On April 21-22, I attended the Law Without Walls (LWOW) ConPosium at the University of Miami Law School. Hackathons are now common in law, but LWOW is not your typical hackathon. LWOW is a new and unique model of legal learning that unites students, faculty, law practitioners, and entrepreneurs from around the world “to accelerate innovation at the intersection of business, technology, and law through a dynamic, part virtual, collaborative experience that seeds a community of 21st century-ready global change agents and ultimately transforms the way law and business professionals partner to solve problems.”
I have been honored to serve as a mentor in LWOW since it started in 2011 with 16 students at six law schools: the University of Miami (where it was founded by the incomparable Michele DeStefano), Harvard, New York Law School, Fordham, Peking University, and the University College London. The program now includes more than 100 students from 30 law and business schools, including schools in India, China, Israel, Iceland, Australia, and South Africa. Today, the LWOW Community consists of more than 1,200 students, practitioners, academics, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists all over the world. This year my terrific team includes students and advisors from Sydney, Paris, Cyprus, London and Germany.
LWOW starts every January with a “KickOff” event where participants come together in person and learn how to operate, communicate, network and innovate in a multicultural, collaborative business environment. Students are then divided into small teams and each team is assigned a problem facing the legal marketplace. For the rest of the semester, student teams meet virtually with their mentors by video technology to investigate their topic, fine-tune the problem, find a solution, develop a business plan, and co-create a prototype and presentation. Teams present their prototypes, called “Projects of Worth,” at the “ConPosium,” an interactive event attended by members of the LWOW Community. A panel of multidisciplinary judges, including venture capitalists, lawyers, academics, entrepreneurs and business professionals, assesses the substance, viability, and creativity of the projects. The event is highly interactive with music, video, live chat and audience participation.
Being part of LWOW is stimulating, gratifying and great fun, and the various Projects of Worth produced by LWOW teams are ingenious and amazing. Recordings of the teams’ presentations will soon be available on the LWOW website.