JD student breaks down barriers for post-prisoners in global legal tech competition

Melbourne JD student Monique Andreatta’s experience in the Law Without Walls X Social Entrepreneurship competition has further developed her understanding of how technology influences legal practice.

Semester one was a busy one for Melbourne JD student Monique Andreatta. Alongside her studies, Monique took part in Law Without Walls X (LWOW X) – a global, virtual competition to find practical solutions for social justice issues.

Over four months, Monique worked online with peers in Michigan and London to develop a technological solution and prototype to help prisoners in Louisiana, USA find employment after their release.

The team met regularly online, navigating conflicting time zones and commitments to develop their solution: ‘BounceBack’, a digital platform which allowed post-prisoners to create a profile and find work to suit their needs and interests.

Monique and her team researched current technology for assisting post-prisoners and, with guidance from mentors, developed their prototype, a consumer commercial and a presentation for the final pitch.

Monique admits the process was challenging but ultimately very rewarding.

“It was very intense,” Monique said.

“But every week, there were business professionals and legal experts who would tune in and give us tips on how to pitch, or share their insights on tech  in the legal industry.”

Through their research, Monique’s team discovered that many employers refused to hire post-prisoners.

“In America, post-prisoners are required to tick a ‘convicted’ box on job applications. Once the box is ticked, statistics show that applicants are half as likely to get a call back,” Monique said.

‘BounceBack’ used tree logic to filter user preferences, accommodating different levels of literacy while tailoring employment opportunities to suit the needs of post-prisoners.

“Our platform was minimising the risk of being rejected by only showing opportunities with businesses that would accept post-prisoners,” she said.

LWOW X team prizes are categorised into creativity, viability and substance, with the overall winners being invited to present their pitch in Miami. For their efforts, Monique and her team received the prize for substance, while fellow MLS student Anisha and her team won the creativity prize.

Monique says that the competition has helped her discover new spheres where law and technology intersect, and encouraged her to explore different careers in legal practice.

“This has helped open the possibility of going into the consulting domain,” Monique said.

“With new legal issues coming up in the tech domain like privacy, there are all these ways law students are going to need to adapt.

“Additionally, communication between lawyers and clients and even within firms is sure to change to make these processes more efficient.”

Monique says that, while intense, the LWOW X competition is worthwhile for students interested in law and the impact of technology on the legal domain.

“LWOW X allows great skill development, from communicating with a team across countries and time zones to managing your time and working virtually,” Monique said.

“And, by talking to people as a part of LWOW X, you become more aware of just how much movement is happening in the legal tech space.”

“It’s just mind-opening to think how this movement is already changing and will continue to influence traditional legal practice.”

By Cassandra Tonkin

The LWOW X competition runs from January to April each year. Find out more.

Technology, Innovation and the Law at MLS