From 2013-2020, alongside Jameson Dempsey, Alan deLevie, Wendy Knox Everette, and John Chadwell, I co-organized a meetup called DC Legal Hackers in Washington D.C. When Jameson and I (both New York City ex-pats) met up in D.C. to discuss recreating the NYC Legal Hackers meetup community I don’t either of us anticipated how big the community would get or what it would mean to our lives. (There are now chapters in over 200 cities on 6 continents). We just didn’t want the fun Brooklyn Law had created to stop for us.
In true analytic fashion, when I started reflecting on what DC Legal Hackers had done over the last 7 years I ran the numbers. We hosted:
- 1 Drone BBQ,
- 2 Digital Security Trainings,
- 5 CopyNights with Ali Sternburg,
- 5 Legal Tech Demo Nights,
- 6 Hackathons,
- 6 Awards Parties featuring 78 Le Hackie winners,
- 10 Partner Events, and
- 33 Panels, with
- 1770 Members.
We covered any topic that touched law and technology, so any topic. Specifically, we hosted events on access to justice, accessibility, artificial intelligence (AI), bodyworn cameras, broadband infrastructure, bug bounties, Census 2020, Congress’ Office of Technology Assessment, data mining, deep fakes, elections, emojis, facial recognition technology, FBI v. Apple, forms, gerrymandering, government APIs, immigration, IoT and privacy, law school, legal citations, net neutrality (twice), online dispute resolution, online harassment & moderation, open educational resources, PACER, patent reform, privacy tools, and legislation, re-entry, scooters, the Serial podcast (and cell phone data evidence), smart contracts and ethereum law, standards organizations, telecom data, the Library of Congress, the sharing economy, the surveillance state, trademarks, and Uber.
While I, and my co-organizers, had law/tech jobs by day as well, we learned so much gathering speakers from DC’s robust law school and tech policy organizations and from our expert membership.
We hosted speakers from: 18f, AccessNow, ACLU-DC, ACT | The App Association, American University Washington College of Law, Americans for Tax Reform & Digital Liberty Project, Association for Conflict Resolution, The Atlantic, Blank Rome LLP, Bread for the City, Center for Democracy & Technology, Cherry Biometrics, Color of Change, Consumer Electronics Association, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Creative Commons US, DARPA Information Innovation Office, Demand Progress, Department of Justice, DC Council, DC Legal Hackers, DC Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs, DC Public Defender Service, Digital Sisters, Fastcase, Federal Communications Commission, Five Thirty-Eight, Fragomen, Frontline SMS, Fundrise, General Services Administration, Georgetown Iron Tech Lawyer, Georgetown Law Technology Review, Google, HackerOne, Huffington Post, Institute for Technology Law & Policy at Georgetown Law, Internet Association, Intellectual Ventures, iSIGHT Partners, ITSP Magazine, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, Lawyer Moms, Legal Services Corporation, Library of Congress Congressional Data Challenge & Labs, Lincoln Network, Mapbox, MapStory, Mercatus Center, Montagut & Sobral Law Office, National Democratic Institute, National Federation of the Blind, National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Office of Policy Analysis and Development, Network Advertising Initiative, Neustar, New America, New York City Economic Development Corporation, OpenGov Foundation, Open Technology Institute, Pubic Knowledge, RECAP The Law, R St. Institute, Security Positive, Social Security Administration, Sunlight Foundation, Tech Congress, TechFreedom, The Lab @ DC, Towson University, Uber Wars, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, Unicode Consortium, Upturn, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Open Data Institute, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Wikimedia Foundation, Workplace Fairness, WordPress.com, and Zwillgen.
And we partnered with like-minded organizations for the Computers, Freedom & Privacy Conference (2014), Washington Council of Lawyers DC Pro Bono Week’s Coding Justice (2018 & 2019), a Digital Security Training with ACLU-DC & Georgetown Law’s Tech Institute, and another with The Boardroom, and with OpenGovHub for Participatory Organizing: From Co-op to Network to Mass Movement.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this community, it was you, and wouldn’t have been the same without you.
We learned so much from each other and there is still so much “hacking” to do to unpack law and technology issues.
Like many meetup organizations, we discontinued meetings during the pandemic. Since then, I and other organizers, have moved on from DC. DC Legal Hackers will need new organizers to continue its community-building and learning. If you are a DC law student, lawyer, technologist, or just someone interested in law and technology studies that would be interested in leading virtual or in-person events for DC Legal Hackers in the future please apply below.