24-hour Hackathon offers techie solutions for Hackney Community Law Centre

The Hackathon at the Hackney Law Centre

The Hackathon at the Hackney Law Centre - Credit: Archant

A bunch of techies spent a solid 24-hours battling it out to come up with the best new system to help Hackney Community Law Centre continue giving free legal advice for those who cannot afford access to justice, in the wake of government cuts.

Over 60 lawyers, developers and computer coders from all over the world worked through the night on Friday and into Saturday for the ‘Hackathon’ at Google’s London campus in Shoreditch.

Organised by LawTech community organisation Legal Geek, the idea was to come up with techie ideas to help overstretched receptionists and lawyers at the centre in Lower Clapton Road make better use of their time - rather than dealing with phone calls, chasing people for documents and reminding them about appointments.

A panel of judges including CrowdJustice founder Julia Salasky and Matrix Chambers barrister Matthew Ryder picked the three most outstanding projects which the centre now hopes to follow up.

The winner was an entire new portal management system built by six members of Freshfields‘ in-house IT team.

In joint second place were two separate text messaging systems created by teams of independent coders — one providing booking alerts; the other translating text messages in other languages into English, before translating responses back into the foreign language.

Cllr Ian Rathbone, chair of the Law Centre, was “very touched” by the enthusiasm of all the young people involved.

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“What this shows to me is that people who are 20-something, and maybe a little over 20 something, are willing to help in whatever they can, and this is encouraging at a time when I distressingly see across the board in the community and charity sector, volunteering dropping for whatever reason.

“We will explore any new ideas and use whatever means is available to ensure we continue to have a democratic and open and fair society, the hall mark of which is fair opportunity of access to the justice system.

“The various Hackathon groups came up with some great ideas which we hope to follow up – if there is any tech firm in tech city that can help us develop some of these ideas we have been given, then please get in touch.”