While it’s unfortunate, it has been known to happen: You get in trouble, and before you know it, you have an arrest record, a charge, maybe even a conviction.

Most convictions remain on a person’s record, but Texas law allows individuals to permanently remove information about arrests, charges, or convictions from their public records under certain circumstances.

In Texas, this legal process is known as an expunction. Once a person’s record is expunged, all information is removed from the criminal record, and it appears as though the infraction never happened. For many, that means they are once again eligible to get hired despite a minor criminal past.

Palestinian refugee and Easy Expunctions CEO Yousef Kassim attended Trinity University and obtained his law degree from Saint Mary's Law School.
Easy Expunctions CEO Yousef Kassim attended Trinity University and obtained his law degree from Saint Mary’s Law School. Credit: Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / San Antonio Report

For people seeking expunctions, Easy Expunctions offers public data reports, background checks, and eligibility reports detailing what does and does not qualify for an expunction or nondisclosure using their service – all prior to the purchase of one of the company’s record-sweeping packages.

Yousef Kassim founded the legal startup in Austin in 2015. After graduating from Trinity University, Kassim attended St. Mary’s School of Law and earned his license to practice in 2014. In 2016, Easy Expunctions moved its headquarters to the Vogue Building in downtown San Antonio, a GrayStreet Partners property.

“We provide individuals with a clear path to a clear record. Our technology is designed for people who want a clean record, without paying thousands in lawyer fees,” Kassim said. “We are the only online legal software company creating technology focused on reputation management for individuals.”

Many Job Seekers Could Benefit from Expunctions

Nearly one-third of the adult working-age population, or about 70 million people, has a criminal record. The same amount of people that have a college degree in the U.S. have an arrest record, according to a 2012 Department of Justice survey.

2012 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 86% of employers use criminal background checks on at least some candidates, with the majority (69%) checking all candidates. A frequently asked question is if they have ever been arrested, but few employers ask if the arrest resulted in a conviction. In a similar 2010 survey by the same group, 31% of respondents said an arrest without conviction would at least be “somewhat influential” in their hiring decision.

For many job seekers with an arrest record for a minor offense that is eligible for expunction, a clean public record can translate into more opportunities for employment.

“We provide eligible individuals with the reputation management tools to seek legal relief, in the form of sealing or expunging public records pro-se [Latin for “in one’s own behalf”],” Kassim said “It’s not using gimmicks such as SEO [search engine optimization] to lower your ranking in search results like other companies who claim to provide reputation management services. Once a court orders that your record is sealed or expunged, the law requires that private entities must comply by removing your arrest record information from their databases.”

Using Tech to Disrupt the Legal Market

Online legal services companies like LegalZoom have emerged by improving upon processes within a legal industry still attached to manual and paper-based procedures. Criminal record expungement fees average about $1,400 for lawyers working in Bexar and surrounding counties, with some cases costing as much as $2,500.

Easy Expunctions goes beyond other online services with its patented software algorithms. Kassim was awarded a utility patent in 2016 for an automated system that generates legal documents with standard information linked to each user, using that person’s public records and in accordance with the person’s state of residence laws for expunction.

For this enhanced capability, Easy Expunctions charges roughly $500 to expunge eligible criminal records from public databases and on aggregated websites that might show up in a search engine query.

“This new method of document automation allows us to essentially complete bulk legal documents in advance of a customer creating an account,” Kassim said. “We use automation to streamline our offerings.”

Many eligible for expunctions either do not know it or cannot pursue it because it is typically expensive via traditional legal services. By automating much of the legal discovery and document generation process, Easy Expunctions offers a cost-effective solution that comes with complete consumer protections, including a 100% money-back guarantee on all products.

“Only about 1% of people who qualify for an expunction in Texas go through the process,” Kassim said. “These are people who can return to the workforce and contribute to society, and who are less likely to return to crime. Affordable access to expunctions lets our customers regain what they are legally entitled to – a sealed record.”

According to Kassim, only about half of the individuals who contact Easy Expunctions do not qualify for an expunction package, in which case, they are referred to a local attorney. The other half benefit from using Kassim’s services by accessing the automated walkthrough of the legal rules and process for expungement.

“We eliminate the two main barriers that we believe are causing only 1% to seek this remedy – lack of information and/or no access to a cost-effective solution,” Kassim said. “We provide a background report card for $20 that will tell you what’s on your record and what qualifies for one of our services.”

“You can certainly automate computational models of legal decision-making,” stated Debra Innocenti, co-founder of Innocenti Jones PLLC, a law firm for tech startups. “I see the use of more AI [artificial intelligence] solutions in the legal industry which is an expected part of innovation. Smart lawyers will leverage these capabilities for routine tasks and decision-making to help them focus more on helping clients gain more access to justice.”

According to Innocenti, clients still have to pay the lawyer in the event of an unsuccessful expungement. However, she maintains the laws in each state are “in black and white, so making that determination for clients in each state can be automated, sparing the client the costs for determining if they are not eligible for an expungement.”

Easy Expunction Services to Spread Across U.S.

When the startup moved to downtown San Antonio, the company had eight employees. As of this article’s publication, Easy Expunctions has 20 employees, with an expected 20 more to join by year’s end. Kassim anticipates growth of up to more than 50 workers at the company’s San Antonio headquarters over the next couple of years, ranging from attorneys to software developers. The startup’s goal is to scale the company across the entire U.S., as the expunction algorithm is developed and rolled out on a state by state basis.

“We plan to be in 23 states by the end of this year,” Kassim said. “We’re in four states at the moment: Texas, North Carolina, Indiana, and Washington.”

Despite founding the company in Austin, Kassim discovered that San Antonio was the ideal city for the company headquarters.

“For us, particularly being a disruptive technology company, we wanted a strategic supporter,” Kassim said. “We found them in the City [of San Antonio] and [Bexar] County, with their support for us, not only from their grant funding but also having them as partners in our shared vision of providing cost-effective legal services for consumers.”

With explosive growth as he and his team seek to upend the online legal services market across the U.S., Kassim is looking for more room for his growing company.

“We appreciate the opportunity we have to create innovative tech that helps consumers and makes a material difference in people’s lives,” Kassim said. “People call us right after their court appearance to tell us the difference we’ve made for them.

“This is what drives what we do and gives us our sense of purpose.”

Easy Expunctions will be one of the many tech companies participating in Tuesday’s SA Tech Trek, and will be on the sixth floor of the Vogue Building for the Fiesta tech event.

Kassim will also give the “fireside chat” for the next Startup Grind on May 2. To RSVP, click here.

Iris Gonzalez

Iris Gonzalez writes about technology, life science, and veteran affairs. She won the Texas Veterans Commission Media Excellence Awards for her 2016 Veterans Day story "Life as a Veteran: What Veterans...