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Legal Industry Hackathon Awards Ideas for Combating Bias Promoting Diversity

Xiumei Dong LAW.COM

Teams of law firm leaders and in-house counsel were giving out candies, waving green flags, and even dressing up as Ghostbusters in San Francisco on Friday, hoping to win over judges and audience members at the second Diversity in Law Hackathon.

The 10 teams first got together in July in Chicago, where they were assigned specific diversity and inclusion challenges in the legal industry to address, such as fostering a healthy pipeline of diverse candidates, pay parity and leadership inequalities.

On Friday, they reconvened to pitch their ideas, or “hacks,” at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

In the first diversity hackathon, which kicked off in February, judges at the July pitch event at Chicago’s Northwestern Pritzker School of Law selected a diversity data tracking system and website as the winning idea.

Caren Ulrich Stacy, founder of the Diversity Lab, which organized the event, said the second session had to wait list about 50 law firms and legal departments.

“These are teams that are incredibility diverse individuals,” Ulrich Stacy said. “The teams were purposefully put together with all these diverse thoughts and backgrounds in place because we knew that will create a better outcome.”

The teams that gathered Friday in San Francisco pitched their ideas to a panel of judges that included Visa chief diversity officer Jolen Anderson; former Starbucks general counsel Paula Boggs; Bank of America associate general counsel Beth Ybarra Crean; former Morrison Foerster chair and current Major, Lindsey & Africa managing director Keith Wetmore; Northwestern Pritzker School of Law outgoing dean Daniel Rodriguez; Bloomberg BNA CEO Josh Eastright; and two judges from ALM: American Lawyer columnist Vivia Chen and Lisa Helem, editor-in-chief of The National Law Journal.

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