Disrupting Law and Enabling Entrepreneurship: an Insider Perspective from ACE
Young entrepreneurs from QUT Starters joined forces with budding legal professionals at The Legal Forecast to host Queensland’s first legal innovation hackathon from August 5-7 at QUT.
According to coverage of the #DisruptingLaw event, hackathon participants demonstrated ‘collaborative excellence’ and ‘impressed members of the legal profession’ with the quality of ideas pitched.
The Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship (ACE) was proud to be one of the many supporters of the event and accompany and assist its organisers along the journey.
The 54 hour Disrupting Law hackathon attracted a sell-out audience to hear the final pitches delivered by twelve teams.
Each team was functionally diverse, leveraging legal, business, and information technology student talent, coupled with a law firm partner, to co-operate in devising and pitching innovative solutions to disrupt law.
Entrepreneurship research teaches us that there is opportunity inherent in interdisciplinary cooperation, with possible benefits including access to more knowledge, resources, and greater creativity, provided diversity doesn’t disable communication and cooperation.
Disrupting Law: Ideas Sought
According to organisers, this is the first time the legal industry in Queensland has been involved in an event engaging a diversity of stakeholders with the intention of disrupting law in a hackathon-style format.
The judging criteria for Disrupting Law encouraged teams to focus efforts on:
- addressing worthwhile problems;
- devising solutions with impact;
- adoption feasibility and strategy;
- legal, including intellectual property (IP), issues; and
- pitch presentation.
To help inform hackathon participants, a representative of ACE (and legal professional), released a short online survey to gain wider input, and some initial insights, relevant to disrupting law. Such input included experiences with the law (including problems and pain points), macro-environmental trends deemed significant, and current attitudes towards the legal system, to highlight possible opportunities for improvement.
Many participants found access to the law and human rights to be significant issues and directed efforts towards ideating solutions to alleviate related problems.
Friday: Networking, Inspiration, Creative Thinking, & Team Formation
The hackathon commenced on Friday 5 August 2016 with networking at The Cube. ACE enjoyed a behind-the-scenes view, helping and observing the efforts of organisers, meeting participants, and interviewing entrepreneurs, including from QUT Starters, The Legal Forecast, and legal industry.
Saturday/Sunday: From Ideation to Concept, Proposition, or Business Model
Teams then had Saturday and part of Sunday, to progress from ideation to selection and subsequent shaping of an idea to an opportunity concept, value proposition, or business model.
This process included testing and input from market research, speakers, and mentors (including representatives from the legal industry, business, and ACE (below left)).
On Sunday, participant teams were given the opportunity to practice their pitch before a panel of judges. This panel (above right) included Glenn Tighe and Russell Templeton from software analytics company Veriluma, entrepreneur/designer Jock Fairweather from co-working space Little Tokyo Two, and patent and trade mark attorney/marketer/researcher Angela Dahlke from ACE.
Preliminary judging ahead of the formal pitches appeared to be beneficial for participants, as they received feedback and actionable feedback.
This gave teams the opportunity to conduct further validation research, clarify/refine their concept/pitch, or pivot, if and as deemed necessary, before delivering their final pitches.
The Pitched Ideas
Twelve teams pitched their ideas to a maximum capacity audience on Sunday 7 August, 2016 at QUT. A summary of the ideas presented by the teams is listed below, in order of pitch presentation, along with some pictures from each team’s journey.
‘Pro Bono Australia’: Pro bono legal work is vital for many to be afforded access to justice. Lawyers and legal firms committing resources to pro bono efforts may not receive acknowledgement for their efforts. Pro Bono Australia aims to enable both access to justice and benefits for the legal practitioners and firms who provide such service. Their solution includes a centralised relationship management and marketing platform which promotes and facilitates the provision, quantification, and promotion of pro bono services, reflecting a firm’s corporate social responsibility efforts and positively influencing its brand image. Team partner firm: McCullough Robertson.
‘Outlaw Resolutions’: Looked at problems associated with disputes, and the burden of cost, time, and inconvenience associated with their resolution, in devising their solution. Outlaw Resolutions offers an alternative to existing dispute resolution options, one that aims to be cheaper, faster, more accessible and convenient, and less intimidating, with its contractually binding facilitated online alternative dispute resolution (adjudication) process and service. Team partner firm: Clarke Kann Lawyers.
‘LawBot’: offers a solution aimed at enabling greater access to justice, leveraging Law Bot to identify persons in need of legal assistance, via activity on social media, and provide initial guidance and referral. Team partner firm King & Wood Mallesons.
‘Starting Point’: “If money becomes the access to justice, the law becomes a tyrant,” quoted Starting Point. Starting Point seeks to provide benefits for multiple stakeholders in the legal system, including: people in need of access to justice; law students seeking to gain legal industry experience; law firms managing pro bono work; and overburdened community legal centres; by offering a solution incorporating online access to self-help and supervised advice. Team partner firm: Ashurst.
‘Legal Heroes’: is an app to inform, educate, and empower young people with respect to the law, their rights, and responsibilities, in a fun and engaging way, thus promoting civil liberties (and good citizenship) from an early age. Team partner firm: Jones Day.
