Ashurst Advance team builds protypes in 24 hours at its first legal hackathon.

It’s no secret that the provision of legal services is changing. Major international law firms have understood that the challenges and the disruption of digitalization and technological solutions based on legal tech have to be faced. Ashurst believes that the best solutions for clients can only be found by working together with them. The Ashurst team assesses their needs when it comes to tailor-made legal advice and takes their excellent work to a new level using the latest state-of-the-art legal technologies.

Some of these evaluated needs form the basis of use-cases that have been tailored to specific legal issues by experienced Ashurst lawyers. At the first Ashurst Legal Hackathon held in Frankfurt in May 2019, students were invited to design, code, develop and present a prototype digital products for the assigned use-cases using BRYTER.

Giving Legal Tech a Face

An innovative team

The objective of the Ashurst Advance team is to transform client service by continually evolving the firm’s legal services delivery in order to provide real value and help clients achieve their business objectives in a highly cost effective way.

Chris Georgiou

Christopher Georgiou is a partner and head of the global Ashurst Advance division, the firm’s integrated “NewLaw” offering which focuses on the three fundamental areas of innovation in legal services: resources, process and technology.

Tara Waters

Tara L. Waters is a corporate partner and co-CEO of Ashurst Digital Ventures, the firm’s in-house development and investment arm of Ashurst Advance, providing innovative technology-led solutions to clients.

Michael Holzhaeuser

Dr. Michael Holzhäuser is a competition partner in Germany and has extensive experience in advising clients on the challenges with digital transformation of their businesses and in developing client solutions using state-of-the-art legal technology and legal project management. He leads the legal tech and innovation initiatives in Germany and heads the German Legal Tech Working Group. He is co-initiator and member of the advisory board for the postgraduate program “Legal Process Management” at the German Graduate School of Management & Law in Heilbronn, Germany, where he also lectures on disciplines “Legal Project Management for Compliance and Investigations.”

The challenge

Technology transforms the way legal services can be provided to clients. Ashurst believes that legal technology and digitization will be at the core of the future legal model and have therefore positioned technology at the heart of our strategy.

At the first Ashurst Legal Hackathon, 22 student ‘hackers’ attended in Frankfurt, from academic backgrounds such as law, legal economics and information technology. The students were split into 4 teams, each mentored by a ‘subject matter expert’ from the relevant practice group. Over a 24-hour competition, each team built a pilot of a digital tool using the BRYTER platform and then pitched their product to a panel of expert judges. The tools showcased were:

  • a corporate policy analyzer (the winning project);
  • a tool for evaluating contracts from an antitrust perspective;
  • a GDPR compliance tool which helped users deal with Subject Access Requests; and
  • a security token offering term sheet generator.

The practical prototypes developed in the Hackathon are being reviewed by the Ashurst Digital Ventures team, turning them into real life client-facing tools.

The solution

Ashurst Advance is the “NewLaw” division, focused on innovation and transformation of legal services, and legal tech and digitalization are at the heart of the offered services. An excellent team of technology professionals and coders use leading technologies in their daily work, such as contract automation, document review supported by machine learning, document creation software or virtual platforms for more efficient collaboration.

The team continuously tests the latest technological developments in the market in order to expand or adjust a range of services. Ashurst Advance and Ashurst Digital Ventures are not ‘just another tech hub,’ however; they are fully integrated into the firm and Ashurst Advance is a corporate division of Ashurst globally. In Germany, a legal tech working group which spans all practice groups is working closely with Ashurst Advance and with clients.

Ashurst Legal Hackathon

Law firms need to do much more than just digitalize parts of their legal work – they need to digitalize their business model. Ashurst Digital Ventures, Ashurst Advance’s in-house development and investment arm, recently launched and focuses on developing innovative technology-based solutions for our clients. Partnerships with clients design and develop digital products and transform the way they use legal services using the latest technology.

Ashurst Legal Hackathon

Finally, the strategy also includes alliances with selected technology providers, so focus can stay on delivering excellent results for clients – and the best way to achieve this is to combine legal expertise and talent with the best technologies available in the market.

Ashurst Legal Hackathon

The results

The first Ashurst Legal Hackathon in Frankfurt am Main was just the beginning of an emerging global initiative. The close cooperation with clients, technology providers and students of a technologically completely different generation forms the perfect basis for creating innovative prototypes which will be further developed by our experts. Excitingly some of these pilots will turn into client facing tools. We will continue to regularly conduct hackathons within the various practice groups globally to create prototypes for tools that our clients have on their wish-list.

To see how else Ashurst has harnessed legal tech for high-achieving ends, read about their 2022 hackathon in partnership with McLaren. You can also book a demo of BRYTER today to see it in action yourself.

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