Gilbert + Tobin’s chief operating officer Sam Nickless has given a fascinating inside view of the innovative firm’s inaugural hackathon at the end of January, in which more than 50 lawyers and technologists spent 24 hours devising and coding solutions for legal and process issues identified by Westpac Bank’s in-house legal team.

In a post today (18 March) on LinkedIn – including a video of the event – Nickless describes how the Sydney-headquartered firm assembled hackathon teams of mixed ages and seniority, from summer clerks to partners. Mixed in were technologists from G+T’s innovation team as well as from LegalVision, a tech start up that G+T invested in last year that provides online, fixed fee legal services.

The ambition was to find solutions that help streamline the interactions Westpac’s business units have with its in-house legal team.

Nickless says: “We got everyone together in the afternoon and prepared to work through the night with demos the next day. The mix of skills was crucial and the baton shifted through the event – initially the Westpac team members described the issue, then the lawyers got thinking about solutions. The technologists started as active observers – but then started to see ways to get the solutions built – and really took the lead coding the prototypes as the sun came down.

“We finished with an outstanding set of demos: to streamline inquiries from the business; to automate routine requests; to manage complex workflows and to transform the way the client and its panel firms collaborate on secondments. All of the demos were immediately workable at pilot scale – and are available for our client to embed into their processes following appropriate security and integration approval processes.”

Gilbert + Tobin took the advice of Atlassian programme manager Dom Price in setting up the event and “getting the energy right.”

Nickless adds: “The success of this event was not only in the actual solutions developed but in demonstrating how rapid, customer-focused problem solving can get results. It was exciting as a law firm to see our tech team members out in front of clients and working on solutions with them. There was also a great thrill for our lawyers to ‘act like a startup’.

“Can’t wait for the next one.”

You can watch a video of the event at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oE8Z9K3_HSY

You can read Sam Nickless’ LinkedIn post here