Global Legal Hackathon kicks off this week

By Yves Faguy February 19, 201819 February 2018


A global legal hackathon is taking place on February 23-25 in a bid to help tackle some of the legal industry’s big data challenges. Talented tech, information, design and legal professionals are invited to gather in hubs in 40 cities around the world to combine ideas and technology to build concepts and solutions that address business and practice of law challenges and access to justice opportunities.

Teams are competing for one of ten spots in the world finals, which will take place on April 21st in New York.

“Many within and outside the legal profession have been advocating for the role of technology and outside expertise as essential to helping the profession take on law’s thorniest challenges,” says Colin Lachance, the CEO for Compass, a Canadian legal research platform and country lead for vLex Canada, which is supporting the event. 

In Ottawa, collaborators from Invest Ottawa, Compass / vLex Canada, the University of Ottawa’s law faculty and its Programme de Pratique du Droit, among others, will converge on Bayview Yards for the weekend to form teams to build apps and innovations aimed at solving a particular problem, whether they are inefficiencies that contribute to unaffordable legal services or obstacles to accessing legal information and understanding.

Other participating Canadian cities include Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

The goal is to come up with a prototype or proposal to present in front of a panel of judges, among them:

  • Adam Dodek - Dean, University of Ottawa Law School
  • Martine Boucher - National Chair of the Canadian Bar Association Futures Committee and CEO of Simplex Legal
  • Michael Tremblay - CEO, Invest Ottawa
  • Frederica Wilson - Deputy CEO and Executive Director of Policy and Public Affair, Federation of Law Societies of Canada
  • Richard Tardif - Deputy General Legal Practices Sector and Head of Innovation Council, Justice Canada

“There is a greater willingness with the legal profession to consider change, the tools are easier to work with and can have greater impact, and the public interest in improved access to justice is more acute,” says Lachance who is hopeful the event will truly help “move the needle this time.”

What’s more, in bringing the world together as part of a global hackathon, he says, “this event will generate forward momentum that is both broad and deep.”

At the event kickoff on Friday Allen Lalonde of the IBM Canada Research and Development Centre and legal market analyst Jordan Furlong will hold a discussions on making the law a data-driven profession.

On Saturday there will be speakers discussion everything from privacy and design thinking to blockchain and the Internet of Things. Ontario’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice Yasir Naqvi will be on hand to say a few words and speak with participants.

Lachance considers it promising that the Ottawa event is drawing the interest of representatives from all corners of the legal establishment is promising, given “their unprecedented proximity to the action.”

Presentation and judging will take place Sunday evening. Here are the full schedule details. People can sign up as a participant or attendee at


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