I spent this past weekend at the Legal Hackers International Summit in Brooklyn. 

What Is Legal Hackers?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Legal Hackers, in its own words:

Legal Hackers is a global movement of lawyers, policymakers, technologists, and academics who explore and develop creative solutions to some of the most pressing issues at the intersection of law and technology. Through local meetups, hackathons, and workshops, Legal Hackers spot issues and opportunities where technology can improve and inform the practice of law and where law, legal practice, and policy can adapt to rapidly changing technology.

It began five years ago in New York City, growing out of a Brooklyn Law School-based reaction to the SOPA/PIPA legislative fight, and there are now over 50 chapters across four continents worldwide—an impressive number of which were represented at the Summit.

The Legal Hackers International Summit 2017

The 2017 International Summit provided a provocative slate of programming, addressing topics ranging from some of the most acute problems preventing access to justice to the promise of cutting-edge emerging technologies, such as the blockchain.  A number session are available by video on the Legal Hackers website, including the Saturday morning keynote by Jim Sandman, President of the Legal Services Corporation, which I’ve embedded below.  (Most of us have some sense for the state of the access to legal services for lower-income Americans, but it’s still jarring to hear to hear the actual facts figures from someone so close to the problem.  I encourage you to give it a listen.  It starts around the 9:00 mark.)

It was also striking—and inspiring—to hear about the efforts being launched by the international chapters.  The Legal Hackers Kiev chapter, for example, seems to have positioned itself at the center of a dynamic and exploding legal-tech scene in the Ukraine.  And others, such as Jose Torres, the Director of the Center for Innovation in Law at Segio Arboleda University in Bogata, Colombia, are spearheading discrete and innovative initiatives to tackle some of the most pressing legal problems in their local communities.  (I’d encourage you to watch Jose’s talk, which begins in the below around 1:00:45.)

Given the focus of Blacklines & Billables, I was particularly excited to hear from Dan Linna, Director of the LegalRnD – Center for Legal Services Innovation at Michigan State University’s College of Law, who is on the brink of launching the Legal Services Innovation Index, which will begin to catalog—in a standardized, systemic, and searchable way—law firm technological innovation and advancement.  You can hear a bit about the effort in the video below, and you can hear much more (I’m excited to say) on an upcoming episode of the Blacklines & Billable’s podcast (so subscribe to our feed on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts, if you’re interested).

Get Involved

If you’re interested in becoming involved with Legal Hackers, visit their website and consider joining this weekend’s “ABA Justice Hack” at Fordham Law School in connection with the ABA’s Annual Meeting.