The results are in! Paul, Weiss wins Josef’s No-Code Big Bang Hackathon

This month, in an unassuming conference room in New York City’s midtown, attorneys and legal ops professionals came together, brimming with enthusiasm, to answer a simple question: how far can we take no-code legal automation? 

This was the Future Lawyer Week US 2.0 Hackathon, affectionately dubbed the No-Code Big Bang. For a full-day on March 14, professionals from leading legal teams across the US and further afield split into five groups to build a digital legal tool in less than a day. Armed with access to Josef, and a brief 45-minute training session, all five teams set about producing some incredible bots to respond to their chosen problem statements. No tech savviness needed – just an open mind, a dash of creativity, and loads of collaboration.

The legal teams

The teams comprised attorneys, legal ops professionals, law students and corporate counsel from organisations like Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Columbia Law School, Akerman, Mayer Brown, JD Group, Deloitte, and Clifford Chance US.

The judges

Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Shannon Frison, CEO and Co-founder of LegalTechnology Hub Nicola Shaver (ex-Paul Hastings), and LegalTechnology Hub Co-founder Jeroen Plink (former CEO of Clifford Chance Applied Solutions), and Josef Co-founder and CEO Tom Dreyfus.

The problem statements

  1. You’ve got mail!: Streamline intake so that you don’t have ad hoc requests coming at you by phone, email, a knock on the door, or carrier pigeon!
  2. Help yourself!: Sick of answering the same question over and over? Or generating the same simple document for clients? Build a self-service tool to allow your clients to help themselves.
  3. Make the complex simple: Create an easily digestible training or assessment tool for the latest piece of mind-boggling regulation to land on your desk. This could be for your clients, or to train your colleagues.  
  4. Data collection: Build a data collection tool that will collect, analyse and decode your business’s data for you.
  5. Work smarter, not harder: Build a bot to help you and your team get your work done faster and better. Think of that letter you have to draft from scratch every time, or that question your junior needs to research every month.

The winners

After careful consideration, the judges awarded the No-Code Big Bang Hackathon first prize to … Paul, Weiss! Their solution for the problem statement ‘Help yourself!’ caught the judges eye for its unique take on a common challenge. The team was made up of Toby Franklin, Practice & Client Solutions Manager at Paul, Weiss; Arshaad Farrouq, Practice Innovation Project Specialist at Paul, Weiss; Brian Leon, Practice Innovation Coordinator at Paul, Weiss; and Mark Potkewitz, an Associate at Bortstein Legal Group.

What did they build?

The North Star Bot. It’s a self-service tool designed to empower attorneys to grow into power users, taking advantage of the full suite of legal tools at their disposal. The bot, in the form of a chatbot, not only helps associates make decisions about which tools to use, but also provides them with information about each tool, and helps them book in training if required.

What are the bot’s benefits?

North Star Bot demystifies the legaltech landscape for lawyers, helping them find the best-fit technology solutions to solve client problems, eliminate low-value work, and free up time to focus on complex legal analysis and decision-making. Attorneys can use their limited time more efficiently, and clients would in turn see more efficient matter spend. In a global firm, North Star works around-the-clock to serve legal professionals, regardless of where they are located.

How can the North Star Bot scale?

The winning team noted that they could scale the bot by:

  • Including the ability to add modular training components for new services and tools
  • A user experience tailored for different legal roles at the firm
  • Leveraging the data to quantify the training that’s in demand
  • Integrating an onboarding process

The hackathon experience

Toby Franklin, Practice & Client Solutions Manager at Paul, Weiss, described the hackathon as a “wonderful experience and a great collaborative effort”. “Josef has an easy, intuitive user interface that allowed us to  develop a tool and see our ideas come to life very quickly.” “You can start putting messages together and building out a flow for a particular chat experience in a matter of minutes. It’s exciting to see that come together and be able to make changes and redirect and restructure that kind of flow very easily as well.

Josef Co-founder and COO Sam Flynn said he was thrilled to see such impactful tools built in such a short amount of time. “Nothing makes me happier than seeing clever legal minds apply themselves to solving real problems using Josef.” “The tools built over the course of the day were some of the most creative and varied I’ve seen, ranging from tools for refugees in Poland, bots to ensure compliance with anti-money laundering legislation in South Africa, to internal efficiency platforms, like the winning bot from Paul, Weiss.” “It still blows me away that people can walk in in the morning knowing nothing about the platform, and by the end of the day walk away with a sophisticated tool and a deeper understanding of legaltech and legal automation.”

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