‘Travel Law’: Travel may offer the best and worst of experiences and if you find yourself in trouble (or wanting to avoid it) Travel Law offers a risk and stress-reducing solution. Travel Law provides overseas travelers with information regarding risks associated with the travel destination, and provides access to legal information and representation overseas to protect the traveler’s rights. Team partner firm: Blackston Lawyers.
‘LawyerShare’: offers people in need of legal services access to quality legal services at a fraction of the cost by grouping many clients, with a similar legal need, to share and save legal costs. The service offers additional benefits including convenience, do-it-yourself options, community, and referrals. Team partner firm: Corrs Chambers Westgarth.
‘Privasee’: is concerned with protecting human rights, namely, the privacy of internet and app users, by empowering them with information and employing means to promote pro-consumer behaviour by providers. Team partner firm: Hopgood Ganim Lawyers.
‘Contrak’: offers a solution to alleviate the challenge and burden of understanding contracts and keeping track of contractual relations, including as terms change and opportunities arise, by leveraging blockchain and smart contract technology. Team partner firm: DLA Piper.
‘getLEGAL’: helps law students find capability-building work in the legal industry before graduation, whilst solving law firms’ HR needs in a manner which aims to build talent, validate experience, and make talent selection easier, more cost-efficient, objective and reliable than via resume reading and other recruitment methods. Team partner firm: Clayton Utz.
‘Legal Match’: utilises technology to better match people in need of legal services with providers, including by building a client profile and finding a match with a suitable pro bono legal service provider. Team partner firm: Mullins Lawyers.
‘ProBoCam’: tackles the problem of case overload for community legal centres, by focusing its solution on enhancing efficiency, knowledge management, and information sharing across centres. Team partner firm: Herbert Smith Freehills.
Pitches Judged (by Humans & AI) and Winners Announced
The hackathon pitches were judged by Ms Amelia Hodges (Queensland Law Society), Mr Brennan Ong (Founder of LawAdvisor), Ms Monica Bradley (Investor and Non-Executive Director, pictured), Mr Steven Tyndall (NextLegal), and Mr Benedict Coyne (President of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights).
According to Glenn Veriluma’s predictive decision-making analytics software was used to ‘judge the human judging’.
Whilst the final scores included some close calls, the winners of the inaugural Disrupting Law Legal Innovation Hackathon were:
- Overall Winner: Law Bot
- Social Enterprise Award Winner: ProBonoAU
- Social Impact Award: ProBoCam
Behind the scenes of a successful hackathon are very busy people working hard and collaborating to make the event a success. ACE congratulates the team at QUT Starters for their successful enterprise in collaboration with the team from The Legal Forecast.
Members of the QUT Starters and The Legal Forecast teams pictured below (left to right) are: Angus Murray (co-founder, The Legal Forecast), Sam Sheehan (Treasurer, QUT Starters), Milan Ghandi (co-founder, The Legal Forecast), Tristan Lockwood (co-founder, The Legal Forecast), Rachel Treasure (current President of QUT Starters), Timothy Hui (VP and co-founder of QUT Starters) and Tegun Middleton (co-founder and president of The Legal Forecast).
Sponsorship and Support
The event was widely supported by government, including Advance Queensland, the legal industry, including the Queensland Law Society, QCCL, law firms, and legal entrepreneurs, QUT Law, QUT Business, the Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research (ACE), and others in the entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Disrupting Law: Benefits
The Disrupting Law event has reportedly yielded a number of positive results to date, including:
- Positive feedback from the legal industry, including law firm participants, regarding the ideas pitched and stimulated at the event
- QUT starters being identified as “an agent for change”
- Validation of the Travel Law idea from a major company in the travel industry
- Creation of intellectual property (IP) which may be protected via IP rights (IPR) and/or otherwise leveraged
- Law firms have expressed interest in participating in future Disrupting Law hackathons
- Participants have gained experience working productively in functionally diverse teams to successfully devise and pitch a solution to a problem in a limited time period
- Participants have developed/refined skills (e.g., developing minimum viable products, faster and more successfully)
- The legal industry has considered input from stakeholders and worked with students from a diversity of disciplines to devise ideas for positive change
- A number of people have reported that their own or others’ attitudes towards innovation and/or entrepreneurship have shifted favourably as a result of the experience
Entrepreneurship Research Enabling Entrepreneurs
ACE is pleased to have had the opportunity to be involved with, and offer assistance and useful knowledge at, the inaugural Disrupting Law legal innovation hackathon.
Enabling entrepreneurship is vital for ensuring a country’s economic and social well-being.
Research on entrepreneurship is likewise invaluable to entrepreneurship, enabling a better understanding of factors, and the creation of an optimal context, for entrepreneurs to succeed.
The Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research (ACE) has a reputation as the national leader for world class research on entrepreneurship.
ACE is key member of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Australia, serving as a primary link between research and enterprise, building strong relationships to enable the exchange of knowledge regarding entrepreneurship, innovation, and small business.