April 25 Note - Part 1


“Unleash the talent and creativity of the world’s legal industry to collaboratively innovate solutions to the most pressing legal, regulatory, and civil society challenges posed by the global crisis that is currently engulfing the world.”


As of 10 AM this morning in London, over 850 of you have registered from over 100 organizations and over 50 countries. After only a week since registration opened, that’s remarkable. Congratulations, and welcome to the Financial Times Innovative Lawyers – Global Legal Hackathon Challenge!


The world is in the midst of a crisis unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetimes. What began as a health crisis from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly transforming into a general crisis affecting every part of society. Entire industries are near collapse. Governments are under pressure. Vulnerable populations are under increasing threat, and hundreds of millions of people may be pushed into poverty. The issues are far too massive for individual citizens or even large organizations to tackle on their own, but we have the unique opportunity to harness the collective imagination, experience, and innovation of the world’s legal industry to solve some of the pressing challenges that we face.

From theory to action – using hackathons to drive real innovation

I am a passionate advocate of the hackathon format for innovation, and this led me to create the Global Legal Hackathon in 2017. Since then, more than 15,000 people around the world have participated in the annual GLH events, leading to the launch of both non-profit and for-profit companies. Done correctly, a hackathon is a uniquely powerful platform for innovation for the following reasons:

1)         A very tight time frame forces rapid decisions.

2)         Low cost/low risk means more freedom to think creatively.

3)         Teams can harness the combined expertise of highly diverse professionals, ideally with talent from many organizations. Something that we have seen in the GLH over the years is that the more diverse the team, the more innovative and impactful the outcome.

4)         The end goal for each team is a working product or service with real market validation. Theory is not enough. Action is not enough. Teams must deliver a new product or service.

In other words – go fast, go with maximum creativity, and create something real.

When conducted according to these principles, hackathons are one of the ultimate “learning laboratories” for innovation. And for this global hackathon, not only will all of us be learning, but some of the projects that we create will change lives around the world.

The format of the FTIL-GLH Challenge

  •           The event formally starts on April 27th in each time zone around the world and ends on May 17th in each time zone.
  •           It is expected that all teams will work remotely.
  •           There are no awards, no judging, and very few rules. We are doing this for maximum benefit to the world. The more projects that succeed and make an impact, the better.
  •           There are four key concepts in the structure of this event: Organizations, Challenges, Participants, and Projects.
  •           Projects will be presented for global viewing at the end of the event. Large corporations, law firms, non-profits, and governments around the world will be invited to sponsor or support the most promising projects, after the conclusion of the event.
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