LSC Legal Aid Hackathon: Jan 2018, New Orleans, LA

Location: Launch Pad, 400 Poydras St. - Suite 900, New Orleans, LA 70130 (5 blocks from the conference hotel)

The 2018 Legal Aid Hackathon was held on Jan 9, 2018 in New Orleans, LA at the Legal Services Corporation Innovations in Technology Conference.  The Legal Aid Hackathon is funded by the generosity of the Legal Services Corporation by a TIG Grant to Bay Area Legal Services. The hackathon was organized by Abhijeet Chavan and Joseph Schieffer.

Hackathon Projects

Projects Overview

Project #1: SMS Client Communication Tools


Develop a modular framework for the delivery of tailored client resources via SMS.

Though tailored content delivery is a cornerstone of many CRM suites, these service are often not as mature or robust in the non-profit space. Making personalized and streamlined resources available to clients in a timely manner has the potential to positively impact client outcomes. The goal is not to recreate existing tools but rather to integrate/implement them under a data model suitable to the access to justice community.

Potential functionality:

  • Appointment reminders Streamlined hearing prep (SMS-only or paired with dynamic web content)
  • Surveys and feedback Enhanced client communication

Project #2: Training Through Games


We are looking for different ways of providing and improving training for our staff. We’re looking at creating a training through game just like this: Or how about an RPG game around staff development—where staff get points/levels for professional development activities. Like Life RPG, but customized for staff:


Project #3: JusticeHub Enhancements

Slides is a social network & hub aimed to aid in the identification, prevention, mitigation and solving of justice issues that affect our communities.

The network has been convened with many events that led to the launch of a "pitch portal" website conceived by the legal aid community for legal aid innovators and stakeholders to jointly develop, showcase, and crowdsource cross-platform technical solutions that will improve legal aid service delivery for LSC -funded programs and partners nationwide. is dedicated to self-defined participation, open source development, attribution, and benefit so that legal aid innovators can work with private and public partners in scalable virtual workspaces with access to powerful tools.

Our possible objectives:

  1. Create and/or improve features to further the site's purpose. Primarily a brainstorming session.
  2. Create skills, desired position, issues and locations tagging: the tagging system will allow users to add tags to their profile, posts, projects so community members have an easier time of searching for content and users that relate to them.
  3. Create a robust project profile


Project #4: Add Google Places AutoComplete to Docassemble


The idea is to integrate this feature: Into the address class in Docassemble Note that field names in Docassemble HTML page match the name in the interview but Base64 encoded.


Project #5: Technology Advances, Due Process, and Ethics


Courts, legal service providers, and others in the justice community are increasingly adopting new technologies like machine learning, Big Data analytics, e-filing, automated triage, and on-line dispute resolution. New technologies always offer a mixture of risks and opportunities.

This will be a brainstorming session to discuss the following issues:

  1. How do decision-makers cut through the hype they read in the press and the sales pitches they hear from vendors?
  2. How we can inform and guide decision-makers so that these technologies are implemented in ways that protect the interests of our client populations?
  3. How do we prevent software vendors from setting policy within courts and government agencies?
  4. When does delegation of traditional court functions to vendors go too far?
  5. Promoting on-line dispute resolution has the potential for access to justice, but how can courts ensure that litigants still have a meaningful right to their day in court?
  6. When courts use AI to help litigants find information, how can they ensure the systems are providing high quality service? How far should legal aid organizations go in delegating tasks like triage and intake to technology?
  7. Court data may be "public information," but when it is available easily on the internet, scam artists can get to a defendant before the process server does. What should court clerks know about the dangers of public access systems?

The discussion is part of series of community brainstorming sessions and will continue at an affinity session later in the conference and at the SRLN conference.

Hackathon Day Information


  • 8:00am - Introductions and Overview
  • 9:00am - Start Development
  • 11:00am - Informal break to connect with other teams
  • 12:15pm - Lunch break (lunch provided)
  • 2:30pm - Informal break to connect with other teams
  • 4:30pm - Team Presentations
  • 5:30pm - End of hackathon

Coffee and snacks will be provided throughout the day

Key Information

  • Date: Tuesday, January 9th (the day before the start of the Innovations in Technology Conference, click here to see conference information)
  • Location: Launch Pad, 400 Poydras St. - Suite 900, New Orleans, LA 70130 (5 blocks from the conference hotel)


Can people that don't work in legal aid participate?

Yes - it would be great to have different perspectives.

Can you give me an idea of the projects that people work on?

A great resource is the list of 2017 projects.

Are there any great blog articles about what the day of the hackathon is like?

Funny you ask, Quinten Steenhuis wrote about his experience last year developing a Google Apps Add-on to promote plain language in the legal aid community.

How much time are participants expected to put in prior to the hackathon?

Generally 1-4 hours to meet with your project team, brainstorm project ideas, and discuss the proposed project.


Other Proposed Projects


Drupal 8 Eligibility Calculator Module

Based on income and location this module would build out the simple javascript page below: or into a full Drupal 8 module that allows you to update poverty level, locations served, etc., using Drupal menu and forms. The purpose of the module is to allow you to plug in your income, zip code, and household size to see if a particular legal service program is able to serve you.

Data Standards

FEMA Appeals Interactive Guide

Objective is to at least have a plan/prototype in place for an attorney-facing guided assistance tool so volunteer attorneys activated after a natural disaster can serve clients more efficiently. The project will be based on FEMA's Individuals and Households Program Unified Guidance.

Digital Paralegal Bot

A digital bot to help people get help for some of the common questions

Chatbot for LawHelp sites

Organizational Search Plugin

Client Evidence Tools

Client-facing tools for documenting, collecting, and building evidence. An existing tool along these lines is, which is designed to help NYC tenants document housing condition problems in a reproducible and organised format.

TILA App/Calculator

A simple tool for lendees to enter the particulars (interest rate, term, monthly payment, etc.) from their loan agreement to determine whether or not the loan has been correctly calculated. This would be of potential use to victims of predatory lending, and could be used to help direct potential clients to the intake process.



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Posted: January 10, 2018