Lawyers Can Hack It
Many 2Ls at NYU make their first journeys to Brooklyn following their 1L years in search of more affordable housing and hipster cred. While I’ve been to the southern borough many a time, I made my first trip there during my 2L year this past weekend.
The Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy (“BLIP”) Clinic’s first-ever Legal Hackathon. With Instagram’s $1 billion sale to Facebook, the buzz of the NYC startup ecosystem, and NYU Poly’s continued success operating in the recesses of my mind, the concept of a hackathon for lawyers was too mesmeric to turn away.
Once there, I found it strange to be enjoying myself and yet still feeling productive. (Not that sitting in the library at Vanderbilt Hall for eight hours on a Sunday can’t be equally pleasing.) Highlights included:
- A keynote address from the coiner of the term “net neutrality,” Tim Wu,
- A chat with the exceedingly tech-literate law professor Jonathan Askin,
- A coffee break with a former law-student-turned-entrepreneur and a demo of his hackathon-friendly app, Pearescope,
- A chance to meet with the insightful and incredibly approachable venture capitalist, Charlie O’Donnell, and
- A romp around my former Lawyering professor’s alma mater.
The substantive portions of the day involved exploring ways to prevent becoming “yes, but” lawyers in a “why not” world and ways to add transparency to both local government and business. Ideas included crowdsourcing the next mayor of New York City and creating a Freedom of Information Act-type system for private companies looking for funding. It was a lot of fun and inspiring to find law students and technologists with like interests and a passion for civic reform through technology.
My two major takeaways from a Sunday that saw me waking up before 9:00 a.m.:
- Going to law school at NYU puts on tap a legal community and resources that you really cannot fully contemplate until you actually arrive here.
- There may yet be a place for lawyers in a technologically driven “why not” world.