By Tanya Moeller, working as a data protection consultant in Dublin. She presently leads a working group of the Blockchain Association of Ireland which looks at Blockchain in the context of the General Data Protection Regulations 2018. She welcomes anyone with an interest to contact her via LinkedIn profile or Reuben Godfrey, Director of the Blockchain Association of Ireland. This article was first published here.

For me personally, the Hackathon at the Berlin Legal Tech 2017 was a rollercoaster of emotions. As an Irish solicitor and a self-proclaimed novice to legal tech, I cannot deny that on the first day, I felt a wide range of fears. A fear of the unknown. A fear of the unforeseen. A fear of change.

As I witnessed and indeed participated in the discussions on how blockchains, AI and industrialisation would impact on the legal profession, something began to change.

I realised that I immensely enjoyed the inclusive, inspirational atmosphere. My fears made way to feelings of enthusiasm and optimism.

Making sense of a multitude of ideas that generated collaboratively.

Over and over people repeated the same mantra: as the old makes way for the new, opportunities emerge. Even in one of the most traditional of professions.

Data protection and privacy, especially in the context of the GDPR, was always going to be a sub-topic of interest for attendees, who were a mixed bunch of lawyers, legal engineers and developers.

The question was, how could they be explored in a legal tech context, specifically, a Hackathon? Could we come up with issues, concerns, even prototype software?

Hackathon: Pitching the Projects

I found a similarly minded attendee, Hauke. On the first day, we pitched a data protection and privacy project at the Hackathon. Before long, a large number of people showed interest so that we split into two teams.

One group zoned in on enhancing privacy awareness of Ordinary Joe. A personalised world map would illustrate the geographical distribution of Joe’s name across the globe, based on his interaction with companies such as Facebook. In this way, Joe would become more aware of data protection in everyday life.

Although this idea was not pitched at the Award Ceremony, the team is currently looking proactively at developing it further, potentially for non-commercial use.

The second team developed Data Protection Buddy, an online compliance tool for companies. SMBs can check compliance with the European data protection framework, which will come into force in May 2018 using a questionnaire type model.

In this way, Data Protection Buddy generates an individualised action plan, which highlights problem zones and suggests next steps to achieve full corporate compliance.

An impressive pitch resulted in an amazing second prize at the Award Ceremony. A big round of applause to the team! No doubt this idea will find a commercial application very shortly.

As such, I say that the data protection and privacy working groups are a great example how the Hackathon created collaborations which will last beyond the mere few days in Berlin.

All that brainstorming, that creative working with ideas, that inclusive interacting between participants?—?all that has left a lasting impression on me.

I come away thinking that there is indeed hope for my profession. Lawyers will one day embrace technology fully in their daily working lives. It is not a question if, but how and when.

In the meantime, I hope that the energy created by Berlin Legal Tech will linger on in my mind, as well as in the corridors of solicitor firms and legal tech labs, for quite some time.


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