Suffolk University Law School Boston, MA

August 7 – 8,2014


The Challenge

Create a technology-enabled solution to address one of the five points raised in the Legal Service Corporation of America’s 2013 report on the use of technology to expand access to justice.


Mission Statement

The ABA Journal and partners are hosting Hackcess to Justice, a hackathon to encourage the legal and tech communities to develop innovative tools to help break down the barriers for low income individuals in need of access to lawyers and legal services for civil legal issues.


Participants in the hackathon should refer to one of the five points raised in the Legal Services Corporation of America’s 2013 report on the use of technology to expand access to justice. A complete copy of the LSC Report is available here.  Participants may be individuals or multi-person teams.


Submissions should be in the form of a technology-enabled solution that addresses one of the points in the LSC report, while keeping in mind the more general goal of ensuring broader access to justice.


The judges will award three prizes: $1500 to the first place submission; $1000 to the second place submission; $500 to the third place submission.   If a winning submission is by a team, the prize money will be shared equally with all participants on the team.



  1. Participants must be U.S. citizens or legal residents and have a valid social security number to be eligible for a prize. 
  2. Participants are responsible for all taxes associated with winning a prize.  Winners will be required to complete tax forms prior to receiving a prize.
  3. All participants and spectators must have a valid photo id and provide it to security at Suffolk University Law School in order to enter the building.
  4. All participants must register on hackcesstojustice2014.challengepost.com and submit their final projects via the challengepost submissions link for HackcesstoJustice2014. Participants may register at any time but no later than the start of the hackathon at 9 am on Thursday, Aug. 7,  2014.
  5. Valid submissions for the hackathon are any type of technology-enabled solution that addresses one of the five points in the LSC Report and may include code, software, mobile applications, websites or blogs. Submissions may also be multiplatform. For example, an online database for facilitating general legal inquiries could feature a website, mobile application, and/or web-enabled business model for maintaining functionality.
  6. All submissions must be original to the hackathon and the work product must be produced within the time span of the hackathon. Judges may, in their sole discretion, disqualify any submission that they have reason to believe was substantially created before the start time of the hackathon.
  7. Teams are not permitted to begin actual coding or other work on their submission until 9:01 am on August 7, 2014. However, teams are permitted to brainstorm solutions and put design concepts to paper before the hackathon officially begins.
  8. Participants are permitted to form teams in advance of the hackathon, but every member of the team must register for the hackathon and note whether they are part of a team. Teams also may form at the hackathon.
  9. Submissions are due by 4:30 pm on August 8, 2014 and must be submitted through hackcesstojustice2014.challengepost.com. There will be no extensions of the deadline.
  10. On Friday, August 8, 2014, at 5:00pm (EDT), at least one member of each registered team must appear in person at Suffolk Law School, 120 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02108 to present and explain their team’s application for the benefit of the judges.  The  presentation should explain  (1) the problem being addressed in the LSC report and (2) how their team’s submission helps to solve the issue. The order of presentations will be determined after the submission period ends on August 8th.
  11. Presentations may not last more than 5 (five) minutes.
  12. A team or individual participant’s failure to present to the judges may result in its disqualification from the hackathon.


IP Representations

By submitting an entry, participants warrant that their Hackathon entries consist of original work products of each individual or their team, and in no way infringe on the intellectual property rights of another person or entity. The ABA, the ABA Journal and its partners make no claim to any intellectual property, source code, or applications developed as part of the event.


Teams are encouraged to make their work and results publicly available. Access to information advances access to justice!

Media Release

As a condition of participation in the Hackathon, participants grant organizers, sponsors, and members of the media rights to publicly disclose competition and event information, explain and review entries and ideas developed and presented during the event, and to display any event related photos, screen shots, and links to publicly available demonstrations of event entries and materials.


Judging Criteria

Prizes will be awarded to the top three submissions. The judges will take into account a variety of factors and assess the overall quality and performance of the entries produced during the event, including but not limited to:


  • Execution

-Does the final product work?

      -How close to completion is the submission?

-How user friendly is the submission for its intended audience?


  • Innovation

-How unique and innovative is the entry?  Is it distinguishable from other products or services available in the market today?


  • Impact (as indicated from presentations of the final work product from the hackathon)

-What problem does the finished product hope to address/solve?

-How critical is the need that the product addresses?

-Does the app/outcome have any ability to grow or change over time?


  • Overall Creativity and General Appeal




The decision of the judges is final.



*Teams are encouraged, but not required, to include a lawyer or current law student in order to best meet the judging criteria. However, lawyers and access to justice experts will be available on site at Suffolk University Law School for consultation during the hackathon for all teams and individual participants.


SPONSOR:  American Bar Association, 321 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL  60654