McDaid: lawyers have a lot to offer hackathons

A hackathon has led to the creation by lawyers and technologists of a free mobile app aimed at helping the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy access support services and information.

Legal Hackers Scotland (LHS), assisted by Glasgow tech firm Add Jam, put the app together in seven days following the hackathon.

It is available to download to Android and iPhone devices and assists with locating the various types of support available – from voluntary organisations, charities, public bodies, and local businesses.

LHS said: “There is a real challenge in coordinating these resources, to ensure those who desperately need support are kept informed about the ongoing help available, and how to access it.

“There is a daily flood of information from various websites and social media channels, making it difficult to source relevant information about the relief available.”

LHS’s founder and organiser, legal academic Arlene McDaid, said: “We are keen to connect and collaborate with volunteer groups and also those in the legal community providing pro bono legal assistance, to explore and build tech solutions that will help optimise their efforts.”

The group, which ran a hackathon a year ago backed by the Law Society of Scotland, has planned a second Grenfell Tower support hackathon to run on the weekend of 22-23 July in Glasgow, with the aim of developing further tech solutions to assist with the response effort.

Ms McDaid, a commercial contracts tutor at the University of Glasgow’s law school, told Legal Futures: “Lawyers play a critical role in the development of legal tech solutions and their ability to problem solve and work under pressure means they have a lot to offer at hackathons.”

Among other supporters, the event will be sponsored by Glasgow commercial law firm Cloch Solicitors, which specialises in advising lawtech start-ups on IP and financing matters.

LHS said: “We have been in regular contact with a number of the heroic volunteers, who have been providing much needed daily support to those affected.

“Additional tech solutions would help them improve their operations on the ground by facilitating better communication and collaboration.

“We are exploring with the volunteers the types of solutions which may be most beneficial, and will share details of these with participants either before or at the start of the event.”

LHS has been running free programming workshops, which it said were designed “by lawyers for lawyers”, to encourage the legal profession in Scotland to participate in legal tech.


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