Could the first legal hackathon signal a ‘new chapter’ in Israel’s legal sector?
Hear from FBC & Co’s ‘legal knowledge manager’ about organizing Israel’s first legal hackathon and what it’s like to champion legal innovation inside the firm
On February 22, 2018, Israel was the first country to kick off the inaugural Global Legal Hackathon spanning over 40 cities around the world. It was also the country’s first legal hackathon. Hosted by Fischer Behar Chen Well Orion & Co (FBC & Co), one of the largest law firms in Israel, in collaboration with Tech&Law Israel (the first legal tech platform in Israel), the event sent ripples throughout Israel’s legal sector. It also placed significant emphasis on the public side of the legal industry, hosting a “public benefit judges panel” in addition to the main panel.
Organizers say that nearly 100 people participated in the Israel event, including contestants and mentors, who worked to create solutions to problems in the local legal industry. They also had support from local technology vendors including Nevo, PwC Israel, Xioma representing iManage, and Melingo, who provided technological platforms for the hackathon participants to build and develop their prototypes.
FBC & Co’s Legal Knowledge Manager and Head of Legal Technology Implementation, Esther Dediashvili, who organized the event on the firm’s behalf, tells the GLH Blog what went down at “Israel’s 1st Legal Hackathon” and how she anticipates the initiative to continue to open doors for Israel’s legal tech sector.
For Dediashvili, the event was also personal. “The fact that the local hackathon happened on my birthday was quite symbolic,” she says. “I got to accomplish my longtime dream of being involved in an initiative that would help to position Israel on the global legal innovation map.”
What was the most exciting aspect of seeing the hackathon come together?
Some of the leading technology and legal experts were among our judges and mentors. We were thrilled that Israel’s Ministry of Justice joined our hackathon as one of the main supporting organizations, with an entire designated public benefit judges panel which granted a special award to the best solution in the public sector. The Director General, Ms. Emi Palmor, chaired the special panel.
It’s safe to say that Israel’s 1st Legal Hackathon was the main legal innovation event of the year in Israel, creating a one-of-a-kind opportunity to combine the tremendous experience and entrepreneurship of the local hi-tech community and the leading legal minds in the country, and developing innovative legal solutions to further improve the legal service delivery in Israel.
You’re the “Legal Knowledge Manager” at FBC & Co. It’s not a position we often see at law firms. Could you please tell me a little bit about what your role entails?
As part of my role at FBC & Co, I’m responsible for the firm’s collective knowledge and professional expertise management, as well as legal technology implementation.
FBC & Co has one of Israel’s leading and longest-standing hi-tech practices, advising domestic and international clients in all matters and aspects relating to the hi-tech and technology space. The firm is regarded as a pioneer in the field of knowledge management in the Israeli legal arena, aiming to promote a culture of innovation in the organization along with embracing innovative legal technology.
However, legal knowledge management as a concrete discipline is hardly existent in Israel. Not everyone understands that technology is an integral part of knowledge management in an organization. In fact, technological solutions serve as knowledge management enablers in general, and in the context of legal knowledge management in particular, technology can allow lawyers to concentrate more on what is important to the clients and to deliver better service.
Being a huge supporter of the integration of technology within the legal sphere, six weeks ago I embarked on Israel’s 1st Legal Hackathon journey as its organizer on behalf of FBC & Co — it’s been one hell of a ride! Organizing such a novel and significant event on a tight schedule was a challenge, and I would like to thank our co-hosts Tech&Law Israel for the support throughout the whole time. Special thanks to FBC & Co for believing in us and letting us “crazy legal tech enthusiasts” lead the way to the future of the legal industry in Israel.
Can you tell us about the applications that were presented by the participants in Israel’s 1st Legal Hackathon — and who won?
Nine groups of lawyers and technologists presented their innovative solutions at the hackathon, with the aim to overcome legal challenges both in the private and public sectors, including applications ranging from identity verification for smart contracts based on blockchain, to platforms to assist in filing small claims and making legal information accessible to the public, to systems intended to predict the success rate of cases in courts, and even systems designated to improve the work of accountants.
