On the weekend of the 22 February, Mary Ho, a Centre volunteer, led a team of “hackers” to success at the Hong Kong edition of the Global Legal Hackathon held in February. The team was awarded the over all title of “Hong Kong Champion 2019” and also won the “Best Public Benefit Legal Tech Award 2019” at the event. Their platform, called Access Our Community (AOC), is a pro bono case matching platform that will more efficiently connect legal service NGOs and pro bono clearinghouses with the growing network of pro bono lawyers (including individual, private practice and in-house lawyers). AOC will now go to the second round to represent Hong Kong in the global hackathon competition and, if successful in the semi-finals, will have the chance to join the gala and final round in New York City.
The idea of the platform was inspired by all the administrative pain points that Mary encountered when setting up the in-house pro bono platform at her company. She realized that in order to access pro bono opportunities, she needed to join several NGO mailing lists (sent only on a monthly basis) and look through a long list of available cases and projects. Once identifying a suitable project, Mary also needed to liaise with her partner law firms (since, as in-house counsel, she doesn’t have professional indemnity insurance, that is required by the Hong Kong Law Society for lawyers to provide legal advice). After several exchanges between herself, a partner law firm, and the NGO, she was disappointed to learn that the pro bono case had already been matched.
Mary was inspired to find a better way to exchange information about available pro bono cases so she jumped at the opportunity to join the Global Legal Hackathon. Arriving to the hackathon only with her idea, Mary attracted a talented and motivated team to further develop the platform. Allan Bell joined the hackathon as a mentor for the Hackathon and helped the team think innovatively about how to find a solution that is useful to stakeholders in the pro bono community, not only in Hong Kong, but globally. CPBS were pleased to be part of this hackathon and look forward to future opportunities to engage the legal community to increase access to justice. We firmly believe that technological solutions – though not a silver bullet – can bring huge benefits for improving access to justice.
And we’re rooting for AOC to spearhead the charge!