What it’s all about
Despite the huge changes in their profession over the centuries, physicians have created a unique reference point for themselves: the Hippocratic Oath. Our legal profession is facing unprecedented transformation and we therefore asked ourselves: what should a Hippocratic Oath for twenty-first century lawyers look like? How should it take account of digitalization? Should it include non-lawyers?
This is the challenge that we, the Liquid Legal Institute, posed to students around the world in a 2021 competition called the Oath of Justitia.
Based in Munich but with a global outlook, we are a non-profit think tank fostering collaboration and innovation in the legal domain. We work with over 350 members in fifteen countries to pursue projects spanning digitalization, standardization, methodologies, education and material law – all geared towards the realization of a Common Legal Platform.
When working on one such project, a member pointed out that unlike doctors, who have a Hippocratic Oath, lawyers do not have an equivalent North Star. This remark inspired us to challenge students to formulate the first version of a contemporary Oath of Justitia which future-facing lawyers can use to signal their commitment both to clients and wider society. To offer extra motivation, we ensured that three prizes in total were up for grabs. As well as having a First Prize and Runner Up Prize for the Oath itself, we created an additional Prize for the Best Deployment Plan. With this bonus accolade, we encouraged students to explain how their Oath could become widely adopted by the legal industry.
We turned the Oath of Justitia into a truly global initiative, marketing the competition to universities across the globe, and received registrations representing 22 universities across five continents. We were especially pleased to see students from different universities joining forces to compete as one team. Renowned thought leader Mark A. Cohen (CEO of Legal Mosaic and Executive Chairman of the Digital Legal Exchange) endorsed our initiative, pointing out that it is “raising an awareness of social consciousness, which is absolutely critically important to the future of the profession”.
In selecting jury members to evaluate the students’ submissions, we attracted experts from different professions and jurisdictions. Our jury members were drawn from Colombia, Sweden, Germany, Spain, Australia, the UAE and the UK. They include entrepreneurs, in-house lawyers and academics.
We are now delighted to announce the winners of the Liquid Legal Institute’s 2021 Oath of Justitia competition.
First Prize winners:
The Sentinel of Good Feelings Team, consisting of:
Elijah Granet (University of Bayreuth)
Alexandra Molitorisová (University of Bayreuth)
Lissy Verrall (Inns of Court College of Advocacy)
Runner-Up Prize winners:
The Gavel Smashers Team, consisting of:
Winona Horton (University of Melbourne)
Angela Stevens (University of Melbourne)
Matt Harper (University of Melbourne)
Best Deployment Plan Prize winners:
The Sentinel of Good Feelings Team, consisting of the team members listed above.
The Liquid Legal Institute would like to congratulate the winning teams! The students’ work will be published on our website, and they will also have the opportunity to present their ideas at CodeX, Stanford Law School’s Center for Legal Informatics.
We are delighted that our winning teams have found this competition an enriching experience. The Sentinel of Good Feelings team was “drawn to the competition by the incredible chance to design an oath for the legal profession which could impact how law is practiced all over the world!” Additionally, the Gavel Smashers team “greatly enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a good lawyer in a time of rapid technological change”.
The journey goes on
The award ceremony held on June 12th, 2021, concluded the first phase of an exciting journey, but all participants have expressed their interest in carrying out the next phase. To ensure that the Oath is accepted by the whole legal profession, a next step could be to present the winning Oath to a select group of practitioners, representing inhouse legal departments, professors, LegalTech engineers, lawyers in the public sector, judges and other stakeholders.
In their Deployment Plan, the winning team suggested to open source the Oath, allowing the legal community to add, to shorten or to amend it over future decades. Because legal transformation will continue, the Oath needs to remain adaptable to future changes.
The world is in flux, and so is the Oath. But like its archetype the Hippocratic Oath, our Oath of Justitia provides a solid foundation for our profession!
If you are interested in the next phases of this project, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org