The word ‘hackathon’ may inspire mixed emotions, depending on the legal ramifications surrounding the event. Brooklyn Law School Professor Jonathan Akin debated organizing such an activity for this very reason; that is until 2012, when he helped arrange a legal hackathon with the support of the Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic.
A hackathon is a conference, meet-up or workshop where experts from a variety of disciplines get together with tech aficionados who are seeking innovative solutions and structures to take on long-established problems. A challenge or problem is presented, and then groups put on a demonstration.
Hackathons are proving to be a way for like-minded lawyers to find each other and help them discover new directions in their careers. The event may produce an app, policy proposal, service or other work product that addresses problems in the real world. After the Brooklyn hackathon, a number of Legal Hackers chapters spread across the United States.
These events create a way for like-minded attorneys to connect, innovate their careers and help students allocate a job in a contracting legal market. Hackathon organizers’ first challenge is overcoming the stigma surrounding the word ‘hacker.’ “To most lawyers, ‘hackathon’ probably sounds like an invitation to commit felonies,” says Dazza Greenwood, a lawyer and research scientist at the MIT Media Lab. “But to people who get it, a legal hackathon is about lawyers, engineers and policymakers interested in solving problems at the intersection of the law and technology.”
Article via ABA Journal, 1 June 2015