ABA Techshow

Chatbot to help victims of military sex trauma wins Tech for Justice hackathon event

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Tech for Justice

The traditional Saturday morning plenary session of ABA Techshow served as a wrap-up of activities that took place during the preceding three days, and underscored the main themes of the conference.

Techshow faculty president Adriana Linares kicked off the session by announcing the winners of the Tech for Justice Hackathon+ Veterans event.

First place and $5,500 went to Carry On, a project to help victims of military sexual trauma. The service features a chatbot, a system of alerts, forums and real-time chat to connect victims with services and provide them with resources on how to file a report, get help or learn about their symptoms.

Taking home second prize and $2,500 was Veterans Will Center, an interactive estate-planning checkup service to determine what probate documents a veteran should have and where to go to get the documents generated free of charge or at a low price.

The hackathon also awarded a $1,500 third prize to Vet’s Panic Button, an app that quickly links a suicidal veteran with other veterans willing to help, and a $500 fourth prize to The Service Connection, an online portal for veterans to learn more about and apply for benefits. (A list of projects, as well as the people who worked on them, can be found on Devpost).

“We are excited by the tremendous support we had from everyone,” Jeffrey Aresty, president of Internetbar.org and co-organizer of the event, said in an email. “The veterans groups have all committed that they will use the justice innovations our teams invented both for themselves and to be a beacon for all who need access to justice.”

The inaugural academic track at Techshow also presented a quick recap of its activities. Michael Roback, associate director of the law library and director of law school information technology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, did not go into specifics, but he did reveal that the academic track will return at next year’s Techshow, which is scheduled for March 7-10 and will move to the Hyatt Regency Chicago from its traditional home at the Hilton Chicago.

Adrianna Linnares and Judy Perry Martinez

Techshow faculty president Adriana Linares and Judy Perry Martinez, a member of the ABA Center for Innovation’s advisory council. Photo by Monica Burciaga.

The plenary stage then hosted a panel discussion featuring five women: Judy Perry Martinez, former chair of the ABA Presidential Commission on the Future of Legal Services; Debbie Foster, founding partner of Affinity Consulting; Kimberly Sanchez, executive director of Community Legal Services of Mid Florida; Sarah Glassmeyer, project specialist manager at the ABA Center for Innovation; and Mary Vandenack, a partner at Vandenack Weaver.

At the panel, moderated by Linares, the five women spoke about access-to-justice issues and called for greater collaboration and cooperation between people in the legal tech sphere as well as in the legal industry as a whole.

“So very often, we work in silos,” said Perry Martinez, a member of the Center for Innovation’s advisory council. “One of the things we’re trying to do at the center is to bring people together to collaborate and talk more.” She spoke about how collaboration between civil and criminal lawyers helped create the center and encouraged those in attendance to take that spirit of cooperation back to their communities.

Glassmeyer agreed, saying that she would like to see lawyers be more involved in the tech creation process.

The panelists also hammered home the main theme of ABA Techshows past and present. “You have to decide that you want to do something different,” Foster said. “You must create a culture of innovation in your firm or organization.”

Follow along with our full coverage of the 2017 ABA Techshow

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