The 2019 Harvard Legal Tech Symposium and the Legal Hackers International Summit

By Hannes Westermann


In September, I had the pleasure of attending two conferences in Boston and New York, namely the 2019 Harvard Legal Tech Symposium and the 2019 Legal Hackers International Summit. I met both old and new friends from the legal tech community and learnt a lot during the presentations and workshops.


2019 Harvard Legal Tech Symposium

The Harvard Legal Tech Symposium was organized by the Harvard Legal Tech Society at Harvard Law School. It featured a wide range of panels and presentations over 2 days.

The symposium was opened by a keynote by Richard Susskind. He presented a vision of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) being used to reduce the backlog of cases at courts and enable access to justice for all. I am very happy to see the enthusiasm of using AI and ODR to increase access to justice, something which we are focusing on with the JusticeBot project at the cyberjustice Laboratory.

The next sessions featured panels on a wide variety of topics, including emerging technologies in law, technology as used in legal startups and law firms, e-discovery and liability for autonomous systems. The panels showed how legal technology is no longer the past but the present – there were representatives from academia, law schools, law firms and legal startups, among others. I am very happy to be part of such an exciting and flourishing field.

We also had the opportunity to visit the Harvard Library Innovation Labs (LIL). It is an innovation lab based out of the Harvard law library which aims to innovate with the available data. Among other projects, they have digitized all available US Case Law, and built a tool for anyone to discover interesting trends in the data. Check it out here, it is a great example of how open case data can support research.



2019 Legal Hackers International Summit

After Boston, I took a bus to New York, where the Legal Hackers International Summit took place. Legal Hackers is an international, interdisciplinary grass roots movement, which aims to bring together people from design, law, technology and others background to find creative solutions to issues at the intersection of law and technology.

The event brought together chapter organizers from all over the world. It featured many interesting speakers and workshops. Some of the topics covered were Open Legal Education, Open Legal Data, Free and Open Source Legal tech and global tech policy. There were also several keynotes, such as a very interesting presentation by Meredith Broussard on her new book “Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World”. The entire event was streamed and is can be viewed here.

We are in the process of launching Montreal legal hackers to bring this organization to Montréal. Keep your eyes peeled for events coming up soon and follow us on Facebook and on twitter


This content has been updated on 06/29/2020 at 13 h 14 min.