Any moment now, I expect to see Paul Revere gallop by, shouting, “The lawyers are coming! The lawyers are coming!” In just over a week, the ABA annual meeting descends on Boston, and while it may not be bringing redcoats, it is sure to deliver an influx of black, blue and grey suitcoats.

HackcessMediumRecBFor anyone interested in legal technology or access to justice, possibly the most interesting event during the annual meeting is its first-ever hackathon, sponsored by the ABA Journal and Suffolk University Law School. If you are not familiar with the term, a hackathon is an event in which groups of people compete in teams to develop computer or mobile applications.

The theme of this hackathon is Hackcess to Justice — and there is prize money to be had. A total of $3,000 will be awarded to the top three hacks, with $1,500 to the winner, $1,000 to second place and $500 to third place. (Read more at this Challengepost page.)

As the name suggests, the challenge to the teams will be to develop ways that technology can expand access to justice for those unable to obtain or afford legal services. Applications should address one of the five areas of need outlined by the Legal Services Corporation’s 2013 Report of The Summit on the Use of Technology to Expand Access to Justice:

  • Statewide legal portals.
  • Document assembly.
  • Mobile applications.
  • Business processes and analysis.
  • Expert systems

The hackathon will be judged by:

  • K. Krasnow Waterman, principal, K. Krasnow Waterman Consulting.
  • Glenn Rawdon, program counsel, Legal Services Corporation.
  • Robert Ambrogi, some guy who writes a blog.

This is a two-day event held at Suffolk Law School. It kicks off on Thursday, Aug. 7, at 9 a.m., and concludes with the announcement of the winners on Friday at 7 p.m. On Saturday, some related programs will be presented at the annual meeting venue. The schedule is here.

If you want to just observe it, the best time to come is probably Friday at 5 p.m., when the teams will present their submissions to the judges. If you want to participate, then you can find full rules and registration information at this page.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.