detroit, MI. Professionally I’ve mostly worked with early- and growth-stage startups serving very niche B2B spaces. In my spare time I volunteer with a local organization that provides medical and logistical support to community events, partnering with local legal and political organizations to plan direct actions against evictions and police brutality, with the broader goal of promoting political reform. While my experience in the legal space is admittedly limited, I’m excited to learn more about the domain and confident that my experience both as a product engineer and as an activist can push Paladin and the legal-tech ecosystem forward.

What drew you to Paladin?

To put it plainly, the mission and the people. After working in tech for a while, I started to lose my passion for building tools that provided limited social value. I think Paladin is in a position to not only offer incredible business value to pro-bono programs and legal services organizations, but also to directly support and improve people’s lives. When meeting the team, I could tell that everyone at Paladin legitimately cares about helping underserved communities, and has been intentional about building a collaborative, diverse, and non-toxic culture to achieve those goals.

Why is access to justice important to you?

Justice is a broader concept than just legal representation. Even in the past year alone, here in Detroit I’ve personally seen people get brutally arrested for peacefully protesting, people evicted from their decades-old homes, and people in my neighborhood being threatened with deportation. Almost none of these people can afford to go through the legal system without external support, but seeing organizations like the National Lawyers Guild, Detroit Justice Center, and Michigan Liberation rise to help out really inspired me to contribute to something that can empower local ecosystems like these on a national (or even international) level.

What role do you think software engineers can play in building a better future?

Humans are increasingly living in digital environments, and while business and product leadership often shape how those environments function, I believe software engineers have a duty to build these systems with empathy and human interest. Engineers can and should voice ethical concerns with the products they build. Software has the potential to contribute enormously to equitable and democratic systems, but that goal requires intentionality, collaboration, and empathy.

Where do you see the biggest opportunities for Paladin’s products and technology?

Right now, the process for law firms and LSO’s to form relationships and collaborate on opportunities happens offline and involves a lot of administrative and communication overhead. Paladin has the capacity to build a centralized platform that empowers local organizations to create networks with each other, facilitate communication, and handle a lot of the logistics so that those organizations can focus on what they do best.

Desert island: one album, one book, one movie.

I usually find it impossible to pick favorites, but if I were stranded on an island:

  • Album: Parcels — Parcels
  • Book: The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — Douglas Adams
  • Movie: Castaway, for solidarity

What are you most looking forward to in your new role?

Building tools that have legitimate human impact. If something I build is able to help even one person get the justice they deserve, I would be absolutely ecstatic.

Which GIF best represents how you feel about building justice tech?

Meet Eric Krawczyk- Paladin’s Newest Engineer! was originally published in Paladin on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.