This packed out room was the start of a 24 hour sprint, trying to find an innovative, tech based solution to many of the challenges faced when trying to modernise our courts system and increase access to justice.
With teams from as far away as Australia, this was a hotly contested event, with more people applying to take part than the organisers could take in.
CoLin - an acronym of 'courts online' - was the product of a joint team from the Law Society of England and Wales and legal tech firm Wavelength Law. CoLin combined policy, law and tech, all working together…….and spoiler alert WINNING. But how ………
By telling the story of when Steve met CoLin, let me share that story with you.
Steve has a little girl called Katie. Katie has been sick with a chest infection for a while. She has no history of asthma, so Steve takes Katy to the doctor, who asks Steve if he has any damp in the house. 'well, yeh I do, but its not my house I rent'.
Steve leaves the doctors surgery confused and worried, so he goes home and looks on the internet for some help and advice, and he finds CoLin – CoLin is a legal pathfinder, he will help steve navigate his issue, identify what the cause is, what rights he might have , what action he might be able to take, and importantly how to get legal advice if he needs it. CoLin interacts with Steve through a voice activated system - no need to fill long forms, CoLin can populate the information he needs through discussion.
Through a discussion CoLin works out that the next step for Steve is to write to his landlord, setting out the facts of the issue and asking for the problem to solved. The letter is pre populated for Steve using the information gathered so far, and an option to add in things such as pictures, and this is then sent to the landlord. A reminder is set for CoLin to remind Steve to check if a reply has been received in a few weeks time.
In the back end, CoLin displays on its website the various stages in the process and where Steve is on this journey. Steve can also see the conversation that he has had with CoLin, and is reassured to see that any documentation created or scanned in is collated into an electronic bundle.
Fast forward a few months, the issue has not been resolved. Steve's landlord has not resolved the issue and Steve is promoted by CoLin to look for some advice from a legal advisor. CoLin draws from public source information a list of local solicitors from which steve can choose those he wants to approach.
The euphoria of creating something together and in just 24 hours is indescribable. Winning was the icing on the cake, but what really matters, what will remain with me and I hope with all those that took part is what can be achieved by disciplines collaborating, in the pursuit of public interest.