Hacktastic: Law Society of Scotland launches first hackathon

As legal hackathons grow in popularity, The Law Society of Scotland and Legal Hackers Scotland are inviting teams to participate in the Law Society’s first ever access to justice hackathon.

The 48-hour event, which runs over the weekend of 17-19 June, is a pop-up innovation lab for lawyers, designers, technologists and others to collaborate and design sustainable and scalable solutions that alleviate pressing access to justice issues.

Stuart Naismith, convener of the Law Society of Scotland Access to Justice Committee, said: “Like many public services, the justice system has seen significant financial constraint in recent years. With cuts to legal aid, court closures and a range of other factors, access to justice is becoming more challenging for people across Scotland, particularly in rural areas.

“We think that there is great potential in using technology to help address this and introduce new digital products which would improve access to justice for people across the country.”

Hackathons in the legal sector are growing in popularity, particularly in the social justice space.

Recently Legal Geek, led by founder Jimmy Vestbirk, organised a hackathon to build solutions for Hackney Community Law Centre, which helps to address social justice issues in East London.

And at its Momentum conference on 6 and 7 June, DocuSign brought together developers and DocuSign engineers in a ‘hack for good’ for Team Rubicon, to help streamline its ability to respond more efficiently to humanitarian disasters. Team Rubicon deploys emergency response teams made up of military veterans, who apply the skills they have learned in the forces.

Arlene McDaid, founder of Legal Hackers Scotland said: “The hackathon provides a unique opportunity for lawyers to collaborate with a diverse group of individuals and crowdsource innovative solutions to pressing access to justice issues. To participate all you need is enthusiasm, ideas and an open mind!”

Participants are invited to design a product to address challenges around access to justice in areas including legal information for young people, such as designing new ways for young people to access legal information relevant to them, and legal processes, such as using technology to help people navigate legal processes and documents, such as small claims actions.

David Flint, senior partner and head of IPTC Group at MacRoberts, which is hosting the hackathon, said: “We’re thrilled to be involved in this project. It’s a fantastic opportunity for the legal profession to work with IT experts in creating new apps and other online solutions which will help deliver legal advice and services, particularly for groups that can be harder to reach.”

Teams will pitch their projects to an expert judging panel on Sunday 19 June. The winners will receive £2,000 and there are runners up prizes of £1,000 and tickets for HackTrain 3.0

It’s free to participate, however, places are limited. To register: Tech4Justice Hackathon

To find out more and get involved contact accesstojustice@lawscot.org.uk