Celebrating Five Years of Legal Hacking

2017 marks five years since a handful of recently graduated law students in New York City started a Meetup group called “Legal Hackers” that sought to bring lawyers, technologists, and policy makers together to discuss issues at the intersection of law and technology. Since then, the movement grew quickly — from a second chapter in Washington, D.C. started by original New York Legal Hackers members, to organizing legal hackathons and Le Hackie awards, to new chapters spreading across the United States and then the world, to international summits that brought chapter organizers together to discuss law, technology, and community building.

Legal Hackers now boasts over 50 chapters across five continents. We couldn’t be prouder or more excited for how far the movement has come! We’d like to especially thank Jonathan Askin for his inspiration and continued evangelizing and support, all of our chapter organizers and participants across the world, and everyone who has ever spoken at a panel, competed in a legal hackathon, or spread the word about Legal Hackers. We look forward to five many more years of legal hacking around the world! (Antarctica chapter, anyone??)

BONUS: A special message from the Legal Hackers Madrid chapter!

Music City Legal Hackers Organizers Win Access to Justice Award

Legal Hackers is proud to announce that Larry W. Bridgesmith and Caitlin “Cat” Moon have been honored with the Janice M. Holder Award by the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services for their work with Music City Legal Hackers organizing its first legal hackathon focused on access to justice! The Janice M. Holder Award recognizes an attorney, public servant, or other advocate “who has advanced the quality of justice statewide by ensuring that the legal system is open and available to all.”

Larry Bridgesmith, an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt Law School, and Cat Moon, who teaches legal design at Vanderbilt Law School, are the organizers of the Music City Legal Hackers chapter along with Lori Gonzalez and J.B. Ruhl. The Music City Legal Hackers’ LEGAL + Tech = A2J hackathon challenged participants to create solutions to actual problems submitted by Tennessee nonprofits in the legal space and awarded funds to the winners to continue their work.

Congratulations Larry and Cat, and keep up the good work!

Legal Hackers 2017 International Summit

On August 4-6, 2017, legal hackers from all over the world convened in Brooklyn, NY where Legal Hackers was born 5 years ago for our third international summit. Participants traveled from as far as Nigeria, United Arab Emirates, and Ukraine to discuss, share, and collaborate on how to improve access to and the practice of law using technology. Topics of discussion included access to justice, open data, tech policy, data science, and of course, the blockchain.

The hashtag for the event was #legalhack2017 and the entire summit was live streamed. The schedule and videos of the summit can be found below:

Welcoming Remarks
Phil Weiss, Director, Legal Hackers
Jameson Dempsey, Director, Legal Hackers

Morning Keynote
Jim Sandman, President, Legal Services Corporation

Measuring Legal Innovation
Dan Linna, Chicago Legal Hackers Legal Hackers

Chapter Case Studies
1. Legal Hacking in Nigeria, Olumba Chukwemeka Benjamin, Imo Legal Hackers
2. Legal Hacking in the Middle East, Suzanna Kalendzhian, Dubai Legal Hackers
3. Legal Hacking in Ukraine, Dmitry Foremnyi, Valentyn Pivovarov, Nestor Dubnevych, Helen Locaychuk, Nataliia Komarnytska, Kyiv Legal Hackers

Hacking Human Trafficking
Rob Spectre, Brooklyn Hacker

Cori Zarek, Senior Tech Policy Fellow, Mozilla, former Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer

Sunday workshop previews

The Gray Area: Where Government Transparency Meets Individual Privacy
Rebecca Williams, DC Legal Hackers
Chris Wong, NYU GovLab
Rashida Richardson, NYCLU
Dominic Mauro, Civic Hacker (DoITT by day)

Teaching Hacking for Access to Justice
Jose Torres, Colombia Legal Hacker

Lexorium: Improving Innovation Skills for Law Students
Denis Ivanov, Kyiv Legal Hackers

Five Things I Learned Launching a Legal Tech Startup
Amy Wan, LA Legal Hackers

Sarah Feingold, Vroom

Hacking Law Firm Culture
Scott Allan, Toronto Legal Hackers

Holacracy for Law Firms
Dima Gadomsky, Kyiv Legal Hackers

Tech Policy: The General Counsel’s Perspective
Adam Greenberg, Warby Parker
Charles Kwalwasser, Bark & Co
Ho Shin, Yext
Sarah Feingold, Vroom

Blockchain Year in Review
Noah Thorp, SF Legal Hackers
Dazza Greenwood, MIT Media Lab
Nina Kilbride, Monax
Houman Shadab, Clause.io
Pat Berarducci, Consensys
Reuben Bramanathan, Coinbase

