On Thursday I attended the Iron Tech Lawyer Competition at Georgetown Law School. Six student teams presented legal advisory systems they built in a competition that will pit the Georgetown winner against New York Law School winner. It’s great to see an innovative law school class focused on how lawyers can use technology to improve law practice and serve clients more effectively. 

For a mainstream media news report of the competition, see the Nightly Business Report segment (~3 min), Handy Legal Advice, in the Palm of Your Hand.

The competition was planned and hosted by Prof. Tanina Rostain and Prof. Roger Skalbeck in their class Technology, Innovation, and Law Practice: An Experiential Seminar.

Six teams each presented for 10 minutes each and then judges asked each questions for five minutes. The teams built interactive advisory systems using expert system software by Neota Logic. Here are the applications and student teams:

  • Business Entity Adviser – Dayo Lesi ‘12 (joint MBA) & Jack Moore ‘12
  • Copyright Navigator – Bill Cheng ‘13 & Stacey David ‘12
  • Palagora: The Online Marketplace of Legal Vendors – Bob Nichols ‘12 & Seth Shich ‘13
  • Protective Orders Made Easy: On the Beat – Automobile Search Warrant Adviser – Claudia Greves ‘13 & Dustin Robinson ‘12
  • Same-Sex Marriage Adviser – Brittany Clement ‘12, Hallie Sears ‘12 & Lisa Umans ‘12
  • The Citizen Adviser – Konstantinos Rokas ‘12 & Maryam Tabatabai ‘12

The Citizen Adviser won Best Iron Tech Lawyer 2012. The Same Sex Marriage Adviser won Excellence in Design and Copyright Navigator Excellence in Presentation. The judges were:

  • Professor Julie Cohen, Georgetown University Law Center
  • Professor David Johnson, New York Law School
  • Professor Gerry Spann, Georgetown University Law Center
  • Ed Walters, Founder and C.E.O Fast Case

It was great to see such nice team work – and impressive student work product. I was struck by how building these apps – and having to present them in a competition – caused the students to use multiple skills: understand client needs, conduct legal research, develop logic to collect and analyze information, design interfaces and polished reports, assess potential business models, and present to peers and experts.

The judges asked questions that revealed, directly or indirectly, some of the issues interactive advisory systems raise. These include the best marketing approaches, the difference between paper guides and software, issues around the real-time mobile delivery of legal advice, how much know-how users need to use an app intelligently, the unauthorized practice of law, and whether such apps will increase or decrease the role and amount of work for lawyers.

Kudos to Georgetown Law, Prof. Rostain, and the student teams for their creativity and hard work. I hope this contest spurs both law schools and practicing lawyers to think harder about how they can deploy technology to serve clients better.