Students Pitch Projects to Experts and Luminaries

May 1, 2015 —

As spring semester draws to a close, Georgetown Law students are not just taking finals and writing papers; some are pitching their final projects to a panel of judges. 

“Your home is flooded, your car is destroyed … you need help. The problem is that during this time of need you don’t even know what you should be doing,” said Christina Costa (C’13, L’16), presenting the Disaster Assistance and Recovery Tool (DART), a legal application that helps hurricane and flood victims determine their federal funding eligibility. 

Costa and fellow students Salsa Ahmed (L’16) and Kyung hun Kim (L’15) presented their app April 22 at the sixth Iron Tech Lawyer competition, which featured five other legal applications designed by students in the experiential class Technology, Innovation and Legal Practice — Access to Justice. Students worked in teams and collaborated with legal service providers and public interest law organizations to build the legal expert systems. The DART app, which was designed for Lone Star Legal Aid in collaboration with Pro Bono Net, won the Best Iron Tech Lawyer award.

One day later, on April 23, students in the inaugural Legislating Privacy practicum course presented five model bills to a panel of judges drawn from industry, NGOs and state and federal government. Special guests also included Sen. Al Franken, D.-Minn., and Dutch Data Protection Authority Chairman Jacob Kohnstamm, who encouraged the students to pursue careers in privacy protection. The bills included a remedy for victims of revenge pornography, a check on the unregulated use of facial recognition systems to track shoppers in a store and the Mobile Health Information Act, which would protect consumers against the potential privacy risks posed by wearable health and fitness apps. 

Jadzia Butler (L'15) and Jim Davy (L’15), who designed the Mobile Health Information Act, made up the Georgetown contingent of the winning team. Because the class was a unique collaboration between Georgetown Law and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, two MIT students, Cecilia Testart Pacheco and Laura Moses, were also on the team. 

Legislating Privacy was taught by Adjunct Professor Alvaro Bedoya, executive director of the Center on Privacy and Technology; Professor David Vladeck, co-director of the Institute for Public Representation; MIT Professor Daniel J. Weitzner, principal research scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory; and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Hal Abelson. For a full list of judges and projects, click here; for more on the class, click here.

Professor Tanina Rostain and Adjunct Professors Mark O’Brien, executive director of Pro Bono Net, and Kevin Mulcahy of Neota Logic co-taught the Technology, Innovation and Law Practice — Access to Justice course. For more on the course and the Iron Tech competition click here.

The Iron Tech Lawyer competition opened a two-day conference on digital tools in law practice. A full day of panel discussions on April 23 covered everything from litigation practice and intellectual property to access to justice and open government. The conference was co-sponsored by the Georgetown Center for the Study of the Legal Profession and the ABA Journal. For more on the conference, click here; webcasts will be available here.