Legal Hackers Chapter Case Studies
Legal Hacking in Kenya, Nairobi Legal Hackers
Legal Hacking in Singapore, SG Legal Hackers

Using Network Theory to Improve Legal Systems
Aileen Schultz, Toronto Legal Hackers

Design Thinking Workshop
Cat Moon and Franklin Graves, Music City Legal Hackers

Demystifying Data Science Workshop
James Miller, Federal Communications Commission

Technology for Social Justice: Field Scan Workshop
Georgia Bullen, Open Technology Institute

Legal Hackers, the Global Legal Technology Laboratory, and Law School Collaborations
Jonathan Askin, Brooklyn Law School

Accelerating Legal Hackers
Phil Weiss, New York Legal Hackers

Taking Legal Hackers to the Next Level
Dan Lear, Seattle Legal Hackers

Kyiv Legal Hackers Host First Legal Hackathon!

On May 27-28, 2017, Kyiv Legal Hackers hosted its first legal hackathon! The event was spread across two locations in the Ukraine, with over 150 people attending the pitch night for the 15 projects produced during the weekend. First prize went to Playbook, an app to help seed investors make sure their legal documents are correct from the start. The runner up was a bot that checks real estate listings for problems called Safe Property.

Congrats to organizers Valentyn Pivovarov, Nestor Dubnevych, Nataliia Komarnytska, Dima Gadomsky, Mykyta Pidgainiy, Dmytro Foremnyi and Denis Ivanov on their successful first legal hackathon. Check out their video of legal hackers at work:

Music City Legal Hackers Host Inaugural Legal Hackathon

The Music City Legal Hackers, in conjunction with Code for Nashville, hosted their first legal hackathon on April 7-8, 2017 at Vanderbilt Law School! The hackathon challenged participants to solve problems submitted by Tennessee pro bono and “low bono” legal nonprofits. For those who were interested in legal hacking and access to justice, but did not want to join the hackathon, Massachusetts Legal Hackers organizer Dazza Greenwood led an unconference during the working portions of the hackathon.

Learn more about legal hackathons and see footage from the Music City Legal Hackathon below.

New York Legal Hackers Ask What A Trump Presidency Will Mean for Technology Innovation

On December 14, 2016, the New York Legal Hackers chapter hosted a non-partisan panel discussion on what the state of technology policy might be over the next four years under President-Elect Trump. Watch the video below:


Oz SultanFormer CounterTerrorism Policy and Smart Cities Advisor, Trump Campaign

Kristian Stout – Associate Director for Innovation Policy, International Center for Law and Economics

Moderated by Phil Weiss

Thank you to the Internet Society New York chapter for the video!

Legal Hackers 2016 International Summit

On July 15-17, 2016, legal hackers from all over the world traveled to Brooklyn, New York for the 2016 Legal Hackers International Summit. The hashtag for the summit was #legalhack2016, and the Saturday’s activities were live streamed. Schedule and videos are below.

Legal Hackers: Where We Are and Where We’re Going
Jameson Dempsey, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP
Phil Weiss, Fridman Law Group

What Legal Hackers Can Learn from the Original Hackers
Dan Lear, Dir. of Industry Relations, Avvo

A Hacker’s Perspective on Opportunities in Legal Hacking
Scott Allan, CEO, MindHive

Simple Legal Hacks from Singapore
Jerrold Soh, SG Legal Hackers

The Lantern in the Fog: Bleak House and the Information Revolution
Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Solicitor and Member of Technology Committee of the Law Society of Ireland

Take Back Your City: Hacking Open Data and Pair Coding Your Laws
Ben Kallos, New York City Council Member

3 Civic Hacking Models for an Open Source City
Jason Hibbets, Sr. Community Evangelist, Red Hat

Legal Toolkit for the 21st Century: Smart Contracts and the Blockchain
Tom Brooke, Partner, Brooke & Brooke
Nina Kilbride & Preston Byrne, ERIS Industries
Dazza Greenwood, MIT Media Lab Artificial Intelligence and the Legal Hackesphere
Larry Bridgesmith, Law Professor, Vanderbilt University School of Law

The Ethics of Applying Machine Learning to Legal Use Cases
Kathryn Hume, Director of Sales and Marketing, FastForwardLabs & Professor of Law, University of Calgary Faculty of Law

Legal Issues in Crowdfunding and Alternative Finance
Amy Wan, Partner, CrowdfundingLawyers.net
Ken Nguyen, CEO, Republic.co

