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 on a “team”?
There is no minimum number – teams may consist of 1 student or a larger number.
Does the school have to be within the United States?
Any accredited academic institution of higher education can participate, including schools in other countries. 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 faculty members teach 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.
Will Georgetown provide support for travel or accommodations?
The organizers are currently seeking funding to provide modest travel stipends to student teams on an as-needed basis. Since the success of these efforts are not guaranteed, we urge each participating school to seek its own funding.
What is a “good” project? 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. You can see examples of prior student projects from Georgetown Law here.
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. You can see examples of prior student projects from Georgetown Law here.
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.