Access to Justice Meets InnoTech!

The Law Society successfully held its first-ever hackathon on 7 & 8 April. The event, on the theme of Access to Justice (’A2J’), was also the first hackathon in Asia to be led by a professional regulator, and also the first A2J-focused legaltech event in Asia.

The “A2J InnoTech Law Hackathon” (the ’Hackathon’) was a two-day competition for talents to collaborate and develop innovative technology-enabled solutions in a cross-disciplinary approach. The aim was to close the justice gap by seeking to address issues in community justice and access to legal services faced by the general public, legal service providers and community service organisations in Hong Kong.

The Hackathon was organised by the InnoTech Committee (’ITC’), with support from the Global Shapers Community Hong Kong and the Legal Innovators. The Law Society was also proud to have support from the Legal Aid Department (’LAD’) for this inaugural event. Microsoft was the technology and prize sponsor.

Around 200 participants took part in the Hackathon, including professionals, entrepreneurs, software engineers, UX designers and students, from across the legal, computer science and start-up sectors.

The event was also supported by over 20 mentors, drawn from across the LAD, local and international law firms, non-profit organisations, technology start-ups, venture capital firms, and Microsoft, who all generously gave their time to guide participants on their ideas, solutions and pitches during the Hackathon and at the preparatory events.

Preparatory Events

An initial briefing session was organised for participants and mentors on 22 March at the Law Society Function Room, during which the three problem scenarios were released. Participants were required to develop a solution for one of the three scenarios, which included:

- Bridging the public and legal professionals;

- Giving minorities a helping hand; and

- Facilitating access to legal aid services.

Following the briefing session, Microsoft arranged a technical training workshop for participants at its Cyberport offices on 27 March. Microsoft introduced its Azure technologies (including Web Apps, Bot Services and Cognitive Services) and gave participants access to these tools in order to help them design and develop their solutions for the Hackathon.

The Two-Day Hackathon

It was a busy yet productive weekend for the participants during the two-day Hackathon as they put their heads together at Cyberport to make the last effort for the best solution. Winners have been identified after careful deliberation among the judging panel which had a difficult task given there were many impressive proposals. Stay tuned for the next issue of Hong Kong Lawyer to learn more about the winning teams’ innovative ideas and highlights of the two-day event!

Reported by: Jolene Reimerson and Joyce Chow

Briefing session for participants on 22 March.

Technical workshop provided by Microsoft on 27 March.

The Organising Committee was thankful for the support of the Legal Innovators represented by Mr. Arvin Wong (first from left) and Mr. David Lam (second from left), and Global Shapers Community Hong Kong represented by Dr. Jan Engels (first from right) throughout the preparation of the event.

Mr. Philip Dykes, Chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association, The Hon. Mr. Charles Mok, Legislative Council Member (Functional Constituency – Information Technology), Professor Alfred Chan, Chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission (second to fourth left), Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng (middle), Mr. Thomas Kwong, Director of Legal Aid, Mr. Stephen Wong, Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Ms. Cally Chan, General Manager of Microsoft Hong Kong (third to fifth right) and Council Members of the Law Society at the Opening Ceremony .