The mentors helped to bring our skills together. We all had different roles, but we couldn’t have done it without everyone’s involvement.
Six ANU Law students have made the grand final of the NSW Law Society’s Innovate Law Hackathon and will tonight pitch their mobile application service, an “Uber but for interpreters” that matches interpreters with courts.
Christina Lee, Anneka Atley, Crystal Holt, Jeremiah Go, Jacob Wong and Samuel Exell – mentored by Visiting Fellow Dr Philippa Ryan – will present at the Law Society’s inaugural FLIP (Future of Law and Innovation In the Profession) annual conference in Sydney.
The team, known as hACTivate, met in the ANU Law Minter Ellison Board Room at lunchtime on Thursday 6 September. The next day bused to Sydney where they spent roughly 40 hours locked in a room until they solved the competition problem set by the Supreme Court of NSW.
“It showed me that you don’t have to overcomplicate things, and that you can keep it simple,” Anneka, a second year Arts/Law student, says of the team’s app.
“It’s like Uber in that you’ll be able to see where an interpreter is in real time so they could be available to visit a court or do a video conference,” she says.
“It would stop unnecessary court adjournments because what happens now is that if a person turns up in court and doesn’t speak English so well, the case is adjourned for three weeks and it’s expensive.
“This is cheaper for the clients using this because they’d have to pay fewer court costs because there would be fewer delays for their hearings, and the courts wouldn’t need to hire interpreters themselves.”
Mentor, Dr Philippa Ryan, says hackathons are an intense, practice-authentic sprints of work over a weekend by teams of lawyers and technologists to design and develop an app, or an app concept, to solve a real world problem.
“It culminates in the competing teams presenting their pitches and answering the judges’ questions,” Dr Ryan says.
“It is similar to mooting, but instead of submitting a legal argument to win a case, the teams offer a tech solution to a legal or access to justice problem.”
Christina Lee, also in her second year of an Arts/Law double degree, was the team’s project managers and one of its presenters for the five-minute pitch.
“There were six teams in our division and the top two made the grand final.”
Her audience in the grand final will include Supreme Court Judges and officials.
Second-year Juris Doctor student, Jeremiah Go, says he’s enjoyed the opportunity.
“You got to really immerse yourself into finding a solution for society and connect with students and meet others in a professional capacity.”
Jacob Wong, who’s doing a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) / Bachelor of Information Technology, liked being involved.
“Leaving people to get stuck in a room is a good way to solve a problem,” he says.
“The mentors helped to bring our skills together. We all had different roles, but we couldn’t have done it without everyone’s involvement.”
Crystal Holt, who’s also two years into her Juris Doctor program, says the experience has been like a rollercoaster.
“It was like a problem question in an exam, in that you go in with nothing and you’ve got to come up with something.”
Dr Ryan says hACTivate performed brilliantly.
“They came up with a simple and effective solution – a minimum viable product – that offered a compelling and innovative way to Uber-ise translation services for NSW Courts.
“Their success in progressing to the Grand Final is particularly impressive in light of the fact that they were competing with legal and tech professionals.”