With the Global Legal Hackathon — the world’s largest-ever coordinated hackathon — less than two days away, organizers have issued a set of “Hadfield Challenges” urging participants to address one of 10 “problems worth solving” in the realms of access to justice, administration of justice, and consumer rights.
The challenges are named for the person who conceived them, University of Southern California Professor Gillian Hadfield, one of the leading proponents of reform and redesign of legal systems and author of Rules for a Flat World: Why Humans Invented Law and How to Reinvent It for a Complex Global Economy. Her extensive research examines how to make law more accessible, effective, and capable of fulfilling its role in balancing innovation, growth, and fairness.
Hackathon organizers are inviting interested participants to take on these challenges and develop solutions. Teams with particularly impressive solutions to the Hadfield Challenges will be invited to the global awards ceremony in New York on April 21.
Here are the challenges, as stated by the organizing committee:
1. Reliable ID for All
Hundreds of millions of migrants around the world lack reliable ID — so they can’t prove they have education, reliably pay bills, have work experience and good performance record. Can we build third-party systems—blockchain or not—to fix that?
2. Blockchain Micro-Contracting for the World
Four billion people around the world live without basic legal infrastructure — can we build a blockchain-based global contracting platform to allow small traders in poor and developing countries to reliably participate in global supply chains?
3. Family Law for All
Disputes within families — in divorce or over inheritance — are the most common among legal problems the world over. Formal dispute resolution is either too expensive, too much conflict, or not available. Can we come up with more reasonable ways to resolve these cases in countries rich and poor?
4. Leveling the Playing Field for Low Wage Workers
When migrants, the young, or the low-skilled are denied promised wages, employment benefits or working conditions, most legal procedures don’t work for them. Are there rapid low-cost ways to guarantee big employers live up to their promises and obligations?
5. New Models of Dispute Resolution
Most formal laws don’t make a difference for most people because they are too expensive, courts are too corrupt or remote or there’s no effective enforcement authority. Can we invent platforms and dispute resolution schemes that offer real and virtual communities a way to build their own rules, backed by the most effective method humans have of ensuring people follow the rules — legitimately denying rule-breakers the benefit of the platform?
6. Tools to Understand Privacy Policies (and what they mean)
7. New Ways to Measure Law Student Competency
Law grads are too often “useless and overpaid” — an obsession with grade curves and GPAs in hiring may be why — can we come up with ways for law students to prove their worth besides GPA?
8. Plain Language Contracting
9. Eliminate Marijuana Felony Records (USA)
Problems worth solving: in California, only 5,000 of the 1 million eligible to eliminate felony record for marijuana have acted. Fix that!
10. Arrest Warrant Challenge Application (USA)
A U.S. Department of Justice investigation of Ferguson, Mo., after the Michael Brown shooting found 16,000 arrest warrants in a town with a population of just 21,000 — many, easily challenged errors in tickets, notices, legal process. Why not a phone app that can diagnose based on a photo and advise steps to take?
The Global Legal Hackathon is this week, Feb. 23-25, first kicking off in Sydney, Australia, and then expanding out into some 40 host cities in 21 countries.
Teams participating in the hackathon can develop solutions directed either to a private benefit that would address the business and practice of law or a public benefit relating to good government, legal systems, and access to justice.
This blog is a media partner for the event.