Legal Tech Startup Weekend Post-Mortem

Legal Tech Startup Weekend

When you last heard from us, we were in the buildup to Seattle’s first-ever Legal Technology Startup Weekend, held the weekend of Oct. 10, 2014, at WeWork. As a refresher, Startup Weekend is a nonprofit organization that hosts three-day competitions where teams develop and launch startup enterprises.

Our event brought together lawyers, developers, designers, and entrepreneurs to innovate in the burgeoning legal tech market, which includes both software tools for lawyers and law-oriented tools for the public. We sought to crystallize some of the growing energy in the Seattle area in the legal tech space.

And we did! In fact, not only did the event happen, by most reports it was a pretty big success. Sponsorship funds were plentiful, participants had a great time and learned a bunch, the catering was excellent, and the venue was well-suited for the event. Most importantly, though, the projects were high-caliber.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the projects that went from idea to prototype in the space of a short 54-hour weekend.

  • Attorneys are used to juggling multiple projects with lots of complex moving parts, but they often have precious little training in project management, which is a discipline unto itself. KanDo Legal has the vision of bringing cutting-edge project management techniques from the business and technology worlds into the practice of law. The team launched a web portal, designed to be a forum and clearing house to teach attorneys the principle of kanban — a manufacturing system developed by Toyota engineers — which serves as the basis for approaches like Agile and lean project management. If you want to learn more, stay tuned for a CLE in January 2015 with Kan Do Legal founder John Grant, hosted by the WSBA’s Solo and Small Practice Section (free for Section members!).
  • Sitting on a park bench, watching the evening sun silhouette a new city in a far-off land, you may have asked yourself that timeless question: “Can I drink a beer here?” This was the problem sought to be remedied by the Can I Drink Here team, which developed a smartphone app designed to deliver on-the-spot answers to that query. Ultimately using geo-location, the app will advise users on the alcohol laws at a given location. The team proposed that their app could be expanded to be a “travel assistant,” which they call “Stanley,” that will offer legal information to travelers on a host of local legal issues.
  • A team headed by forward-thinking law students from Seattle University School of Law launched a project called Casebooker: a peer-to-peer marketplace to help law students buy and sell casebooks from each other. Traditionally, law students have been at the mercy of pricey school bookstores or remote sellers whose wares may not be accurately advertised, may not be in an acceptable condition, or may not be the correct version, and whose books need to be shipped. Casebooker seeks to connect law students with the books they need, without delay, from their classmates, and at the prices both buyer and seller accept through a technology-assisted marketplace.
  • Have you worked in restaurants long enough that you now chuckle knowingly at Anthony Bourdain’s exposés? The winning team, Restaurant Crisis, developed a tool to deliver real-time legal and crisis-management information to restaurant managers handling emergency situations. Examples include a burst water pipe or a slip-and-fall. Typically, these situations send a restaurant employee racing to the back closet for Volume III of a lengthy incident manual she’s scarcely set eyes on. In lieu of the paper doorstop, Restaurant Crisis provides a smart decision-tree interface that an employee can walk through on a tablet to bring the crisis under control.

If these sorts of projects tickle your fancy, check out the Seattle Innovation and Technology MeetUp spearheaded by attorney Dan Lear. Dan’s MeetUp group attracts a scrappy group of tech folks and forward-thinking attorneys curious about the possibilities in the new legal landscape. Many of us have heard that legal tech is happening somewhere, but now, with the buzz created by the Seattle Legal Tech Startup Weekend, the ongoing MeetUp and future similar events in the offing, that somewhere is our own backyard.