Denver Hosts Global Legal ‘Hackathon’

Davis Graham & Stubbs, Sherman & Howard associates win first pitching round

Denver was one of 11 cities in the U.S. and 40 from around the world to host a Global Legal Hackathon Feb. 23-25. The event was designed to wed technology and law in order to solve common legal “access to justice” problems.

A small group gathered Feb. 23 at Legal Talk Network’s Denver offices to pitch ideas and meet other lawyers and developers to form a team, and “hack” late into Sunday night to come up with solutions to pressing legal problems. Teams developed solutions for issues affecting either the private or public sphere, concerning the business of law or government and legal systems. For the legal systems, the competition used University of Southern California Gould School of Law professor Gillian Hadfield’s “Challenges,” which tackle 10 problems pertaining to access to and administration of justice. The problems range from privacy policy and dispute resolutions to eliminating marijuana felony records.

University of Missouri Kansas City 3L student Jon Benjamin worked on a project intended to combat online cyberstalking. He attended the Denver event in hopes of finding a team to help him develop a solution to the issue. During his pitch, Benjamin cited Department of Justice statistics that estimate there are roughly 850,000 American adults who experience unsolicited online sexual contact each year. Most stalking laws cover activities considered to be cyberstalking, he said. And although there is information available online to help people file a restraining order, Benjamin said most likely don’t want to deal with the process.

“A restraining order isn’t the answer for every situation, but I think the value proposition is that most people who are victims of this would be willing to pay a small fee but not take the time to file the paperwork for a restraining order in order to get the person to stop,” he said. “So if we can put everything together and find attorneys willing to represent them in their jurisdiction that allows the accused due process, it lowers the barriers to fighting what is a crime.”

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the March 5, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.