From post-it notes to reality: Race to the Future

Written by Sophie Tversky, TLF Victoria PresidentOn 4 May, The Legal Forecast Victoria held a world first: Race To The Future. It was a metaphorical race, a ‘legal sprint of the mind,’ a 12-hour action-packed day, comprising five challenges taking place around Melbourne CBD. Each challenge reflected a different area of change in the legal industry: client-centred AI, e-discovery, mental health & wellbeing, access to justice, and legal education & careers.The day began bright and early with a launch at Thomson Reuters – teams were formed, each provided with an Innovation Pack, containing helpful resources and props to guide teams throughout the day…. including lollies to keep their energy levels up! Each team was mentored by representatives of law, technology and professional service firms: Gilbert + Tobin, Janders Dean, Herbert Smith Freehills, Piper Alderman, Allens, Neota Logic, Hive Legal and Law Squared.The starting line, teams at the start of the dayTeams delved into reforming the legal education system, uncovering ways of improving mental health resources and structural support in the court system, designing an AI-platform to assist a client with environmental approval compliance, proposing technological competency standards, and coming up with solutions to assist access to justice in rural and remote areas.Teams had the option of completing two further bonus challenges: to rewrite and transform a verbose contractual provision into plain English making it accessible to the general public and building what the future of law would look like, using the resources and utensils in their Innovation Pack.Teams competing challengesTeams then further developed one challenge outcome to pitch to judges at a final Presentation Evening & Legal Fair. Teams were assessed throughout the day and on the night on their creativity & design, critical thinking, originality & innovation, collaboration and presentation & engagement.The Presentation Evening and Legal Fair We are so grateful to our wonderful final judging panel: Jodie Baker (Founder and CEO of Xakia Technologies, Deputy Chair of ALTA, Co-Chair to College of Law’s Centre for Legal Innovation), Claire Vines (Head of Technology of lexvoco) and Katie Miller (Executive Director of Victoria Legal Aid and author of the report, ‘Disruption, Innovation and Change: The Future of the Legal Profession’). They engaged with teams and interacted with their creations.Final judging panel: Jodie Baker, Katie Miller and Claire VinesKatie Miller, Executive Director of Victoria Legal Aid said:“Fantastic event. I was struck by the number of complex issues woven into the solutions designed by the students. It showed a depth of critical, yet productive, thinking and the strength to be gained by combining that with a playful mindset."Our incredible keynote, Jeanette Cheah from The Hacker Exchange inspired everyone in the room, encouraging the audience to continue to be courageous: “your companies and communities in the future need it’ and to “use your social capital, they’ll advocate for you in meetings and they’ll give you feedback.” Jeannette encouraged participants to use this experience as a starting pad, to further develop ideas.Keynote speaker: Jeanette CheahThen… *drumroll* the winners were announced: with Team Fancy Pens (Team Purple), mentored by Piper Alderman, as the winning team. They won the Race to the Future trophy and the team will co-author articles to be published by Thomson Reuters.Winning Purple Team (Team Fancy Pens)Team Justice League (Team White), mentored by Gilbert + Tobin, won the Best Performing Team in the Access To Justice Challenge Prize. They received credit vouchers towards a workshop/course at General Assembly.Winning team of the A2J Prize, White Team (Team Justice League)Cristabel Gekas received the GlobalX Prize for Innovation, Leadership & Systems Thinking, and was awarded an internship at GlobalX.Cristabel Gekas receiving her award from COO of GlobalX, David Hobley

The Why

Race To The Future aimed to shake up the Hackathon, focus on innovation as process and bring a sense of play to the legal industry. RTTF sought to celebrate doing things differently, focus on both tech and non-tech solutions and delve into the rationale for choice of mode/mechanism for solving problems. This encouraged critical thinking about problem(s) and resolution(s).Culture and environment are key to creating spaces that permit ideas (even crazy ones) to thrive. Our approach was that you can pare down a crazy idea but you can’t build one up! We wanted to create a space where “YES AND..” and “WHAT IF?’  were the default mindsets.

The Feedback

“Race To The Future is an awesome way to meet like-minded law students and legal professionals who are all interested in improving the legal industry through innovation and technology. The day was fun, challenging and entirely practical. I wish law school had these days built into the curriculum!”“Absolutely loved it! Fantastic day, learnt a lot, met a lot of great people, both fellow students and the mentors. Couldn’t recommend the experience more...”“It was absolutely wonderful. I didn’t know what to expect, but it exceeded any expectation I could have had… I can speak for my entire team in saying we all had an incredible time…”“Race To The Future is one of the most enriching and innovative playgrounds for law students who aspire to incorporate technology, creativity and innovation in their future careers”“I loved being part of this event. I was particularly impressed that the event challenged students (and mentors) to not only think about the law and the legal industry in a different way but also provided an opportunity for students gain new skills, like project planning and process mapping. It provided a terrific opportunity to connect with like-minded legal professionals at a variety of different stages of their careers. If this is what the future of law looks like – I am excited.”


Team Green  (Green Lanterns) - Mentored by Janders Dean:

Team Green Lanterns focused on educating youth in rural, remote and regional communities about the legal system and their rights through educational tools such as comic books, online animation, videos and a ‘Law on Wheels’ van.

Team Navy Blue (Deep Blue) – Mentored by Neota Logic:

Team Deep Blue explored changes at law school to prepare lawyers for their future careers and integrating mental health resources into the curriculum. This was to be rolled out to the profession at large by establishing a network of support resources facilitated by technology.

Team Pink – Mentored by Allens:

Team Pink focussed on client-centred AI and used the concept of machine learning to assist clients navigate statutory requirements of environmental protection. Using a decision tree, their prototype could be extended to wider applications – such as building and planning permits.

Team Black- Mentored by Law Squared:

Team Black presented the ‘Montessori Legal Academy’ – a total revamp of the Bachelor of Laws program that integrated technology into the curriculum with the aim of exposing students to a high level of practical assignments and technology.

Team Purple (Team Fancy Pens) – Mentored by Piper Alderman:

Team Fancy Pens developed and proposed standards for legal tech competency and open source standards for legal documents, to be implemented under the Supreme Court Practice Note GEN 5 Technology in Civil Litigation. These standards would support the use of a range of technologies including VR interfacing and beyond.

Team White (Team Justice League) – Mentored by Gilbert + Tobin:

Team White presented their “Court Companion”, an app for first time users of the court system to make the process as non-confronting and comfortable as possible, specifically targeting rural areas.

Team Sky Blue – Mentored by Herbert Smith Freehills:

Team Sky Blue designed an artificial solution platform to assist the construction industry with regulatory compliance and potential legal fees associated with the building process and environmental impact statements.

Team Yellow (Team Buzz Squad) – Mentored by Hive Legal:

Team Yellow focussed on the issue of stigma around mental health in the legal industry and facilitating networks of support for judges, lawyers and clients, including but not limited to compulsory debriefings and post-proceeding support for clients.

Thank you

A big thank you to our major sponsors GlobalX, Thomson Reuters and Dazychain for your generous support and mentorship throughout the day.Thank you to College of Law and General Assembly for being our wonderful venue sponsors.Thank you to Thomson Reuters, General Assembly and GlobalX for generously providing students with further opportunities to grow in their professional development through your prizes.Thank you to the team mentors from Gilbert + Tobin, Janders Dean, Herbert Smith Freehills, Piper Alderman, Allens, Neota Logic, Hive Legal and Law Squared for giving up your day to guide students.Thank you to the team of volunteers and National TLF board members who came down to be part of this event.Other media:Blog post by Lauren Solomonson (Team Black member): channel: (with more to be added):