Special Coverage

Global Legal Hackathon Lands in Chicago

For the second year in a row, ALA participated in the annual Global Legal Hackathon. This year, ALA teamed up with iManage, a document and email management company specializing in artificial intelligence, to host 43 people from the legal industry and the developer community to discuss key legal challenges and actively determine solutions for them. The Global Legal Hackathon is the largest legal technology innovation event in the world.

Four teams were assembled and worked over the course of a weekend, February 22-24, at iManage’s Chicago headquarters to come up with a plan to rapidly develop solutions to improve the legal industry.

“Everyone came to the hackathon with the idea of wanting to improve the legal ecosystem. And the teams really did focus on how to make the legal industry a better place for people from firms of all sizes,” says ALA President-Elect James L. Cornell, III, who participated in the hackathon for the second time.

The teams focused on a variety of challenges, including offering an efficient pricing and budgeting solution for attorneys who do not have sophisticated systems; they built the system using ALA’s own Uniform Process Based Management System (UPBMS) taxonomy. Another group studied the deployment of laws and legal practices as interventions and enablers of effective public health administration, while another team outlined the premise for a self-learning technology review platform without vendor bias.

Ultimately the winning team’s innovation was IntelliWHY, an application created by lawyers, technologists and legal management professionals that aims to save the lives of lawyers by improving law firm culture.

“Law firms can be unhealthy places because of the rigors of a client-focused culture and high-pressure, high-speed working environment — there’s great unhappiness and dissatisfaction with the practice of law because of these factors,” says Cornell, who was one of the architects of IntelliWHY. “Creating happy and healthy lawyers and professional staff will shift the culture at firms to be better places to work. When healthy and well, people perform at a higher level and are better employees.”

Created in response to Millennials, who may be more amenable to change, replacing Boomers as the largest generation in the workforce, IntelliWHY provides individuals with insights about their own stress indicators to inform their behavior and even suggest self-care techniques the user has programmed. And it gives firms the ability to assess the well-being of their talent and use that anonymized, collective data to make informed decisions on what can change for the better. The information gathered can also be used to benchmark key performance indicators of a firm to establish the correlation of better financial and practice performance to the health and well-being of the firm’s personnel.

Other members of the winning team included Brie Leung, Holly Barocio, and Deb Baker from GrowthPlay; Kelly Dawson of Shook Hardy & Bacon, LLP; Chris Martinez and Ayman Hatem from BigHand; and Dugald Hamilton of 23Legal.

“Participating in the Global Legal Hackathon will go down as one of my favorite collaborative experiences of all time,” says Leung. “Our team of eight had every hallmark of a diverse team with a mix of nationalities, ethnicities, ages, genders and professions, and we came together because of a singular interest in solving a crucial problem in law firms (should we use the term legal organization to be inclusive of in-house legal counsel and others?).”

The IntelliWHY project will compete in the Global Legal Hackathon’s virtual second round. Finalists will be announced March 25 and invited to demonstrate their solutions in person to a panel of judges at the GLH Gala and Finals in New York City.