The winning team was “Robota” (Yulia Kniazev, Nir Forer, Orly Yeruham), who built a bot that enables people to file independent claims at Israel’s labor courts. We’re very proud that two of the winning team members are talented attorneys from FBC & Co’s hi-tech and real estate departments.
Second place and winner of the special award from Israel’s Ministry of Justice for the biggest contribution to the public benefit was team “Bono Factor” (Amos Israel, Eli Livshitz), who created a gamification platform for rating pro bono activity to incentivize lawyers to take cases with public interest.
Third place was awarded to team “Personal Assistant” (Gil Maman, Dani Rubin, Itamar Shenhar, Tom Guter, Alon Melamud), a passionate student group comprising five 18-year-old software developers from the Faculty of Computer Science at the University of Haifa, who came up with a voice recognition AI-based personal assistant for litigation lawyers.
I hope that the innovative solutions generated by Israel’s 1st Legal Hackathon will help shape the future of Israel’s legal industry, which has traditionally been slow to adopt technological advances compared to other countries worldwide where legal tech is progressing at an accelerated pace.
What’s on the horizon for FBC & Co and the “StartUp Nation”?
As part of FBC & Co’s continuous support of the high-tech and start-up community, its team is collaborating with various accelerator programs, currently with MassChallenge and Microsoft Ventures, where FBC & Co’s partners and associates serve as mentors and are taking an active role in educating and cultivating the most promising technology companies.
FBC & Co’s recently announced the opening of its new office in the Hi-Tech Park in Be’er Sheva, which houses technology and R&D companies, start-ups, accelerators, and government agencies in the field of cybersecurity and related space.
Hosting the first legal hackathon in the country is a true testament to the firm’s commitment to bringing innovation into Israel’s legal industry.
In order to succeed in the new economy, I believe that the legal industry should be more open to experimenting with new technologies, and hopefully this hackathon will raise awareness in the local legal sphere as to the benefits of integrating technology in legal practice.
With innovation and entrepreneurship as its native languages, the StartUp Nation is ripe to embrace legal innovation.
After all, as John Kennedy stated, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” My hope is that this notion of change will start to penetrate the Israeli legal scene and mark a new chapter in the history of Israel’s legal industry.
It’s clear that GLH organizers and participants have embraced the spirit of collaboration on a global scale. Going forward, what does collaboration in the legal industry mean to you?
Firstly, our collaboration with Tech&Law Israel as our hackathon co-hosts was very natural. It was clear to us that given FBC & Co’s tremendous collective knowledge in both legal and technology fields coupled with the unrivaled legal tech network and experience of Tech&Law Israel, the hackathon was an excellent opportunity for our organizations to tap into the local legal tech scene and collaborate with various players in the field to build innovative solutions that would further improve the legal service delivery in Israel.
The Global Legal Hackathon initiative is a splendid example of how technology is fueling collaboration in the legal industry to advance social and business objectives by improving the business of law and facilitating access to justice.
Over the course of the local hackathon, we were amazed to see how technology and legal experts can work together to solve legal challenges through technology. We had participants from various backgrounds, including legal professionals, software developers, designers, product and project managers, marketing and business development professionals, and students — all forming teams, brainstorming, sharing their knowledge, learning from the vast experience of our hackathon mentors, and ultimately creating innovative solutions to real legal challenges. To me, this is the essence of collaboration in the legal industry.
Esther Dediashvili is Legal Knowledge Manager and Head of Legal Technology Implementation at Fischer Behar Chen Well Orion & Co (FBC & Co). Prior to this, she practiced securities and corporate law for seven years in two leading law firms in Israel. She can be contacted via email at email@example.com or via LinkedIn. For more information on FBC & Co, visit http://www.fbclawyers.com/. To learn more about Israel’s 1st Legal Hackathon, visit https://www.israellegalhackathon.co.il/