November 14, 2017

Hack Report: Hack the Law

Taking legal services to the twenty-first century, building well-performing teams with new members, and having a fun hackathon.


“How to make legal service more approachable?“

With the right people it is possible to succeed even in impossible situations. We have witnessed this in many hackathons and believe it is the basis for all radical innovation. That is why when we go to hackathons, we are not afraid to include new people into our teams. We know that we can make it work, perform well and bring out everyone’s best capabilities. A good example of how well a collection of hackathon novices and experts can come together and perform excellently (despite lacking the same domain experience), was Hack The Law by Helsinki Legal Tech Lab.

In this Hack Report I will go through how our team formed, stormed a little, started norming the focus, and performed to win Hack The Law. Like some of you little book worms might have caught on, there is little bit of Tuckman’s theory on group forming in this Hack Report. For the rest of you, who have no idea what I’m talking about: prepare to get educated!

Event starting up

Anna-Maria presenting her original idea, which sparked our interest.

Forming — How not to pitch ideas

“Meet your team, us”

On Friday October 13th me, Felix, and Olli stepped inside the brand new Tiedekulma (Think Corner), which resembles a concrete prison but smells like a lumber mill. We were about to hack the law, together with law students in this weekend-long hackathon. After a long and extensive info session on legal tech, we finally got around to hearing some pre-pitching of ideas and choosing the teams we would want to work with. To be honest, none of the initial ideas sounded that great, so we ended up choosing Anna-Maria, one of the law students, because she was the only one who convinced us with her composure and confidence. After some time our team was also joined by Liis and Katri, who are also studying law. Now, we had a balanced, near perfect team and were ready to start building the best legal service ever.

Polaroid picture of the team

Our team name LynxLynx was also the result of a quick storming activity.

Storming — Coming up with a lot of bad ideas and, if lucky, even a few good ones

The slowest day of hackathons is always Friday. Reaching the correct pace is difficult because you’re unsure of team’s capabilities, hopes, and motivation. To find out what your team is able to achieve and how it wants to do it, you have to storm.

We started throwing around ideas and different approaches to this broad challenge. When Friday was getting to a close, one of the mentors talked with us and said “you basically have three ideas here. All of them are not going to fly, so choose one.” And so we did.

Felix and Olli working on laptops

Post-its, canvases, and broad sheets of paper are the ingredients for effective storming.

Norming — The language of co-creation

“I understood some of the words like….”

In order to understand each other and perform, a team has to have norms. This means that it should be clear how you communicate with each other, who does what and so on. In our case, we constantly ran into one slight problem which could have been solved if we had explicitly decided on some norms. This problem was language. At times we would accidentally switch from English to Finnish, and back again once we noticed the problem, which was a bit uncool for one team member.

Performing — Pivotal changes before the finish line

“I think we just have to be a little bolder”

If a well-performing team had to described with an object, it would be a clay pot full of cracks and parts glued together. Teams have to run into conflicts in order to refine their ways of working and to build a sustainable way of working. No conflicts means that you’re not challenging each others’ views enough.

That’s exactly what we did multiple times during the process. About 3 hours before the final presentation, we decided to change one part of the service concept completely, which changed the focus of the the service quite a lot. This decision was not unanimous. It was the result of many questions, convincing arguments, contemplation and a cohesive group effort to create the best service possible.

Adjourning — Taking things further

Directly after the hack we took a step back and decided to look at the entire field of legal technology a bit better. Will something actually come out of our idea? We don’t know. Legal tech as a field has huge potential but also a lot of work ahead. We will present the service concept again at Reboot Hacks Pitching event in Slush and see where it takes us. Let the adventure begin!

About Hack Report

Hack Report is our way of giving back in the context of hackathons. Hack Reports highlight well crafted hackathons and innovation challenges. They also provide glimpses on how we hack award winning solutions.

Follow Perfektio on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram 👍