LegalTech - What the Hack(athon)!.

If you’re familiar with the legal world, I’m pretty sure you have heard, seen, or read about LegalTech everywhere and how the capabilities of Law and Technology can be limitless. A great demonstration of the growth and strength of LegalTech was the 2019 Global Legal Hackathon (GLH)

Image from iOS (1)-12019 marked the second GLH ever and once again, KorumLegal was one of the sponsors for Hong Kong.  It was a great and memorable experience! I, along with others, had the opportunity to help organise a large scale 51-hour hackathon. This year, growing on last year, the GLH took place in 46 cities and 24 countries with an astounding number of 6,000 participants world-wide – making it the world's largest LegalTech innovation event yet. It was an intense weekend for the participants, as they had to come up with a winning product or service to help combat the complexity in the legal industry with the goal of making it to the GLH finals in New York City. GLH provides a fantastic platform for innovators to foster their ideas to visions, and then, from visions to actions (a service or product). It is a revolutionary concept as it portrays that law is embracing new mindsets and promoting everyone from students to practitioners to developers to think outside the box and be limitless to further enhance the future where law meets technology. 

Image from iOS (3)I saw people come alone with a penchant for change and through the night, amidst the noise of innovative eruption, I could see the intensity rising and the passion for change growing stronger. Then it hit me. LegalTech is not just a buzzword, it is the future of law! The fairly novel concept is taken seriously, and many have understood the importance technology plays in the legal sector. It’s fair to say, it is a survival tool – those who don’t adapt and adopt will find extinction. One of the main trends I saw through the weekend, was that many wanted to make law accessible to the public. There were initiatives to promote Pro Bono Legal Services, to leverage AI to predict trial results, to provide cheap and easy access to lawyers; all prevalent issues.

There have been assumptions and strong claims that technology is going to render people obsolete in the future. We cannot ascertain what the future will hold, but as of now, these developments in the field of LegalTech, particularly heightened through events such as the GLH, is creating motivation for many. The amalgamation of lawyers and technologists underscores how impactful collaboration of different industries can be. It contradicts the silo mentality many companies have for their commercial success rather than advancing society. One of the powerful features of events like the GLH and other hackathons is that it is impossible to be in a silo.  To be on a team and participate means you have to work with practitioners and technologists; students and professionals; regulators and business people.  And the output of the GLH is testament to the power of this approach.

Image from iOS-1Congratulations to the winning team, Access Our Community who had an altruistic objective in addressing the great need in skills for pro bono legal services and streamlining the methodology by making pro bono cases readily available to lawyers/law firms as well as simplifying the searching process for NGOs  via one integrated platform (currently being organised by emails, at least in Hong Kong!). Well done to everyone who participated, and I encourage all teams to keep up the momentum and continue to create and innovate despite the results.

Events like tech sprints and hackathons are great stimulators of creativity as teams work rapidly and intensely to invent something new or create an alternative solution to a problem. If you think about how many people take part and address the issues in law, the growth of LegalTech is bound to be unstoppable. If this is the result in only two years of GLH, what will happen in 5 years?! The speed at which legal technology is progressing is astonishing. I would not be surprised if soon people/businesses started to innovate innovation!

Still a little bit confused about what the hack(athon) it is?  Check out Annalise Haigh’s article “What is a Hackathon”! 

Satinder Sohal