The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Kerri Froc

HackJustice: Life hacks you and your clients might actually use

February 1 2017 1 February 2017

I’m a big sucker for the life hack lists you see all over the Internet, like 100 Life Hacks to Make Life Easier, or 50 Incredibly Useful Life Hacks You Won’t Believe You Didn’t Know. But if you are like me, you still haven’t used Doritos to start a fire, still can’t fold a fitted sheet, and your attempt to use a walnut to fix scratches on your furniture just means it looks like a squirrel had a snack on your scratched furniture.

More useful hacks will be developed over at HackJustice, a two day “hackathon” February 3 and 4, happening simultaneously in Toronto and Montreal. It is organized jointly by The Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution (Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto) and the Cyberjustice Laboratory (Université de Montréal), and sponsored by the Canadian Bar Association (among others).

Its aim is to “brin[g] together legal professionals, computer programmers, students, computer scientists, software developers, members of the public, and professionals of various disciplines to code and create technology applications that will improve access to justice.” Teams will compete for prizes for the most original and useful apps, websites or other technologies that improve access to justice.

The HackJustice website describes the three challenges that the teams will be working on:

  • Social Media & Access To Justice | Engagement & Empowerment: The mission for this challenge is to develop ways to use Facebook or other social media tools to provide easy access to proposed city council policies, the ability to comment and engage with them, and the ability to interact with other civic minded participants.
  • I Want My Money Back! | Resolving Consumer Disputes: This challenge will see participants develop technology solutions that address the roadblocks that keep consumers from seeking and getting justice.
  • Wild Card | Life As A Law Skill: This challenge will be to develop technology tools that will help people develop the confidence and capabilities they need to deal with everyday legal problems. Building people’s individual legal capabilities, you may recall, was strong point of emphasis in the CBA Access to Justice Committee’s 2013 report, Equal Justice: Balancing the Scales. This challenge, in particular, will be one to watch for the CBA.

Want to get involved? You can register to cheer on participants in-person (though as of writing, the Toronto event is sold out). The events will also be broadcast live, and you can follow via Twitter using the hashtag #hackjustice.

I’m excited to find out what the HackJustice teams will come up with under these categories to make it easier for Canadians to access justice through technology. These kinds of compressed time, intensive brainstorming sessions have the reputation of forcing people to think in new ways and thereby come up with innovative ideas for stubborn problems. Though the hack of using the tab from your pop can to keep a straw in place will be hard to beat…

Kerri Froc is a staff lawyer with the CBA.

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