Law code: Global Legal Hackathon comes to Ottawa

Teams of lawyers, developers and designers are scheduled to come together this weekend for the Ottawa edition of the Global Legal Hackathon, competing to create the best solutions that improve access to justice or advance the business of law.

This can include applications that address the inefficiencies that contribute to unaffordable legal services or obstacles to accessing legal information, for example.

Organizers say approximately 150 participants are expected for the event at Bayview Yards, which is one of 40 taking place around the world from Feb. 23 to 25.

They’ll have the opportunity to develop a technology solution of their choice over the weekend before presenting their work to a panel of judges on Sunday evening. Local winners will have a chance to submit their project, application and supporting presentation to a global judging panel for consideration, with finalists receiving an invitation to an awards banquet on April 21 in New York City.

While the Global Legal Hackathon is “technology agnostic” – meaning any technologies, software and development tools can be used – participants will be able to use an artificial intelligence platform called Iceberg. The machine learning tool is already used by legal data firm vLex to automate the classification of Canadian legal topics and generate recommendations of similar cases for users.

Additionally, IBM Watson is making the “lite” version of its AI services available to participants. Its Ottawa-led evangelist, Lee Bowie, will be on site to assist teams make the most of the Watson capabilities.

Locally, organizers say Ottawa is well positioned to lead in the lawtech space. Canada’s capital has a thriving tech sector, strong legal community and major law school and is the national headquarters of the Canadian Bar Association and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. In addition, it is home to institutions such as Parliament and the Supreme and Federal courts as well as the Department of Justice.

“Law is a data-driven profession, and the need has never been more pressing for law to welcome in … data, technology, information, design and business professionals,” said Colin Lachance, CEO of Compass, the lead organizer.

More information, including a detailed schedule of the weekend’s events, can be found here.