The Role of Open Data in Federal Innovation Policy
James Miller, Senior Attorney Advisor, Federal Communications Commission

Lawtoons: Promoting Access to Justice Through Design (Workshop)
Kanan Dhru, Founder, Research Foundation for Governance in India, Lawtoons, and LawForMe

Introduction to LawWithoutWalls
Erika Pagano, Assistant Director, LawWithoutWalls

How The Internet Changed Legal Education
Kyle McEntee, Law School Transparency

Law Schools as Members of Interdisciplinary CivicLawTech Teams and Networks
Tony Luppino, Director of Entrepreneurship Programs, UMKC School of Law

Hacking Legal Practice The Challenges and Opportunities in Legal Innovation
Matt Weinmann & Peter Brase, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP

Mindfulness for Lawyers (Workshop)
Nitya Bansal, Founder, Sai Centre for Socio-Legal Action

Innovation in Legal Services (Workshop)
Dan Linna, Director of LegalRnD
Andres Jara, Founder, Alster Legal

New York Legal Hackers Explore Cryptocurrency Regulation

In a lively panel discussion on March 2nd, the New York Legal Hackers explored the shifting perceptions of Bitcoin and the various regulatory regimes impacting cryptocurrencies. Over the past several years, virtual currencies such as Bitcoin have made headlines — first as an untraceable currency used largely by criminals, then as an easily lost asset as exchanges such as Mt. Gox collapsed after security breaches, and more recently as a tech savvy investment as venture capitalists began to pour capital into cryptocurrency companies. As cryptocurrencies have gained in popularity and acceptance, governments and regulatory bodies have struggled with the question of categorizing them as something for which regulations already exist (such as a currency, a security, or a commodity) or if it is something entirely different for which new regulations need to be created.

Moderator: Houman B. Shadab, Professor of Law at New York Law School and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Taxation and Regulation of Financial Institutions


Carol Spawn Desmond, Managing Director at SEC Compliance Consultants, Inc.
Gregory Xethalis, Counsel at Kaye Scholer LLP
Jay L. Hack, Partner at Gallet Dreyer & Berkey, LLP

Thank you to sponsor Clio, venue Dev Bootcamp, and to Joly from ISOC-NY for the video!

NY Legal Hackers Declare “Safe Harbor R.I.P.: A Data Protection Postmortem”

On October 27th, New York Legal Hackers discussed the Court of Justice of the European Union’s invalidation of the much relied upon “safe harbor” permitting transfers of EU personal data to many United States companies earlier in the month. Fueled in large part by Edward Snowden’s disclosures on NSA surveillance, the decision means that EU law no longer recognizes one of the primary ways for enabling transfers of personal data. Almost 5,000 companies now must look for alternative ways under EU law to legitimize transfers that are today an integral part of daily commerce. The case also throws into question a number of other methods used in the EU to enable free flows of data, and recent statements from regulators and policymakers both within and without the EU have only further complicated the picture.

Andrew Rausa and NY organizer Warren Allen discussed the impact of a world with no Safe Harbor, the possible alternatives available, and the growing trend in countries implementing EU-style restrictions on the transfer of data.

Thank you to Cardozo Law School for hosting the event and the Internet Society New York Chapter for the video!

First Legal Hackers Meetup in Estonia Focused on Big Data and Law

The following dispatch comes from our Estonia Legal Hackers organizer Risto Hübner:

Estonia Legal Hackers had its first meetup in Tallinn, Estonia on October 7. The meetup was hosted by Nortal, the largest software development company in the Baltics. About 35 people participated. Most of the participants were practising lawyers, but the event also brought together several technologists, university professors and government officials. There were participants not only from Estonia, but also several other countries, including for example China, Switzerland, and Ukraine. Thus the atmosphere was very vibrant and lots of interesting people came together.

Risto Hübner, the general counsel of Nortal and the organizer of the meetup, as well as Anne Veerpalu, the co-organizer of the meetup and a lawyer primarily specializing on advising of early stage startups, gave an introduction to the Legal Hackers movement and overview of some of the current trends in legal technology and the legal industry in general. Thereafter, one of the leading data scientists from Estonia gave an interesting presentation about big data and machine learning, opening up the following discussion about the relevance of big data for lawyers and their clients. In addition, presentation about legal content capture and visualisation was made, demonstrating how visualisation could make it easier for people to understand legal norms. Finally, the meetup was concluded with a demo of a new database containing majority of Estonian case law, and being an alternative to the respective official legal database run by the government.