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UC Clermont Students Take Top Prize at Legal Hackathon


Global event focused on increasing access to justice with technology.

Date: 3/28/2018 12:00:00 AM
By: Amanda Chalifoux
Phone: (513) 558-8199

UC ingot   Three UC Clermont College paralegal students won top honors Feb. 23-25 in the Dayton Legal Hackathon, a first-time global event aimed at improving the legal system and increasing access to justice.

Dayton joined more than 40 cities in the Hackathon, which engaged regional law schools, law firms and in-house departments, legal technology companies, governments and service providers to the legal industry. In particular, the event focused on technological solutions for making justice more accessible for people with limited access.

UC Clermont students Jennifer McCullough and Cara Robertson served on the winning Hackathon team, which presented an AI Bot/phone app called Wonderbot for attorneys performing pro-bono work in unfamiliar areas to help people with limited access to justice — for instance, individuals dealing with eviction. The app also will provide assistance to people with limited access to locate community resources that can help them in their time of need.  

“I was really excited to participate and feel it was a great opportunity,” McCullough said. “It was a long weekend and many hours went into the project, but I was very pleased with the final outcome.”

Andrew McKee, a paralegal student who plans to graduate from UC Clermont in 2020, was part of the second-place team that received the Access to Justice Award. Their app seeks to ease access to justice for military veterans, particularly those who are homeless or live in rural areas where legal resources may not be as readily available. McKee, who hopes to become a paralegal assistant then continue to law school, conducted research for the team.

“It’s rewarding to work on something that can actually make resources available to these vets and to help the community,” McKee said.

Page Beetem, UC Clermont diversity officer and associate professor of paralegal studies, served as a Hackathon judge on a four-person panel with industry leaders from across Ohio. “I am committed to finding ways to increase access to justice, including leveraging technology to do so,” Beetem said. “I try to instill that commitment in my students by challenging them with assignments that explore the possibilities. The Global Legal Hackathon opened an amazing opportunity for my students to network and learn while truly doing good. I am so proud of these students who took advantage of the opportunity. They are the future of our legal system.”

To learn more about UC Clermont’s paralegal program, visit http://www.ucclermont.edu/paralegal.html.