Pioneering course qualifies students in programming for legal practice and entrepreneurship

A pioneer in the country, the course, which was created in 2013, aims to encourage students to use their programming skills in the legal world.
Law
02 January 2019
Pioneering course qualifies students in programming for legal practice and entrepreneurship

The complementary activity for undergraduate students from FGV’s Rio de Janeiro Law School (Direito Rio) “Programming for Lawyers”, recently ended its 2018 edition with final project presentations. A pioneer in the country, the course, which was created in 2013, aims to encourage students to use their programming skills in the legal world.

Students are introduced to Python and MySQL throughout the semester and, through exercises, learn to use these skills in practical situations. An example is a mass petition production software, coded by the students. The goal of the activity is to qualify law students in programming, so that they can work in new areas of the law, such as technology regulation, be prepared for the future of law practice, and become entrepreneurs who create new legal services.

The students presented their final projects on November 29. The final project consists in pitching a new startup for the legal market. This year, the activity included nearly 30 students for the first time, which demonstrates the growing interest of law students in technology, and the success of the innovative initiative. The projects were presented to a panel consisting of experts in LawTechs and pioneers from the legal technology market. Another new feature was the event being open to the general public.

“This initiative by Professor Hartmann is amazing and confirms Direito Rio’s pioneering spirit in the startup and innovation segment. It was incredible to see the hall of the 9th floor hall packed for the presentations, and it’s gratifying to know that some of these groups actually want to transform their projects into startups. In fact, some have already approached me to participate in the Mentoring Clinic in Technology and Innovation – CMenT, a free startup and entrepreneur support project by FGVnest, which will begin in early 2019”, said professor Caio Ramalho, Coordinator of FGVnest, which supported the event. The Brazilian Association of Lawtechs and Legaltechs (AB2L) and the Legal Advice to New Technologies Lab (Lajunt) also supported the event.

Among the five pitchs presented, the panel chose the LawTech “Pype” as winner, which proposes the use of blockchain to make money transfers ordered by the Judiciary faster and less costly. The project was developed by students Beatriz Villa, Egmon Henrique, Guilherme Magalhães, João Pedro Hennings, Juliana Delfino and Saulo Rocha. Lajunt offered six months of full legal advice as a prize for the winning LawTech. Student Juliana Delfino said that “beyond legal thinking, we learned to be more entrepreneurial, creative and resilient, all part of a group effort. Thinking outside the box, with an analytical insight into Brazil, with the intention of changing the rules of the game. That sums up our history with the Programming for Lawyers course”.

Every year, the activity strives to include people with diverse backgrounds and from different markets and academic fields to be part of the judging panel. The following people made up the panel this year:  Moises Swirski, Founder and Executive Partner at MSW Capital, Manager of Fundo Brasil Aceleradora de Startups and Co-founder, General Director and Professor at COPPEAD/UFRJ; Betânia Pontelo, Coordinator of incubation at abeLLha, an incubator for impact businesses in Rio de Janeiro; Leonardo Toco, Chief Operating Officer at AB2L, Managing Partner at LDSoft, a leader in technology solutions for the field of Intellectual and Legal Property; and Carla Pacheco Ferreira, PhD in Defense Engineering from Instituto Militar de Engenharia (IME) and winner of the “FGV & IME Startups: Pitch to investors” challenge, held in 2017, with startup Botmark.

The course is taught by Direito Rio professor and leader of the Legal Data Science Center, Ivar A. Hartmann, and by the Center’s Chief Engineer, Fernando Correia Jr. For Correia Jr., “it’s gratifying to see the results of these students’ efforts, who in such a short time managed to make proposals that are consistent and coherent with what society demands. As one of the course’s professors, the greater reward is knowing that we were able to expand these students’ horizons beyond what is traditionally expected of a law student”.

About the “Programming for Lawyers” ATC

It has been taught since 2013, which makes Direito Rio the first law school in the country to offer a programming course. Recently, the initiative has been replicated in both Brazilian and foreign schools, even with the same name. Since 2017, both PUC-Rio and Harvard Law School have been offering courses called “Programming for Lawyers”.