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What is a legal hackathon? And why should I attend?

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Written by Bruntwood SciTech's Head of Innovation for the North: Deb Hetherington

If you work in the tech space you’ll have heard of the term ‘hackathon’, perhaps you’ve even been involved in one. But there are a range of sectors who won’t have heard of the term, and even if they have, likely won’t have any idea what it is. The legal sector being a key example.

I started my career in legal, and so was surrounded by legal abbreviations and terminology. If you’d have mentioned the word ‘hack’ to me it’d conjure up images of leisurely strolls on a horse. Fast forward several years and I’m immersed in the tech sector, having organised a hackathon and judged two global hacks. The upcoming LegalTech in Leeds hackathon illustrates a convergence of tech and legal services that the sector is crying out for.

What is a hackathon?

A hackathon, by definition, is generally a 48 hour event in which specialists engage in rapid and collaborative engineering to solve a challenge using technology. The challenges are set by the sector partners, who have identified areas of required improvement. Teams of around 5 or 6 will work together to create a solution for one of the defined challenges. The teams are made up of at least one to two coders, a sector specialist (lawyer), a business analyst and a UX specialist. Teams can diverge from this makeup, but these elements tend to lend themselves to a more successful solution. It’s also worth noting that it has been evidenced that the more diverse a group, the stronger the outcome.

How do hackathons work?

Teams take two full days working together to create a framework solution, and build a prototype or MVP. These projects will then be presented to a panel of expert judges who mark the solutions according to a scoring framework. A winner is selected, and generally there is a worthwhile monetary award at the end. 

Leeds' 'The Big Hack'

The upcoming LegalTech in Leeds hackathon, or ‘The Big Hack’, is being held at Platform in Leeds on the 10th March, has a cash prize of £6,000 and has been designed to find solutions in three key areas;

  • Driving digital adoption across the legal sector

  • Supporting tech entrepreneurs to engage with the legal sector

  • Improving access to legal services

We expect to see teams of 5-6 competing, which the LegalTech in Leeds team will assign. We encourage tech specialists to attend, lawyers, business analysts, app specialists and UX professionals. If you think you can add value to a team, then make sure to sign up. Whether you sign up as an individual, or as a team, LegalTech in Leeds will create a list of individuals and create teams to ensure fairness, diversity and competition. 

If you, or one of your team members, can afford to take the time out to work on this project, we guarantee it will be worthwhile. Whether you create the next innovation exemplar in LegalTech, make some worthwhile connections or you’re seeking a project to develop your skills, you can be assured the time will be well spent.

Sign up or find out more here.

IMPORTANT - This event will require a time commitment of 1 full day. 

Based on the role you have applied for, you will be assigned to a team prior to the event and full attendance of each team member will be key to the running of the day. 

Six teams of six people will be created from the registrations, please enter as an individual. 

It is possible for a small number of people to attend part of the Hackathon as an observer, please select the appropriate ticket type if you intend to do this.‍

Three challenges will be set on the day - more information on this to come.

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