Suffolk Law School is reviving legal education; its upcoming hackathon evidence of that claim.
The American Bar Association Journal has organized a two-day competition called “Hackcess to Justice,” scheduled to take place August 7 and 8 at Suffolk Law School. The event is designed to have students, coders and entrepreneurs collectively working toward developing solutions that broaden access to legal services. Or rather, close “the justice gap.”
Roughly 80 percent of low-income citizens burdened with civil legal problems are unable to receive the help they need, according to nonprofit Legal Services Corporation. Bankruptcy, divorce, landlord-tenant disputes, home foreclosure and child support issues are all going unrepresented, due to the high cost of obtaining a lawyer.
Although technology has started infiltrating lawyers’ every day, from their document assembly to litigation support, it hasn’t as heavily impacted “the access to justice arena,” according to the ABA Journal — an area that could desperately use innovation.
Hackathon participants have been encouraged to consider creating mobile technologies that could reach more people more effectively or portals capable of guiding people through the legal process. Other suggestions include developing “expert systems” that would assist lawyers and other service providers, or document-assembly applications that support the creation of legal documents.
The event coincides with the start of the ABA’s annual meeting in Boston. Jim Sandman, president of the Legal Services Corporation, will open the competition on Thursday, August 7, with a keynote speech, while a panel of experts will judge each team’s work the following day. The top three hacks will be awarded a total of $3,000 in cash prizes.
Suffolk Law School Professor Andrew Perlman, director of the university’s newly-launched Institute on Law Practice Technology and Innovation, said in a statement the hackathon aligns with what the school has been trying to accomplish in the areas of legal technology and innovation.
“Suffolk’s Institute is focused on teaching students how to leverage technology to deliver legal services more efficiently and affordably,” Perlman explained. “The Hackcess to Justice hackathon offers a great opportunity to showcase some of the ways in which this can happen.”
To register for the event, click here.
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