As lawyers, we can move the legal industry forward, or we can be dragged along behind as everything else moves forward. We are often reminded of the massive disconnect between the demand for legal services and the available supply. There are plenty of lawyers out there, but fewer consumers are willing to pay for our traditional services at the cost for which they have been offered. I suspect that most of us realize that this equation is broken; but do we realize that it is fixable, and that the solutions can benefit both lawyers and the public?
The Necessary Tools Are at Hand. We have the tools available. The fix starts with the realization of what technology tools have the potential to do, how they can improve not only our efficiency and bottom lines, but our deliverables, our clients’ experiences, our satisfaction with our practices, and our risk overhead. To bring these solutions to life, we need lawyers, software creators, and other technology specialists, all of which are available.
Turning a What-If Into a Look-At-This. Lawyers are best suited to identifying and resolving issues in the practice of law. Most lawyers, however, would need help from other specialists, including software developers and other technology specialists, to bring their idea to life. From October 10-12, Seattle’s first-ever Legal Technology Startup Weekend will bring together lawyers, software creators, and entrepreneurs to create leading-edge legal technology solutions. This is your opportunity, for a few days, to jump into the driver’s seat and work with a group of smart collaborative people, who have the skills you’d need, to build an innovative business in an industry you already know and love.
What Is Startup Weekend, and What Can Be Accomplished in Just a Weekend? Startup Weekend is a nonprofit organization that hosts three-day competitions where teams develop and launch startup enterprises. In August, San Francisco hosted the first-ever law-themed Startup Weekend, and as just one example of what can be accomplished, consider CloudL, which won the grand prize. The team, which included Forrest Carlson, an organizer of the Seattle event, created CloudL, which is a web-enabled tool designed to help landlords and tenants get quick and accurate answers to their legal questions. The CloudL team gave a walk-through of the software, showing how a hypothetical San Francisco renter who had not received his security deposit back after moving out could click through a smart questionnaire and within seconds receive a customized answer. The answer included an explanation of the applicable law and a beautiful heat map of available legal options weighted by time, expense, and the stress involved in pursuing them.
If you have an idea to improve the practice of law, the delivery of legal services, or the back-office aspects of our practices, but haven’t been able to find the time or the team to get the idea started, then this is your event. The first-ever Seattle Legal Tech Startup Weekend will provide you both a platform to get your idea or concept off the ground and people who are eager to give it a go with you. No business plans or technological prowess needed. Show up, have fun, meet folks with a diverse skillset, and create. (There will be great food, too).
The Event. Doors open on Friday, Oct. 10 at 6 p.m., and judging occurs on Sunday evening. On Friday evening, all participants will have the opportunity to pitch a legal tech startup concept. Participants then choose which startup team to join. What follows is two and a half days of innovating, developing, improving, and prototyping the project that you’ve chosen to join. Projects will be judged, on Sunday evening, by a panel of financiers, entrepreneurs, legal academics and others, with prizes going to the winners. Meals, WiFi, tables, and chairs are provided. You bring your laptop, ideas, and enthusiasm.
Work, Wander, or Watch. Even if you don’t have a concept that you’d like to test-drive with the people who understand tech-creation, plenty of others will, and together you can create something new and exciting. Lawyers from all practice areas are welcome, whether you’re tepid about the intersection of law and technology or a computer wiz.
Where. The Seattle Legal Technology Startup Weekend, powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, starts on Friday, Oct. 10 at 6 p.m. at WeWork Seattle. To learn more, visit our webpage. If you need no further convincing, you can register here. Finally, be sure to follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
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