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Geelong law students team with local lawyers for innovative solutions.

Brainstorming digital solutions for everyday legal profession problems was the brief tackled by Deakin law students at the Deakin Law Students’ Society (DLSS) Geelong’s annual Hackathon.

Held on Saturday 4 August, the event saw DLSS Geelong join forces with local law firm and long-standing sponsor Harwood Andrews where teams competed in an all-day design-sprint for innovative digital solutions. 

DLSS Geelong President Lauren Solomonson says the Hackathon – now in its second year – provides the Geelong law student community with the invaluable opportunity to discuss with practising lawyers how common legal profession issues can be improved with technology. 

‘There are not too many events targeted at students that place them on a level playing field with industry professionals with the goal of working collaboratively,’ she says.

After an informal networking event at the Harwood Andrews offices in Geelong on the Friday evening, the 2018 Hackathon was opened by a keynote address from Sophie Tversky, Victorian president of The Legal Forecast, a not-for-profit organisation run by early-career lawyers who share a passion for advancing the legal practice through technology and innovation. 

‘The overarching theme of Sophie’s address was that we should all challenge ourselves to “think outside the circle”, and push the boundaries of what we “know” in order to help us discover what “may be”. She also encouraged participants to present their final designs through storytelling, to emphasise how these designs could in fact re-shape the way lawyers practice in the digital era. Her closing remarks reminded us that technology for technology's sake is not innovation,’ says Lauren.

Five teams were then allocated five challenges that had been designed by Harwood Andrews’ lawyers to reflect the five stages of a client’s engagement with the firm. 

Addressing each stage, each team – which was made up of both lawyers and students – had to explore how a change in process, or a new technological tool, might be able to assist and better the client experience.

‘Students had a wonderful time working in teams alongside legal professionals tackling the very real issues that they will one day be faced with as young lawyers in a profession that is being radically effected by the integration of technology,’ says Lauren. ‘It was interesting to hear how different teams had tackled the same problem but across the board, teams stressed the importance of having an interactive and informative online presence.’

The winning team – Savoury Dog People – was praised for its re-design of the Harwood Andrews client web portal which included a status bar for tracking the progress of a matter and a series of online animation videos that explained various legal departments and addressed frequently-asked questions.

Lauren says that one of the many highlights of the 2018 Hackathon was the outstanding camaraderie between the students and lawyers.

‘It is fantastic to see some of the Geelong region's brightest young minds and future leaders come together with established legal professionals to share ideas and work together towards a common goal.’

DLSS Geelong facilitates a range of educational (and social) events for law students with a focus on broadening professional networks and preparing for careers.

‘We are a committee elected by our student community, who in turn can best represent the interests of our student cohort,’ says Lauren. ‘We engage with the broader Deakin University community, external stakeholders and our sponsor base  to ensure that students can be fully aware of all of the opportunities out there for them to help them be ready for a career in the legal profession, whether it be via clerkships, graduate roles, internship openings, or volunteer positions.’

For more information on DLSS Geelong and future events please visit: