NYSBA Co-Sponsors Legal App Design Competition at Hofstra
Law Students from more than 20 law schools around the country came together virtually to compete in the National Legal Innovation Tournament co-hosted by the New York State Bar Association and the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra.
Teams were paired with students from Hofstra’s engineering and business programs and legal experts in the field of dispute resolution who act as advisers. The teams are tasked with inventing an app to tackle a problem affecting the legal community and the people they serve.
“We are so fortunate to be part of a university that affords us the opportunity to bring together law, engineering and business students to solve real-world programs and create positive change in our community,” said Judge Gail Prudenti, dean of Hofstra Law. “We thank the New York State Bar Association and our sponsors for their visionary leadership in helping to advance our profession and train the next generation of attorneys.”
The tournament was sponsored by JAMS, the American Arbitration Association and the NYSBA Dispute Resolution Section.
New York State Bar Association President Sherry Levin Wallach was honored to kick off the event at her alma mater. She praised the teams for their interest in joining together to solve problems.
“Lawyers are innovators. This tournament is the perfect example of how we can come together to improve the use of technology in our profession. Collaboration and mutual support is key to build better and smarter outcomes as we wrestle with the problems of the day and try to anticipate those of the future,” she said.
New York State Court of Appeals Acting Chief Judge Anthony Cannataro was impressed by the work of the student teams.
“The law students who competed in this year’s technology innovation tournament are the future leaders of the bar and our courts,” Cannataro said. “I was grateful for the opportunity to explore the creative and cutting-edge solutions devised by the next generation of legal professionals with a uniquely technological perspective. Listening to their ideas and evaluating their solutions to difficult access to justice challenges left me with a great sense of confidence in the future of the legal profession.”
Judges named Ramona Miller and Michael Quintman from St. John’s University School of Law as the winning team for their app Help Decide. It is a free social media platform for crowdsourcing conflict coaching and user-based dispute evaluation, with an added paid option for traditional mediation.
“Competing in this tournament was an extreme pleasure,” said Miller, a third-year law student at St. John’s Law. “As a woman, I knew that there was a special place for me in the tech industry to be able to indicate where the law needs improvement. I think we all understand that technology is the future of law, and access to justice is the main goal for everyone.”
(l-r) Tournament winners Ramona Miller and Michael Quintman, judges in the final round
NYSBA Committee on Technology and the Legal Profession chair Mark Berman served as co-chair of the National Legal Innovation Tournament. He led the endeavor along with John Tsiforas, director of law and technology at Hofstra Law and Dr. Richard Hayes of Hofstra’s Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
“The Innovation Tournament brings real-word relevance to law students and the importance of joining the State Bar,” said Berman. “We are in a high-tech world and we need to embrace technology to bring it to the people in order to help them with their everyday problems. Students left to their own devices saw the need to improve mediation processes using an app so that our citizens can seek to resolve their disputes virtually in a fair and efficient way.”
Finalists will work with Hofstra University’s computer technologists to develop a prototype of the app. The winning team will receive $500 thanks to the generous support of the Dispute Resolution Section of the New York State Bar Association.
In addition to Cannataro, the judges for the final round were:
Ronald J. Colombo, professor of law and associate dean for distance education, Hofstra Law
Domenick Napoletano, treasurer of the New York State Bar Association and a 1980 graduate of Hofstra Law
Sina Y. Rabbany, dean, Fred DeMatteis School of Engineering and Applied Science, Hofstra University
Christine Sisario, director of technology, New York State Office of Court Administration