It was a sunny day in Berlin on Wednesday 8th February. I did not look where I should drive myself from excitement. Rarely events spark this kind of eager expectation like it was in case of Berlin Legaltech Hackaton.
Even though, we as LegalTrek decided to support the event by sponsoring it and helping attract people, veil of mystery about what is going to happen was huge.
I was sure world is full of people ready to disrupt law but I was not sure if they will be ready to take 2 days off to spend actually hacking. Going into the place it was immediately clear that there is a lot of people. Not any people, positive vibes were already there, breakfast was served and everybody was chatting. It was already clear to me, this was way more than both Florian and Natalie expected.
Who are Florian and Natalie? They are the awesome people who have put a lot of effort organizing Berlin Legaltech. Florian is lawyer by education but very versatile guy who got his finger dirty with blockchain. Natalie is one of this calm persons ready to step up and make everything happen. Make sure you get in touch with them if you want to help in future events, simply write to firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂
While breakfast was still on, we’ve sat to discuss how we will run initial brainstorming on three topics: Blockchain, AI and Industrialization.
There were numerous ideas we were running around, mostly on automatic check of contract clauses for validity and simplifying law so it’s easier both for humans and computers to understand it.
Goal of brainstorming sessions were to put Problems – what is wrong; Solutions – what is the thing that would solve it; and Products – link between Solution and Problem, a real product or service that can be developed.
Results, well, there was around 20 proposed products. If you were willing you could take ownership of a product and start developing it after brainstorming sessions.
One of the best features of this event was definitely democratic process, no over-organization and involvement of “mentors”.
Pitching to other people on the first day is essential part of the every hackaton. You want to build a team and start working on a product, step up and pitch! Sound scary? No, actually, it is always super fun, and it was the same at the Berlin event. Lot of good pitches, lot of funny jokes flying around, but yea, people got a grasp what are the ideas they can join and join they did.
How it went afterwards? It was a mix of brainstorming, working, creating prototypes and regular food intakes, thanks to great organization. For a bit less then 48h people were making amazing progress, which became apparent on the second day presentations.
2nd Day Evening Presentations
Total of 12 teams were there to present. I think nobody expected presentations to be fantastic, good maybe, but to achieve great stuff in 48h sounds impossible. That was wrong. It was obvious from a first few presentations that people achieved so much in past days that many corporations would feel ashamed!
CaseChain and ZeitArbeit were using blockchain to handle important contracts verification, for example part time work in Germany. Even though this sounded like a complicated matter between workers, agencies and government they did manage to digest it for us and show a super simple demo of very complex process.
ContractCheckers and ContraAnalyst focused on machine-learning application for law. They made automatic checking of contracts and validity of clauses a breeze. ContractCheckers did this automatically and more aimed at consumers, amazing demo by this team! ContraAnalyst was more aimed at businesses with large amount of contracts. They added also crowdsourcing component for increased confirmation of valid clauses.
Legal Law Bot was a team of Ukrainian law students, very passionate. They’ve built a simple Telegram bot that helps guide consumers when they need to deal with complaints on services and products. There are millions of these everyday, but also huge percent is never reported because of long process and not enough information how to actually submit a complaint.
RenoJane helps run your practice system with a voice controls, like creating a new client, matter, adding a reminder. By using simple Google Voice recognition and speech to text they made a very nice demo. Certainly with Amazon Alexa and others this might be very interesting for lawyers but for a simple tasks. We, at LegalTrek, provide voice recognition functionalities already mainly for adding descriptions to your tasks and billings.
I was most impressed with SATOS. It is real-time terms of service checker. While you are on a website, probably e-commerce, it would tell you if some clauses are against the law. While you can get problems sorted out by law, if you complain, no one wants to loose time and go back and forth with sellers. It’s way better if you know this before your purchase. Fantastic stuff!
Can I Sue? is a simple mobile app where you can upload an image or a video and get fast reply back if you can sue in this case. This is partly access to justice, partly a lead generation for lawyers. Nice idea, looking forward to see how it goes.
Online Dispute Resolution I believe had a great sessions and a journey on the hackaton. They went through all possible models of online dispute resolutions and potential ideal customers for this. Maybe this was a reason why they did not plan to present at first but the crowd, all of us, made them do it 🙂 Presentation was great, as the idea itself is. Let’s see if making your next big legal decision can come from online jury!
Last but not least Data Protection Buddy was the team I was a part of. I’ve already described the idea – simplify compliance for SMBs to new European Privacy Law – GPDR. Shout out to Markus, Jaakko, Rolf and Hauke!
I started article by saying no one could expect what will happen on this hackaton. Now, after it actually happened, we are all thrilled and can’t wait for next one.
You might notice I did not talk about conference part at all. This is mostly because conference was as usual lot of general stuff except last panel and few stories from startups. Last panel was discussion about “Why LegalTech for law firms and legal departments?”.
Honestly, if you are asking yourself this questions then you should be afraid for your future. People often do not understand how broad legaltech term is. If i put you in front of 10 legaltech startups I am sure you would find one that you can use almost daily in your practice! So personally for me, next goal is to write one comprehensive article on “Why LegalTech?”.
To see how forward thinking some people at the conference were I will quote one chief of legal departments of a famous insurance company: “It is basically a question for us right now, will we become a software company or face slow death?”. This does not apply 100% to law firms but there is some truth in saying that law firms that do not take advantage of what technology can offer will face an uncertain future!
Regarding the next for hackaton, I cannot wait to share some exciting news with you about next projects we plan.
Big shoutout to all people I met at the event. We had amazing time together, from work to beers!
Stay smart, stay positive, and join us in transforming the legal industry forever!
Also, Ivan Rasic, CEO of LegalTrek will be in Moscow on Moscow Legal Tech event.