Frequently Asked Questions: Gen

Event Details

What is a "hackathon" and what do we aim to achieve?

A hackathon is an event where a large number of people meet to collaborate and engage in developing technology-based solutions, often taking the form of a competition or workshop on exploratory programming. It can be used to educate about social and policy issues, to highlight innovation trends (e.g. FinTech, HealthTech), or to solve day-to-day challenges of particular organisations. Solutions from hackathons are sometimes picked up by hosting and/or third-party organisations for further development and investment (e.g. in accelerator and incubation programmes).

In promoting access to justice and technology in the law, the Law Society is organising the Access to Justice InnoTech Law Hackathon (“Hackathon”), a two-day competition in the style of a hackathon for professionals, students, and interested members to design and develop technology-enabled solutions to address issues in community justice and legal services.
Please also read the Hackathon instructions to review the objectives and expected outcomes.

Who should join the Hackathon as a participant?

Anyone interested in legal technology (“LawTech” or “LegalTech”) innovations and is passionate about practical solutions for access to justice (known colloquially in the LegalTech community as “A2J”).

We do not expect you to be an expert, but we do expect you to be curious. We will provide each team access to mentors who are subject matter experts relevant to the Hackathon during the competition. Teams are encouraged to ask mentors questions to educate themselves in developing their Hackathon solutions.

You are more than welcome to join the Hackathon as a participant if you have background in one or more of the following areas:

  • Access to justice issues;
  • App/website development;
  • Legal operations and support services;
  • Legal practise (all areas); and
  • Software engineering.
Alternatively, please join us if you are pursuing studies in Law; Information Systems and Technologies; or Public and Social Policy –or simply entrepreneurial and curious about A2J problems!

The Hackathon encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration. What sort of skills should each team possess?

We encourage diversity within the teams, and there is no strict requirement for their composition. But we recommend that each team should have one or more members competent in the following skills for creating practical and innovative A2J solutions relevant:

  • Front-end and back-end development;
  • Legal research and analysis;
  • Marketing, business development, and management;
  • Public and social policy research;
  • Public interest advocacy and advice; and
  • Working with community justice groups.

Do I have to sign up with a team or can I do so individually?

You may do so either way. For participants signing up individually, we will help to facilitate the formation of teams with different backgrounds to promote cross-disciplinary collaboration.

What does the Hackathon problem scenario look like?

There may be one or more problem scenarios relating to A2J and closing “justice gaps” with the aid of technology. We aim to encourage innovation to solve operational and practical challenges facing the general public in obtaining legal services and the challenges facing stakeholders in the public sector, community service organisations, and legal service providers in assisting lay clients in securing quality legal consultation and representation and obtaining legal advice efficiently and effectively. Please see our " Guidelines" page for more details.

What technologies will / should be used in the Hackathon?

There are no restrictions as to the technology that can be used by teams to develop their solutions. However, to ensure participants can start off from a level-playing field, we have arranged Microsoft and MicrosoftAzure to provide participants with access to:

during the competition period. Basic training will also be provided on these software solutions. The Hackathon operates on a Bring-Your-Own-Device basis. Each team should bring sufficient number of notebooks and mobile devices and related peripherals and cables to complete design and development of their solution. Similarly, each team is responsible for ensuring that they can demo their solution effectively during their pitching presentation, including the use of emulators and other applicable software platforms.

What are the judging criteria for participating teams?

Participating teams will be evaluated on their digital solutions in terms of how they address the following criteria:

  • Relevance to the problem scenario;
  • Legal, technological, and operational practicalities well considered in the design and execution;
  • Optimal user experience (or “UX”) and accessibility by the lay public;
  • Creativity and novelty of the solution; and
  • Operational durability, ongoing support, and economic sustainability.

Mandatory questions to be answered by each team during the pitching session

  1. In one sentence, what problem are you solving and why is this problem important to access to justice?

  2. What are the benefits, including returns on investment and time and cost-savings, for your target users?

  3. What are the costs of implementation and maintenance?

Assessment Criteria

What are the awards and prizes that high-achieving teams could win?

We will offer cash/product prizes for high-achieving teams, to help launch their projects, with the opportunity to promote their solutions through follow-up media coverage. We will offer these prizes to the top three scoring teams as well as honourable mention(s), subject to the discretion of the judging panel. Post-Hackathon, we will also aim to help teams connect with community organisations and other relevant entities to adopt the prize-winning solutions to demonstrate the utility and practicability of the solutions.

What are examples of recent LegalTech hackathons?

Recently, legal professional associations, universities, and other institutions in American, Australian, and European cities have held their own LegalTech hackathons, focusing on public and/or private sector legal services. These hackathons have predominantly been open for public participation, and serve similar goals, educating the public about the value of technology in the law. Here are some examples:

What does “A2J” technology look like today?

Technology enhancing A2J is manifested in many forms, reflecting the heterogeneity of "access" and "justice". The growing efforts around the world to promote A2J and technology in the law are echoed by a number of programmes overseas and in mainland China, including:

There are many examples of current A2J applications of technology, including the “ A2J Authoring Guide”, which is implemented in community centres and duty lawyer services in the U.S. to guide people without any legal training on preparing information for legal consultations.

A2J digital solutions can create significant impact on the provision of legal services to demographics which are under-served with legal representation even if they comprise low-end technologies.

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