Hacking for justice

Loyola College of Law brings together tech gurus and justice advocates in a competition to develop the best technology-based solution to improving underpriviliged communities’ access to justice

Zayn Abidin, Staff Writer

WEB1The term “hacker” often conjures up negative images, but soon coders from all over Louisiana will come together to give underprivileged groups “Hackcess to Justice.”

Loyola College of Law, in collaboration with the ABA Journal and the Louisiana Bar Association, will host a competition called Hackcess to Justice.  It will take place on March 21 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and March 22 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the College of Law building.

The event, according to the college’s website, is designed to bring together technological and entrepreneurial groups with Louisiana legal aid organizations. Over the course of two days, they will try to develop technology-based solutions to create an avenue for the underprivileged communities’ access to the justice system.

Victoria Luwisch, coordinator for external affairs and graduate studies at the law school, said that the event is important because it will help those Louisiana citizens who cannot afford lawyers better access to the civil justice system.

“These technological solutions will help Louisiana’s legal aid systems to be fairer and more efficient. Representatives from legal aid organizations will be on site to discuss the unique issues that they and their clients face and the types of solutions they seek,” Luwisch said.

She said that individuals or teams can use coding to submit technology-enabled solutions like apps or websites, but submissions must address the specific needs of the state’s legal aid organizations and lawyers in using limited resources to efficiently serve their clients.

William Palin, adjunct professor of law at Suffolk Law School, participated in Hackcess to Justice last year and won.

“I’d never been to such an event so I wanted to see what it would be like and also compete and win the $1,500 prize. This event is necessary because it brings groups of different expertise together, helps in community building and is engaging,” Palin said.

John Love Norris, an attorney and Loyola College of Law alumni, is planning to participate in the event for the first time this year.

“I plan on introducing my idea called the ‘Legal Gap App.’ It will utilize Limited Scope Representation Contracts in the area of family law.  Users will enter the application seeking an attorney for a specific need in family law, and the application will place them in contact with an affordable or pro bono attorney,” Norris said.

Norris added, “I choose to participate in this event because I believe in the underlying premise that everyone deserves a fair shot in the justice system.”