Taproot Law

Taproot Law

Human-Centered Legal Advocates

With our roots in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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Green Space: Innovators Gonna Innovate with Justin Carlson (Marquette)

This week in Marquette, SISU at Northern Michigan University and Innovate Marquette are celebrating Innovation Week, which inspired me to write about innovation at Taproot and with colleagues in the community. It’s also the last week we are covering the things we love, and we are going to finish with our ideas and businesses and how Taproot has created innovative legal services that are here to help you now! 

I interviewed Justin Carlson, who lives in Marquette and is from Negaunee. He is the founder of Invivus Technologies, which he started to help solve complex chronic health conditions through community building and the development of new technology. His main product is CIRSMap, which addresses Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), also known as mold/biotoxin illness, a condition he has been recovering from for the last several years.

 

As you may remember, I’m also recovering from a chronic illness. My experience navigating the health system allowed me to see my clients’ experiences in a different light, too. As a result, I created Taproot which delivers legal advice through ½ – hour coaching sessions. Obviously, I had to talk to Justin when I heard about him. Check out what Justin is building, and how he’s found guidance with legal questions along the way! 

Erica

I want to talk about how you deliver services. It seems to me that you’re providing a type of wellness coaching. We’ve taken up coaching too! Why did you choose this method of service delivery? Are you having success? 

Justin

I started health coaching on the side when the number of DMs I was getting from people in my online community and elsewhere became unsustainable for me to be able to keep up. It was the only way I could prioritize who to help and allowed me to put more time and effort into helping the people who needed it most.

My main coaching service is a 45-minute CIRS Accelerator session, which is designed to help clients avoid the most common pitfalls to healing, find the right doctor, and also gain some general information on foundational nutrition and therapies that can help “fast-track” their healing. Basically, all the things I wish I would have known two years ago! So far it’s been very successful–my first client was thrilled and told me I should raise my rates, which is always a good sign!

Ultimately, my goal is to create a CIRSMap product that allows people to get all the information they need, personalized specifically to them, quickly and efficiently at a relatively low cost. I do enjoy working one-on-one with clients, but that isn’t scalable when there are potentially millions of people who could benefit.

Erica

How are you able to scale your services or reach those potentially millions of people?

Justin

Currently, our services are offered in the form of our free online community (hosted on Discord), free informational resources on our website, and our experimental CIRS Prediction Quiz which is also free on our website. As our data set grows we will be rolling out a paid AI chatbot that will be able to provide patients with helpful information in a much quicker and more efficient manner than what is currently available. We are also developing an app prototype that will directly serve CIRS patients.

All of my work is done remotely and our community is made up of people from around the world.

Erica

As an innovator, you’re coming up with new ideas to solve problems and hopefully make a living from selling those solutions. Have you needed legal help along the way? How has that experience been?

Justin

We haven’t needed “traditional” legal help just yet, however, we have used ChatGPT quite a bit to understand the lay of the land and things we should be aware of. The experience with that was surprisingly positive. When I was building out the framework for the CIRSMap Community, I put a priority on making sure we have clear rules, a clear privacy policy, and terms of use. This has led to a smoother experience for all community members and assured that we are following good practices from a legal standpoint. Of course, as we grow we will have a greater need for legal guidance.

Erica

How will you know when it’s time for more involved legal help?

Justin

So far, we have leveraged a lot of information from ChatGPT which we then cross-referenced with other information available online to create the bulk of our disclaimers and policies and the language we use surrounding the information we provide. We started as a very small community of just ten people and have gradually scaled up our attention to legal exposure as our user base and services have grown. We also used services like Termly to help create a foundation for our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use.

We are working on building an app that involves (in part) user health data, and so we have been researching and talking to other apps that are similar to ours from a data perspective but serve different markets about how they’ve handled various potential legal concerns–especially GDPR and HIPAA. At some point before we launch we will need legal services to make sure we are fully compliant and using best practices.

Erica

That’s smart! As you scale up, your risks increase, and along that increase is where more involved legal services come in. Do you have a hot issue that is on your radar that you think will require legal advice from a human?

Justin

The data use and privacy aspects will be the biggest need. We take this issue very seriously and will do what is necessary to ensure we are on solid legal standing, not just for our benefit but for our users to be able to understand clearly what data we are using and how we are using it and give them as much control as possible over their privacy.

We are also working on trademarking CIRSMap and protecting our name and branding assets, and I understand there are a few different routes we can take with that.

Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

Final thoughts. 

Even across different topics and disciplines, businesses like CIRSMap and Taproot are drawing on personal experiences to identify new markets or unmet needs in existing markets. These experiences also have motivated us to innovate – to take apart, study, reorganize, and repackage traditional solutions and deliver them through (1) reliable products and (2) a specific coaching space. Through iteration and feedback, we are constantly learning and improving. 

Thanks for sharing a part of your experience, Justin! 

Up Next

We’re constantly innovating at Taproot and inspired by my conversation with Justin, we’ll be talking about how we’re addressing the problem of “legal deserts” in the UP later this week–stay tuned for more!

Let’s connect!

The Green Space series has been a really fun way to connect with and learn from community members and we want to keep building our community! If you are interested in contributing to this series or know someone who might be, let us know by emailing Ann at ann@taprootadvocates.com with the subject matter: Green Space.

Check out upcoming Taproot events!

February 24: Make a Will Workshop at Rock River Township Library in Chatham, 10 a.m. EST. RSVP to hello@taprootadvocates.com.

March 6: Law Decoded at Gallery Coffee, Munising, 10-11 a.m. EST

March 21: Watch Erica on Ask the Lawyers on WNMU-TV, 8 p.m. EST

April 12: Law Decoded at Alpha Michigan Brewing Company, Alpha, 7 p.m. EST