Micha: Jan-Hendrik and Philipp, thanks for taking the time. Glad to have you here on the Legal Tech Blog. There is a lot of buzz around your Legal Tech Lab in Frankfurt. What is it all about?
Jan-Hendrik/Philipp: The Legal Tech Lab is a student initiative located at the Goethe-University in Frankfurt, Germany. The initiative was founded in December 2017 and aims to inspire students to get in contact with legal tech and legal innovation topics. In this way, the Legal Tech Lab offers a platform to develop networks and ideas regarding the future of law in a digitalized environment.
What is your background?
We are both law-students from Frankfurt in our second year. Both of us were born and raised in Stuttgart in Southern Germany. After our A-levels, both of us spent a year abroad. Jan-Henrik went to New Zealand and Philipp chose London. After returning to Germany, Jan-Henrik started studying business psychology in Stuttgart and Philipp started political science in Frankfurt. Both of us were a year into our Bachelor degree studies with law as a minor subject, when we discovered our real passion for law. So we started studying law in Frankfurt in summer 2016. That was when we met and ever since became friends and developed the Legal Tech Lab.
What was the motivation behind the project?
Our main goal is to raise awareness for legal tech and legal innovation topics on a student basis. The University has not picked up this very important topic yet, so we wanted to create a student-based project dealing with the chances and challenges of progressive digitalization in the law branch. Furthermore, we wanted to enable fellow students to improve their IT skills and raise their general understanding of digitalization topics and coding. In order to achieve this, we planned in three steps: Step one would be to raise the awareness of legal innovation issues. In a second step, we want to provide opportunities to gain and improve valuable skills necessary when planning a legal tech project. In a third step, we want to give the opportunity to apply the developed skills in specific projects. Right from the beginning, we aimed to involve as many faculties as possible in order to get a wide range of approaches on the topic.
The Legal Tech Lab is a project evolving with the ideas of its members – we want to offer a place for students to rethink legal practices and shape ideas for a digitalized legal world.
How did you get in contact with Legal Tech?
We seperatly got in contact with Legal Tech issues through different articles on the topic. During a coffee break we happened to speak about calculating the validity of arguments before using them in court and from that point dived deep into all kind of legal tech issues together. Frankfurt is a great place to broaden your mind in these terms, being home to many legal tech startups and branch-leading law firms. This made it very easy to connect with a welcoming legal tech community where we found our first supporters and partners for the project.
Is there a business case for the project?
There is no real business case for the Legal Tech Lab itself as it is a student initiative with a non-profit status orientated on improvements of education. We do encourage and support the development of ideas, which could lead to business cases, though. That means possible profitable projects are initiated on the basis of the Legal Tech Lab before making their own way as a spin-off company.
What are the lessons learned as of now?
The general problem in the legal tech scene much is talked about but not much is actually practiced. Right from the start, we do not only want to use the current hype in order to talk about relevant issues but also want to work on case examples. So basically, the lesson learned now is fewer words, more deeds.
How is it possible to participate as a student?
We are open to students from every background, regardless of the educational background and focus of their studies. As soon as the club is officially registered, we will provide an entry form on our website within the section ‘participate’. We are looking forward to welcoming students who are willing to take over major roles in the initiative such as public relations, project management and
What are your goals for 2018?
We want to achieve a significant grow in the number of members and get working in task forces on specific projects. Furthermore, we want to build up a series of seminars and workshops in order to provide the promised education program. Our main goal for 2018 is the first Legal Tech Lab hackathon on a current legal problem with a jury of representatives from legal start-ups, law firms and business.