FAQs & Invitational Rules
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can students participate without a faculty supervisor?
The Iron Tech Lawyer Invitational is designed to encourage the creation of academic courses focused on the thoughtful development of technology and data-driven solutions to help improve the civil justice system. Students must complete the project in an academic course, clinic, or supervised independent study. The Faculty Interest Form must be completed by a professor. Students at universities that do not currently offer an appropriate course are encouraged to find a professor who will supervise them in an independent study.
Is there a minimum number of students per team?
There is no minimum number – teams may consist of only one student or more.
Does the school have to be within the United States?
No, any accredited academic institution of higher education can participate, including schools around the world. Student projects and submission materials must be in the English language.
Does the Supervising Professor need to be a member of the Full-Time Faculty?
No. Adjunct professors, lecturers and other teaching professionals are eligible to sponsor a project, provided they are listed as a professor for the academic course, clinic or supervised independent study in which the project will be completed.
What happens if a faculty member teaches multiple courses that could be eligible for the Invitational?
The Invitational accepts only one student team per faculty member. We expect that many professors will run their own mini-Iron Tech Competition within their class, program, or between courses that they teach within their university to select which student team proceeds to the Invitational.
Are non-law faculty eligible to send teams to the Invitational?
Absolutely. The competition is open to all departments within a university, not just law schools, though projects must focus on a civil legal tech or data science solution developed for a legal services client.
What is a “good” project and how will projects be evaluated?
Projects are evaluated for: usefulness, completeness, ambition and creativity, design, and student/team presentation. Factors to be considered include usability, sophistication, scalability, sustainability, impact, and the solution’s ability to address the client-organization’s needs. Projects should not replicate existing tools or data projects serving the same need. Judges will consider how well students are able to present their solution.
When sourcing potential client projects, professors are encouraged to think about scope, complexity, and the ability of students without technical backgrounds to participate in the team. Professors are encouraged to contact the organizers to receive recommendations about developing this type of curricular offering at their school. We encourage teams to look at the examples of past winners on this site.
Do students need to have technical skills? Do the projects need to involve coding?
Students do not need technical skills to participate in the competition, and projects need not involve coding. For example, Georgetown’s Iron Tech course intentionally encourages students without prior technical experience to participate. Projects may be completed by utilizing “no-code” software, such as the Neota Logic platform.
What is the origin of the Invitational?
The Iron Tech Lawyer Invitational is an extension of Georgetown Law’s Iron Tech Lawyer Competition, the final pitch presentation in Professor Tanina Rostain’s course Civic Tech: Digital Tools and Access to Justice. Now in its eleventh semester, the Iron Tech Lawyer course has seen hundreds of students collaborate with legal non-profits to design and develop apps that help users navigate the justice system, find legal resources, and apply for legal aid. The 2020 Invitational is the first time Georgetown has expanded the competition to other schools, including non-lawyers. It is made possible by generous support from the Bigglesworth Foundation.
How do I learn more about the competition?
For questions or to schedule a conversation with Professor Rostain or another of the Invitational’s organizers, contact TechInstitute@georgetown.edu.
2022 Invitational Rules:
Projects will be evaluated by a panel of experts in access to civil justice, legal design and technology.
The Iron Tech Lawyer Invitational is designed to encourage the creation of academic courses focused on the thoughtful development of technology and data-driven solutions to help improve the civil justice system. Student teams must be supported by a professor, and complete their project in an academic course, clinic or independent study.
Teams may consist of an individual student or a larger group. Students from any accredited academic institution of higher education may participate, including schools outside of the United States. All materials and the project pitch must be submitted in English.
Professors who are interested in sending a student team to the Invitational must meet the following criteria:
- The students must complete a student project in an academic program, i.e. in an academic course, clinic, or supervised independent study.
- The student project must involve the creation of a technology tool or data project that strengthens legal service delivery or otherwise improves access to the civil legal system.
- The student project must be developed for a “client” that is a non-profit legal services provider, other non-profit, or law school clinic that assists people with their civil legal problems.
- The client must be involved with the project from an early stage in order to serve the role of a subject matter expert and allow students to develop professional skills.
- The student project must be supported by a faculty sponsor, such as the teacher of the course or supervisor of an independent study. Adjunct professors, lecturers and other teaching professionals are eligible to sponsor a project, provided they are listed as a professor for the academic course in which the project will be completed.
- Sponsoring faculty need not be law faculty. The competition is open to all departments within a university, though projects must focus on a civil legal tech or data science solution developed to improve access to the civil justice system.
- The student project must be completed in one semester (or the equivalent*) during the 2020-2021 academic year. Professors may only submit one student project per course offering or program. Different professors who offer separate courses at the same university may each sponsor student teams. Faculty who teach at two or more schools may sponsor student teams from each school in which they teach.
- The project submitted must be the work of the student team. Faculty and students will be asked to document any assistance received by the students and sign an honor code statement. All hands-on work must be done directly by the student team.
- Projects may build upon prior work, but students must document their specific contributions, and will only be evaluated for the specific work they completed during the competition period.
- Faculty Interest Form. Professors who are interested in sending a student team to the Iron Tech Invitational must complete a faculty interest form by October 21, 2021. (This form may not be submitted by students). The Faculty Interest Form is intended as a high-level expression of interest; you do not yet need to select which students you will send, and client organizations and specific projects need not be identified. The 2022 faculty interest form can be found here.
- Follow-Up. Professors who have submitted a Faculty Interest Form will be contacted by the organizers to discuss the competition, shared pedagogical goals, and eligibility.
- Faculty Application. Professors must submit an Application to secure a slot for one student project from their course or academic offering. Applicable deadlines are in the table below. At this stage, faculty must identify their client organizations and specific student projects. If the professor is supervising multiple student projects, they need not have selected which student project they will send to the Invitational. We expect that many professors will run their own mini-Iron Tech Competition to select which student team they sponsor for the Invitational.
- Selection of Qualifying Faculty. The Invitational’s organizers will confirm that qualifying faculty have met the above-described criteria and have been accepted to sponsor a student team for the Invitational.
- Submission of Final Student Projects & Documentation. Qualifying faculty will notify the Invitational’s organizers of the student project they have chosen to represent them, and submit a link to the final project and supporting documentation. Teams must cease all work at the end of the allotted period for the competition. Students and faculty will be asked to sign an honor statement indicating they will not work to improve or change their tool after the academic period ends.
Supporting documentation will include:
- Project name and short-form description
- Royalty-free image to illustrate the project in Invitational materials
- Identification of software used for the project
- Honor code statement
- Description of any templates, models or other sources relied on in developing the project
- Deployment plan for how the project is intended to be used, and how the project is suitable for scaling or replication for other organizations
- Description of how the project serves the client needs and differs from existing tools serving similar needs
- If the project expands upon prior work, description of work completed by the student team during the competition period.