I had just a wonderful time at DC Legal Hackers' first ever hackathon last Saturday. Founded by Rebecca Williams, Jameson Dempsey, and Alan deLevie, the DC group is juuuust starting out, and inspired by the successful New York Legal Hackers group.
You can see some nice pictures of the event rounded up on the Open Gov Foundation blog, and details (including spreadsheets...of tweets! spreadtweets.) on the Legal Informatics Blog. The event was kindly hosted by Fastcase.
I was just a participant, so I probably missed a bunch of stuff, but some neat things I saw occur:
- David Zvenyach, chief lawyer for the DC Council, continued his personal transformation into a role model for government lawyers everywhere by working on a Python scraper for DC's procurement contracts. In case you forgot, Zvenyach is also the one responsible, on the government side, for opening the DC Code back in April.
- The team at the Open Gov Foundation forked StackEdit to devise a Markdown-based format for legal drafting. Alan deLevie wrote a tool to autolink legal citations inside it, using my unitedstates/citation parser as a foundation.
- The Legal Services Corporation (lsc.gov) showed up and worked on using maps to make its legal service delivery more effective.
- The organizers inducted a bunch of people into using GitHub by getting them working on a little GitHub-powered website for the DC Legal Hackers group itself.
- I got momentum on my project to make a friendly, public domain glossary for the United States, with help from Lindsay Young, Erroll Grannum, and @keith5000. Seamus Kraft recorded a video of me presenting about it at the day's end.
A productive day all around, and a great piece of community bonding. The plan is for DCLH to run a hackathon every quarter, so another's not far off. In the meantime, next up is a night of drinks and talks about increasing basic access to legal services. DC is a more interesting place to work in technology every year, and things like DC Legal Hackers make me feel like I'm in the right place at the right time.