NSW Law Society's first ever Hackathon #InnovateLaw2018

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Last weekend our lawyers and tech specialists participated in NSW Law Society's first ever Hackathon, #InnovateLaw2018, held in Sydney. The event was held in conjunction with the Supreme Court of NSW and Justice Connect, with Lander & Rogers as a proud sponsor.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a Hackathon is an event in which computer programmers and others such as graphic designers, project managers, and subject matter experts, collaborate intensively over a set period of time to create usable software or hardware that solve problems in a specific area.

#InnovateLaw2018 was centered on tech solutions to issues in the legal industry. There were approximately 10 teams of 5-7 people, with each team including students and practitioners from both IT and legal disciplines. The teams were divided into two camps to provide solutions to the following questions prepared by the Supreme Court of NSW and Justice Connect, respectively:

  • How might we better assist users of the Supreme Court of NSW who face challenges with language barriers by harnessing and developing faster, cheaper and more accurate real time interpreter/translator applications?
  • How might we assist self-represented clients who have discovered they have been underpaid to be ready to claim their entitlements (either through a letter of demand or litigation in the Federal Circuit Court)?

Our tech specialists from Melbourne, Jared Woodruff and Tamara Smith, were participants in different teams. Two of our lawyers, Faiza Bukhary and Shaun Rich, were mentors to various teams over the weekend, providing guidance in relation to the practical application of their solutions in the legal industry.

Jared Woodruff's team was allocated the Justice Connect problem and built an application called "myPay". The app enables workers to:

  • check if they are being underpaid (by linking to the Fair Work Australia website for awards and allowances);
  • calculate the amount of the underpayment;
  • identify the documentation needed to support a claim; and
  • produce the paperwork required to seek payment and lodge a claim (i.e. a letter of demand and application to the Federal Circuit Court).

Tamara Smith's team was tasked with the Supreme Court challenge, and developed an app called "InterpretNow". Its features included voice recognition capability that would translate certain phrases, as well as rephrase colloquial or legal words that don't always have a direct translation (e.g. rephrasing "raining cats and dogs" to "raining heavily", and "injunction" to "a judicial order restraining a person from beginning or continuing an action").

The teams presented to the judges Justice Kunc of the Supreme Court of NSW and our very own Genevieve Collins. The finalists will be announced in Sydney at the NSW Law Society annual dinner this Friday.

Congratulations to Jared who was a member of the two finalist teams in the Justice Connect hack.

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