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Music City Legal Hackers Take First Place at Georgia Bar Legal Hackathon

by Larry Bridgesmith

The VLS Program on Law and Innovation (PoLI) sponsors the Music City Legal Hackers (www.mclegalhackers.org) which brings technologists and legal professionals together to explore technology solutions for legal practice problems.

On September 12 and 13, 2016, the Georgia State Bar Association sponsored its first legal hackathon in Atlanta at which four pro bono programs presented various needs they thought technology might address. PoLI’s Music City Legal Hackers took home the first place prize of $2000 at the hackathon in a competition to create solutions the pro bono groups needed to better serve their clients.

The entities seeking technology applications included Lawyers for Equal Access (L4EA), the Georgia Law Center for the Homeless, the Georgia Legal Services Program and the Southern Center for Human Rights. Each of these pro bono initiatives have limited financial constraints and face demands on their time and resources that are stretched very thin.

The Music City Legal Hackers in partnership with Code for Nashville attended the Georgia Bar Legal Hackathon and interviewed the non-profit legal services providers. Led by VLS Adjunct Professor Larry Bridgesmith who also coordinates PoLI, the group included Lori Gonzales, Andy Seavers, Nick Lorenson, Will Norton and Shannon Collins.

The Music City group came up with some solutions which merely involved serving as product manager to facilitate a dialog with one provider’s legal tech vendor to help solved a product functionality issue. In another case, the group informed a pro bono provider of existing technology the provider was unaware of and helped arrange for its use at no cost.

A technology application was created by the Music City Legal Hackers which met the needs of three of the pro bono legal providers. They each needed a means of confidentially transmitting photos, documents or video clips from their clients with limited means to their pro bono lawyers without incurring the costs of travel, faxing or acquiring computer access they did not possess. In less than six hours an app was developed to solve this problem for clients almost all of whom possessed smart phones.

A summary of the pro bono groups and the needs they expressed which the Music City Legal Hackers were able to assist appears below.

The event was a great opportunity to explore how law and technology can combine to provide legal services “better, faster and cheaper” to benefit clients who could not afford it otherwise.

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