Technology is not enough to change the legal industry — change always starts with changing people’s mindset...

If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.

R. Buckminister Fuller, designer, inventor, futurist

Last weekend, 140 participants met at the publishing house Gyldendal to do “legal hacking” over 24 hours . Designers, entrepreneurs, lawyers, students, and technologists worked in teams to develop creative solutions to the issues at the intersection of law of technology — using elements from the Lean Startup Methodology.

The purpose of Oslo Legal Hackathon is to be a tool to teach people a new way of thinking. I’m forever grateful for the passion, enthusiasm and time all the contributors has dedicated to make this happen. Oslo Legal Hackathon is a purely non-profit organisation where our only purpose is to help changing and innovate the legal industry.

Contributing to the event, 30 mentors coached the teams, 20 volunteers helped organizing, 24 partners from the law industry contributed a sponsors, and a hardworking jury of 5 finally announced 4 winners out of 19 teams as “Best Overall Solution” and “Best performance” within the two categories “Facilitating access to justice/law” and “Streamlining the business of law”. The audience also helped out by choosing “The Audience Winner” by using an interactive voting tool while all the teams where on stage.

Winner of the Best Solution for facilitating better access to law: Team Term-Innate — a platform highlighting the “shady terms” for online purchases

We need to make law more accessible for all

The legal industry is too an industry that needs to change in the pace with the social development. Not just because it needs to participate in the world of “digitization” — but because it is necessary to make law more accessible for all. The rule of law is the foundation of society, deciding the rules both companies and individuals needs to adhere to. It’s an injustice that the law is so inaccessible — and we need to do something about it.

For this to happen — we need to think in new ways — and technology gives room for creating new and necessary solutions. But nothing will be done unless we start interacting with each other; technologists need to know how lawyers work, and lawyers need to understand the concepts of how technology works.

This is also why my company Lawbotics, has started building a community of people interested in the intersection of law and technology. We’re hosting frequent Oslo Legal Tech Meetups for a growing community of more than 1000 ‘legal techers’ in Oslo. The next natural step was to build on this interest by organizing a hackathon, to keep creating awareness and offer a hands-on experience for exploring and developing creative solutions to issues at the intersection of law and technology.

A concentrated audience watching the pitches

Oslo Legal Hackathon — a successful “dugnad” and a “Minimum Loveable Product”

As the initiator of this event, it’s safe to say that I’m super proud of what we achieved this weekend! It all started in February, when I sent out an email to people I knew was engaged in the innovation of law, with the subject: “Let’s organize a Legal hackathon”! The response was all I could hoped for: 24 partners ranging from the top tier law firms to the University and Lawyers Association all said “Yes” to contribute to such an event.

Using the lean methodology, we first focused on testing our riskiest assumption: Would anybody sign up for an event requiring almost two full days of their spare time over an weekend? We sent out a market survey to test the waters. More than 120 people answered — making us confident that we could go a head.

Organizing such an event without ever doing it before, was a learning in progress for all of us.

We solved our problems step by step — and ended up with our “Minimum Loveable Product” (MLP) — the Oslo Legal Hackathon 2018 which took place from 21st to 22nd September in Oslo, Norway.

To kick things off, we ran a “lean methodology” workshop held by Lisbet Welling from Sprint Consulting, a workshop by Hodo Elmi Aden whom shared her experiences from two previous hackathons, and a “tech” workshop introducing the hackers to the technical tools and data sets available for the hackathon (including case law and law text made available by Gyldendal Rettsdata).

The positive feedback has been overwhelming. Changing the legal industry will take time, and is not done with just one event or in one year. But we now have our “MLP” ready for scaling, and are looking forward to welcome everyone back next year to keep contributing to changing the legal industry!

The jury and me trying out the event’s photoboot!!

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Merete Nygaard is the founder and CEO of Lawbotics. Founded in 2017, Lawbotics has already gotten recognition as one of the most innovative companies in Norway by the magazine Innomag. The company has also created a community of “legal teachers” with almost 1,000 members and is organizing the first legal hackathon in Norway together with benchmark companies. Lawbotics has developed Lexolve, which is a B2B software as a service tool for document automation developed by Lawbotics AS, in close collaboration with dedicated and knowledgeable pilot customers within the enterprise segment such as law firms and in-house legal departments