By Julia Wang
The Fall 2020 semester at LexLab was entirely virtual, which presented us with a new set of challenges and opportunities. While we weren’t able to meet everyone in person, we were able to invite a diverse group of panelists to speak about timely issues in the future of the practice of law.
At the Legal Tech Lightning Talks in September, six LexLab-affiliated startups spoke about their journeys in the legal tech space and shared opportunities for Hastings students to get involved. Four of the startups (Lawgood, Parley Pro, Theorem, and Tusk Legacy) were from our Spring 2020 cohort, and two (ProSe Claims and Rain Intelligence) were from Professor Alice Armitage’s Building a Legal Tech Startup course.
In October, the Legal Operations Panel gathered a group of four experts to talk about how the growing field of legal operations is changing the practice of law. By innovating and finding efficiencies within their own processes, legal departments can become better partners to the rest of their business or organization. This event featured Catherine Krow (Founder & CEO at Digitory Legal), Julie Lee (Director, Legal Operations and Innovation at Levi Strauss & Co.), Josh Rosenfeld (Corporate Chief Practice Officer at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati), and Greg Kaple (Senior Director, Legal Operations Programs at Kaiser Permanente).
Later that month, we focused on another topic of recent discussion at the Deepfakes Panel. Over the years, deepfakes have become easier and cheaper to produce, and many platforms have begun taking a stand against their proliferation online. With our panel of experts, we discussed the state of the technology behind the creation of deepfakes, avenues of dissemination, and potential countermeasures. This event featured Shane Glynn (Adjunct Professor at UC Hastings), Kathryn Harrison (Founder & CEO of FixFake and the DeepTrust Alliance), Brandie Nonnecke (Founding Director of the CITRIS Policy Lab at UC Berkeley and Fellow at the Harvard Carr Center for Human Rights Policy), and Clement Wolf (Global Public Policy Lead - Information Integrity at Google).
At our final event of the semester, we returned to an initiative we started last year with Hack Homelessness 2020. This year’s challenge took the form of a week-long, virtual design challenge and brought together 50 participants from around the world. Six teams of architects, designers, engineers, and lawyers worked together tirelessly to come up with solutions to some of the pressing legal issues that contribute to homelessness and the housing crisis in the Bay Area.
The winning NIMBY Hackers team created What’s in My Backyard?, an app that is shared with people living in a neighborhood where a new housing development is proposed. Through this app, residents can view proposed housing projects, get information about their concerns, take part in polls and surveys, and receive updates on the project throughout its lifecycle. The runner-up Belonging team created a secure, portable, durable and multipurpose storage unit, along with an app for item inventory and tagging, in order to protect unhoused individuals’ belongings from being taken or lost in a sweep. Through QR codes, unhoused individuals can open and secure their mobile storage unit, as well as track its location in the case that their belongings are taken by city officials.